You could make the argument that Ronda Rousey is really pulling the strings at the UFC, not its president, Dana White.
The outspoken Bald Father of the UFC not so long ago proclaimed that female fighters would never see the inside of an octagon.
That apparently has changed, as White, according to an interview with SI.com, is now saying women will definitely fight in the UFC someday. You can bet his newfound BFF, top female fighter Ronda Rousey, had something to do with White’s about-face.
You don’t need a time machine to travel back to when White put the verbal kibosh on female UFC divisions. At the time, he said, women’s fights weren’t exciting enough, and their weight classes lacked depth.
In the past year, all of White’s distaste towards women in the MMA has shifted. Riding in on the tides of change is Ronda Rousey.
Not only are her bouts thrilling to watch (fighting in the UFC’s sister league, Strikeforce, she has four straight armbar victories, all inside of round one), Rousey is the next ultra-marketable star in women’s MMA.
Juggernaut female fighters like Cristiane “Cyborg” Santos and Gina Carano never fully caught on with mainstream sports fans -- Santos because of her looks and steroid allegations, Carano because of her decision to pursue acting instead of fighting.
Carano’s departure was a major blow for the female side of America’s fastest growing sport. Like Rousey, she was gorgeous enough to captivate everyday audiences, and, make no bones about it, she had the skills to reach the top. Unlike Rousey however, Carano’s competitive spirit took a back seat to other aspirations.
Rousey, on the other hand, is here to stay. She’s a lifelong judo practitioner and a bronze medalist in the sport at the 2008 Olympics. Her appearance on the cover of this year’s ESPN The Magazine’s Body Issue brought heaps of publicity to her brand and to female MMA as a whole. Now that Rousey is steadily becoming the face of women’s combat sports and a household name, Dana White is smart to change his tune about women fighting in the UFC.
Hundreds of thousands of spectators will want to see a gorgeous woman in tight shorts snapping another woman’s arm. Dana White knows this. Ronda Rousey is his golden goose.