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Is The UFC Putting Too Much Stock Into Ronda Rousey?

Dana White is a big fan of Ronday Rousey. So big that the UFC president is willing to create an entire division just to bring her to the Ultimate Fighting Championship. Is the UFC going overboard for the Strikeforce champion or is this the new “rock star” that UFC fans have been waiting for?

This is not meant as any kind of a bash Ronda Rousey blog. I really enjoy watching the Strikeforce 135 pound MMA champion compete and have a world of respect for her Olympic accomplishments. That said, this new crush of sorts that Dana White appears to have on her is odd to say the least. The idea that he is willing to create an entire division just to have her or any fighter for that matter is one of the riskiest business proposals I have heard out of White in some time.

Dana’s appreciation for Rousey isn’t a surprise to anyone. He puts her over constantly in the press and in social media and let’s not get into the ridiculous amounts of pictures he posts on Twitter of the two of them hanging out. During a recent press conference White professed his love for her.

She’s a rock star man. She’s been fantastic. She’s been killing it for us. I just hope that we can some really good fights for her. I love Ronda Rousey man. I do. Our people decide when and where she fights but it’s about finding an opponent. We have to get her an opponent. You guys know I’m not doing anything with Strikeforce anymore. You guys know more than I know. I think when you have two really good female athletes that are at the same level, yeah absolutely. Would you disagree that Miesha Tate’s probably the best girl in that division that’s out there that she’s fought?

If that wasn’t enough, White made even bigger headlines recently when he proclaimed that not only would he bring women into the UFC thanks to Rousey, but that he could bring her to the UFC as soon as tomorrow. He explained these comments even further to Kevin Iole.

This isn’t breaking news,” White said. “I’ve been saying for months that this was absolutely going to happen. I don’t know when it’s going to be, because [Rousey] is under contract. We don’t have the timing figured out yet. It could be a year, year-and-a-half, but I’m [in support of it]. It’s going to happen.

White has been outspoken in past years against the idea of bringing women into the UFC, although he has spoken very highly of former women’s MMA star Gina Carano. There were rumors a few years back that they had negotiated this same idea with Carano leading the charge. One of the reasons it was rumored not to have worked is that they couldn’t find a deep enough roster to build under Carano. To be fair I couldn’t find a citation for this online, so I am going by memory here and I could be off. Regardless, it baffles my mind that the same lesson isn’t learned here although to be fair I think there is more upside with Rousey than Carano.

I enjoy women’s MMA and would love to see it in the UFC. The problem is this whole idea of bringing it in with only one star in mind. Rousey is great and she has the charisma of a genuine star, yet it is still a very risky move for the UFC. Rousey’s success is new and while she remains undefeated, she isn’t unbeatable. What happens when she loses? What happens if she doesn’t and is so dominate that she has no future opponents? Is there even a deep enough talent pool at 135 to create stars and make attractive matches with her?

The obvious answer is Cyborg but Christiane Santos has said on numerous occasions that she can’t get down to 135. A fight between the two would be great in the short term but could be damaging in the big picture. What happens if they do fight and Santos destroys Rousey like she has all of her other victims? Hey I get it and we all know the deal on Santos but if she passes all of her tests, and destroys Rousey, then what? The illusion is gone and you are either going to have to build around Cyborg which has its own problems or you are going to have to convince fans that this unbeatable rock star wasn’t demolished by another fighter.

How big of a rock star is Rousey anyway? Gina Carano and Cyborg showed that there is certainly a market for a hot female MMA fight. Rousey did a very good number for her last fight on Showtime. In total her fight drew 908,000 viewers according to the numbers which is tremendous. She wasn’t fighting another star so maybe she can be a big enough star to carry the division?

Will there be a resentment factor? Dana is pushing Rousey really hard lately and I have to wonder at some point if it starts to create some fan backlash. I like Rousey but even I am starting to get a little tired of hearing how big of a star she is when she has only had a handful of fights at the top. I think there is a fine line here and Dana is really walking on that edge with his consistent praise for his champion.

No matter how you cut it, this is risky business for the UFC. Women’s boxing never took off even with big names coming in and out of the sport. There is something about the visual of women throwing punches that many find hard to watch. Can it work for the UFC? Maybe, I would just be a little hesitant on putting all of my eggs in one basket.

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Eric G.

Eric is the owner and editor-in-chief of the Camel Clutch Blog. Eric has worked in the pro wrestling industry since 1995 as a ring announcer in ECW and a commentator/host on television, PPV, and home video. Eric also hosted Pro Wrestling Radio on terrestrial radio from 1998-2009. Check out some of Eric's work on his IMDB bio and Wikipedia. Eric has an M.B.A. from Temple University's Fox School of Business.

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