UFC Committed To Showing Its Women's Division Is Not Just A One-Trick Pony
The Ronda Rousey-Liz Carmouche fight at UFC 157 Saturday night was "not just some flight of fancy that they decided to do last minute," as the promotion has "hired and signed on 10 of the best female fighters around the world," according to NBC Sports Network's Michelle Beadle. UFC has the women's division "planned out," and the top fighters are "all in the lineup that Ronda Rousey is going to face as we move forward." Beadle: "The last thing they want as an organization is to have this just have been a novelty. They want this to be progression, and this is where we’re moving” (“The Crossover,” NBC Sports Network, 2/25). UFC President Dana White said that the women’s bantamweight division “would begin to play out like every other weight class,” with the champion “frequently defending her belt and challengers working their way up the ranks on a variety of cards.” White: “It’s no different than anything we’ve ever done since we built this company. We put their fights on free TV and we put fights on pay-per-view. These women are talented. They belong here.” White added that the Rousey-Carmouche fight “received more media attention than any in UFC history, including heavy coverage" from mainstream outlets like ESPN, HBO, Time magazine and the N.Y. Times. UFC traditionally does not release "official tallies and estimates don’t surface for a few weeks.” But White said that Saturday’s event was “trending to sell more pay-per-views than the company averages” (Case Keefer, LAS VEGAS SUN, 2/26).
CROSSING INTO NEW MEDIA TERRITORY: ESPN.com's Josh Gross noted UFC 157 “appeared to push UFC and MMA into a different dimension in terms of the way it's covered by the press and treated in pop culture circles.” Media outlets that previously covered MMA "were suddenly providing tremendous placement in their publications." White said that the Rousey-Carmouche fight “prompted newly interested media outlets to devote resources they would not have before.” White: "It was a really cool moment for me to see how the media handled the fight.” Gross noted Rousey’s charisma “combines well with her eagerness to fight.” She is a "superstar in the making so long as she continues to win” (ESPN.com, 2/25). ESPN’s Michael Wilbon said there might not be any “significance” to Rousey’s win, but there is “attention” being paid to it. Wilbon: “This was a big deal in Southern California, where a lot of different sports matter to a lot of different people.” ESPN’s Tony Kornheiser said he did not know "how long this lasts,” but noted Rousey “has a great chance to do something historic” (“PTI,” ESPN, 2/25).
THE POPULAR KIDS: CSNBAYAREA.com’s Nitesh Dutt wrote UFC has "taken a leap of faith by holding its first-ever women’s bout as the main event” on a PPV. But Rousey and Carmouche “delivered efforts that proved the UFC was right in doing so.” UFC “ushered a new era into MMA,” one of a “historic significance for the sport.” In what was a “whirlwind of a week in mixed martial arts, the culmination of it all shined a bright light on the future for a sport that is considered far from mainstream” (CSNBAYAREA.com, 2/25). SPORTING NEWS’ Lisa Olson wrote Rousey’s popularity, “fortified by her chatty personality and those 12-pack abs, will only crest.” She has “lured in casual lookers and captivated the hard-core fight crowd -- that’s liquid gold for a sport still trying to legitimize its rough edges.” Rousey said, “For the next week, I’m probably going to fall totally off the grid as much as I can. If I see anyone, I’m not going to talk about me at all. No more talking about me for a whole weeks" (SPORTINGNEWS.com, 2/25).
LOW BLOWS: YAHOO SPORTS’ Maggie Hendricks reported a bill to create an athletic commission in South Dakota is “going nowhere fast, largely thanks to the ignorance” of Gov. Dennis Daugaard and Steve Hickey (R-South Dakota). Their “primary objective is to ban sanctioned mixed martial arts in the state.” Hickey in a blog post wrote, "MMA Cage Fighting is the child porn of sports." Hendricks: “The lack of knowledge and the lack of research both Daugaard and Hickey showed about MMA has to be frightening for persons who live in South Dakota” (SPORTS.YAHOO.com, 2/25).