MMA fans have been remarkably blase about the significance of Ronda Rousey emerging as a major star. While Gina Carano blazed the trail as the first major female star in the world of cage-fighting, Carano was seen as something of a one-off, particularly when her nemesis, Cristiane "Cyborg" Santos, failed to sustain much popularity as a solo attraction. Now that Rousey has nearly matched Carano's popularity and has UFC president Dana White talking openly of her headlining a UFC PPV, it's time to acknowledge that this is a big deal for not just MMA and the UFC but women's sports as a whole.
Mike Chiappetta of MMA Fighting makes the case:
In the flurry of interest that surrounds the possible move of Ronda Rousey to the UFC, there has been one thing missed, and that is this: the introduction of female fighters to the world's biggest mixed martial arts promotion would be the biggest leap forward for women's sports in nearly 20 years.
In less than one year of being "famous," Rousey has done guest spots on TMZ and Conan. She's appeared on the cover of ESPN The Magazine. That's as mainstream as mainstream gets. And with all of the UFC's marketing and promotional prowess behind her, Rousey is capable of filling an even bigger spotlight.
Women's MMA has the chance to be different. In fighting, the biggest stars basically subsidize the rest of the card. When fans plunk down their $55 to watch on pay-per-view -- often due to the lure of the main event -- it helps pay the salaries of the unknown fighters walking the aisle in the first prelim. But instead of the women being the ones on the prelims, just asking for a chance, the situation could be completely reversed. Someday sooner than we would have thought, the name on the marquee might read: "UFC: Rousey vs. Cyborg." It would be the rare case in sports where women who recently hoped just to stand alongside their male counterparts rise above them.
Chiappetta makes some strong points, the kind we as MMA obsessives tend to miss as we overlook the forest for the trees.