There's Plenty Left for Women's MMA After Gina Carano vs. Cyborg Santos

Gina_carano_prev_mediumThere's a common argument made about the future of women's MMA that goes like this:  "Sure, Gina and Cyborg is a big fight, but what next?"  The assumption being that you have this one fight but then there's nothing left with any public interest.  This logic is flawed, and to see why one only has to go back and look at how this fight became one people wanted to see.

Back in May 2008, Gina Carano beat Kaitlin Young via TKO.  After that, there was no obvious next fight.  There were a number of options, but nothing in particular.  Shayna Baszler vs. Cyborg Santos was set up to determine a contender.  At the time, neither could be considered anything close to a star.  Then, inside of one round, a star was born.  Cyborg turned in a great performance and crushed Baszler.  After the fight, without any prompting, the crowd started chanting "Gina."  They wanted to see the fight.  It was that easy.

If Cyborg wins there is an obvious way to go.  You have this monster as champion who always has exciting fights, and fans will want to see if anyone can dethrone her.  If Gina wins, as I think will happen, then the options are limitless.  You can give someone like Meisha Tate or Erin Toughill a setup fight to determine a contender.  You can get Baszler back in the mix.  You can get Larosa to come up in weight.  And eventually, someone will beat her, which ends up providing a whole new set of options.  Hell, you could even potentially have a situation where you have one dominant woman at 145 and another at 135, and fans eventually demand a super fight.  

The best MMA promoting happens relatively organically.  Sure promoters can and should try to get to the most marketable fight, but options tend to present themselves naturally, and the key to MMA matchmaking is taking the natural options and running with them when they pop up.  

The idea that there is just one fight or one fighter people want to see is ridiculous as the fans went nuts for Cyborg in San Jose.  It's also not as if Gina came into this sport as a former American Idol contestant or as an ex-pro wrestler.  She had a fighting background, had the first female fight on Showtime, and won a very exciting fight that stole the show.  It didn't take anything masterful.  It's time for this argument to go away.

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