Rousey dominance impacts growth of sport

by:JOSHUA RAMIREZ/Sports Editor

In the past five years, MMA fighter Ronda Rousey has been rocketed to stardom by her pure dominance of the women’s division of the Ultimate Fighting Championship.

But is her dominance really what women’s professional MMA needs?

In 2012, Rousey signed a professional contract with the UFC, making her the first woman in history to do so. That, in turn, made her the first and only women’s champion in its history.

Since her UFC debut in 2013, Rousey has proven time and time again that she deserves the women’s bantamweight title, racking up a 6-0 record in the UFC and a 12-0 record in her career.

However, I must call into question if her level of domination is really helping the growth of women’s MMA.

Sure, just about anyone can tell you who Ronda Rousey is. But what if you asked someone for the name of any other female MMA fighter, or how many female fights they had seen that didn’t include Rousey? Most people would be hard pressed to give you an answer.

Unfortunately with the women’s most important fights, the championships, reduced to predictable 30-second side-shows by Rousey, I feel that the growth of the sport has been stunted.

While Rousey’s fame and legacy continue to grow with every arm bar she inflicts, the actual women’s division of the UFC has been fairly stagnant in gaining popularity, which is understandable under Rousey’s reign as champion.

For a sport to really grow and reach new levels of popularity, as well as competition, people have to be able to enjoy more than one fighter for longer than a minute at a time.

With the rest of the women’s division being reduced to bottom feeders, it’s hard for someone to really be a passionate fan and get behind a fighter other than Rousey.

Unfortunately, what a sport really needs to be great is great competition. Competition breeds passion, not only in fighters but in fans as well. That is why leagues such as the NBA, NFL, and even men’s UFC, have risen to the heights they have, not only because of the level of competition, but because of the passion the fans have for “their” teams and “their” fighters. That is what creates historic games and fights.

But with championship matches ending in 13 seconds, I doubt that the UFC could even make a female fight a solo main event on a fight card, because nobody wants to pay $100 for pay-per-view for 13 seconds and an arm-bar.

Since Rousey signed her contract in 2012, the UFC has assembled a motley crew of female fighters to pit against her. But I can’t help wonder if these fighters are truly on a professional level with Rousey, or if they were simply the fighters available in the beginning of the new phenomena that is women’s MMA. If so, that calls into question whether Rousey is truly as good as we believe her to be, or just a trailblazer who was one step ahead of everyone else.

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