A recent article on MMAJunkie by Ben Fowlkes, he pondered the question “Can women’s MMA continue to grow on the back of Ronda Rousey alone?” Fowlkes mainly focus on Rousey and that the division isn’t doing enough on it’s end to make it popular. I agree with Fowlkes about 93% of the time, but I beg to differ on a few key points in the article.
I agree that Rousey can’t keep the division popular on her fame alone. I can put the Strikeforce champ’s career as being similar to Mike Tyson back in the early 90′s. Dominant. Quick. A ratings draw. There is a saying that “You can only save the girl so many times before it gets boring.” The same can be said about Rousey and her armbar.
This isn’t her fault for being good. It’s that a challenger hasn’t been developed (or come forward) to figure out how to avoid the ground with her. Think Anderson Silva. There has only been one opponent who has been even close to finishing him. Yet we aren’t saying that MMA is riding on his shoulders.
It is easy to have a single focal point in a sport to name them “The Face”, because it is human nature to focus on one big star when it comes to sports; Anderson Silva, Tiger Woods, David Beckham, Michael Jordan, ect.
Where I differ from Fowlkes is that the division is doing their part to make the sport popular. Invicta has already got a global fan base over 500,000 strong and the only reason they aren’t as popular as the Strikeforce champ in the U.S. is that they don’t have a TV deal.
You also can’t blame the division for not trying to promote their fighters. Miesha Tate and Sarah Kaufman were both heavily highlighted during the press run; and it’s up to the promotions to give those opportunities to them to go on main stream talk shows. The fighters and managers are still working on improving their media outreach. They just don’t have the tools that Showtime does.
The statement that “Ronda Rousey is saving the division” is very inaccurate and short-sided to say it best. Don’t get me wrong, Rousey is helping to market the divisions. If Rousey was out of the picture, however, it would still be popular. With Invicta hitting the global stage and matches like Tate versus Kedzie stealing the show; it’s hard to think the sport is all on Rousey’s shoulders. When Gina Carano left, the division survived. If Rousey leaves for some reason; it still will.
To those out there that are stating that Rousey is the only thing keeping the WMMA alive – there are hundreds for female fighters that beg to differ.