Five years ago this week, MMATorch columnist Jason Amadi argued that women’s MMA wasn’t at a level worthy of being added to UFC yet. Here’s him making his case. The last paragraph is especially poignant in retrospect.
The UFC’s deal with the Fox Broadcasting Company doesn’t instantly change everything. Unfortunately, the announcement in and of itself doesn’t automatically convert 100 million Americans into die hard mixed martial arts fans. However, what it does do is afford the UFC the means and opportunity to exponentially grow their brand by joining elite American sports leagues like the NFL, NHL, and NASCAR in providing Fox networks with regular live sports content.
Fox Sports’ level of commitment to the UFC brand stands in stark contrast to the type of apathy present in the deals Strikeforce and Elite XC were able to secure with CBS. Rather than seemingly airing fights on a whim, Fox is providing a home to a number of UFC programs and hopes to help the brand grow and succeed at the highest level. In turn, the UFC has to provide the best mixed martial arts content possible, and do away with the type of freak show chicanery that were prominently featured in Strikeforce and especially Elite XC broadcasts. Chief among the things the UFC should and probably will wind up avoiding is women’s MMA.
Most people argue in favor of the UFC embracing women’s mixed martial arts out of some sort of twisted sense of propriety, but the truth is that showcasing women’s MMA at this point in time might be detrimental to its long term success.
By this point, we’ve all seen plenty of women on major MMA events, and to be honest, very few of them have been good. Gina Carano vs. Cristiane “Cyborg” Santos, a fight between two of the more skilled female mixed martial artists at this time, was still an incredibly sloppy affair. While the ratings that fight pulled off are a triumph for women’s MMA and a true testament to Gina Carano’s drawing power at the time, the fight itself looked more like a sloppy brawl than a high level athletic contest.
If and (more than likely) when Zuffa does away with Strikeforce and strips it for parts, women’s MMA would make a perfect niche for an up and coming organization like Pro Elite. Pro Elite or even perhaps another organization that hasn’t yet established itself could grow along with women’s MMA and the two would complement each other perfectly.
Female fights are already a tough sell, and the UFC is just now gaining the type of mainstream acceptance necessary to possibly usher in women’s MMA a few years down the line. Perhaps when more world class judoka like Ronda Rousey or world class wrestlers like Sara McMann evolve as fighters and set a standard for more high level competition, women’s MMA should be featured on UFC broadcasts. But at this point, the UFC is of a higher standard.
Feel free to follow me on Twitter @JasonAmadi. If you’re a woman, don’t hate me.