Like many of you, I was surprised yesterday to see the addition of female fighters to the UFC roster. While the news has been met with somewhat mixed reactions, it is a done deal. We will see our first women's UFC bout in the near future, now the question turns to the historic first fight.
Just as UFC needed a star to emerge at their first event way back in 1993, the women's division will need the same to gain traction amongst the casual fans. Fortunately for the UFC, Ronda Rousey has done a lot of the necessary promotional work already. Her fight with Miesha Tate in Strikeforce (R.I.P.) was everything fans could have hoped for, and actually was a worthy companion to the months of pre-fight hype.
Putting Rousey in the first women's UFC fight is obvious. She already has built up a good sized fan base, is an Olympic medalist, and is the current 135 lb women's UFC champion (there is a sentence I never thought I would write a couple of years ago about any female fighter). The only real question that needs an answer is regarding her opponent.
The way I see it, there are only three viable options. You have the obvious choice in Christine "Cyborg" Santos. She is the most feared fighter in women's MMA, and the two have a prior history of verbal sparring online. This fight would sell, but in my opinion, the timing is not right. "Cyborg" is coming off a suspension after a positive test for stanozolol, and the first women's UFC fight will be a historic event. It is a big risk to try and sell the masses on women's MMA, and putting someone directly into a title fight post-suspension may not be the first impression they want to leave on fans.
The next option is the other female fighter signed by the UFC so far, ex-champion Miesha Tate. The war of words between the two was epic the first time around, and Tate has been far more competitive than any of Rousey's previous opponents. This is a viable option, but the two women are not far removed from their last fight, and Tate had a massive struggle before pulling off an epic comeback win against Julie Kedzie. The Rousey/Tate rematch will inevitably happen one day, but that is a better matchup further down the road.
The third and final option is the 2004 Olympic silver medalist in freestyle wrestling Sara McMann. This fight is intriguing on many levels, and I believe is hands down the best option for Rousey's opponent in the first women's UFC fight. McMann's grappling credentials are off the charts, not only with her Olympic background but also a silver medal at the 2011 ADCC North American championships. Like Rousey, McMann carries an undefeated MMA record, making the title fight a slightly easier sell for casual fans than it would be otherwise.
Personally, I can think of no better fight to help legitimize women's MMA than the first American woman to medal in the Olympics in judo fighting the first American woman to medal in freestyle wrestling. These are two women who have already made history in their previous respective sports, and I say let them make UFC history together.
What do you guys think? Leave it in the comments.