There’s something inherently amazing about a specialist. Being able to pull off a submission or a striking technique time and time again against fighters who know exactly what’s coming and exactly what must be done to avoid it is a mystifying thing. Quite rightly, the blame on the opponents is often shunned and in its place comes admiration for the victor – no doubt Kaufman knows how to defend an armbar, but she was as helpless against it as the other eight opponents that have faced Rousey in the realm of MMA.
The only problem with having a fighter so dominant is that it can often stagnate a division. Less than a month ago, at UFC on FOX 4, Brandon Vera fought for a potential title shot. This, in the Light Heavyweight division – a division that up until a prodigy took it over was considered one of the deepest in MMA. Depth is unfortunately not a quality many would assign to the Women’s Bantamweight division.
The reason for this dearth of depth is two-fold. Women’s MMA lacks the exposure that the male divisions have so long enjoyed with the UFC and other events. This is changing, with Rousey’s breakthrough into the mainstream as well as upstart promotions such as Invicta helping to fill the hole in WMMA. However, another issue is the lack of viable challengers to Ronda Rousey. Barring Cyborg sawing off a leg to make 135 pounds, there are few challengers for the Judo Olympian. While there are some intriguing matches to be made in the future of the division (the prospect of Olympic Judo Bronze Medallist Ronda Rousey facing off with Olympic Wrestling Silver Medallist Sara McMann is a fight almost too good to not make), the lack of proper opponents will mean underprepared fighters will be thrust too early into a championship bout against Rousey and suffer the same fate as all her other opponents. This will not only cause watchers to quickly become bored, but will also destroy any interest in a future matchup between the two, perhaps one where they match up more evenly.
What I suggest may seem extreme, but would provide maximum depth for a division in sore need of challengers.
Have Rousey take twelve months off from competing in MMA. Let her train with the Scrap Pack, improve on her striking and continue to develop her obviously amazing judo and submission games. In the meantime, have Strikeforce introduce the world to the future of the Women’s Bantamweight division by hosting four concurrent eight-woman tournaments, across three Strikeforce events, featuring the top 32 W-Bantamweight fighters in the world. The initial rounds could be hosted on the prelims, but by the time the finals of each tournament come around, they could be promoted to co-main or even main event status.
Instead of then having the four winners face off against each other to provide just the one winner, each of the individual tournament winners will have a chance to face off against Rousey. That way, you have a year’s worth of proven challengers for Rousey to pit her skills against, plus it includes ways for those who lost out in the tournaments to both gain experience and to be put into fights so they may rebound from the losses and perhaps challenge for the title themselves.
I personally could think of no better way for Ronda Rousey and Women’s MMA to debut in the UFC than a FOX headlining bout against one of the tournament winners. According to Dana White, the only reason stopping Women’s MMA from featuring in the UFC is a lack of depth. This would solve the issue.
The amount of first time female watchers for the event – as well as the press that would come with such an event – would create a huge influx of women wanting to try their hand at profession mixed martial arts, essentially creating a perpetual flow of new female MMArtists to develop and promote.
If Rousey has three more fights in the next year, she could potentially deprive the division of interest for a long time. If she sat out for a year and allowed for the development of new fighters and stars, the division could potentially enter a boom which would encourage growth for years to come.
Posted on August 19, 2012 by Craig