March 3, 2012; Columbus, OH, USA; New champion Ronda Rousey is escorted out of the arena by trainer Edmond Tarverdyan after defeating Miesha Tate during the Strikeforce Grand Prix final at Nationwide Arena. Greg Bartram-US PRESSWIRE
With her nasty armbar submission victory over Miesha Tate at this weekend's Strikeforce show, new Strikeforce Women's Bantamweight champion Ronda Rousey established herself as the clear dominant force in Women's MMA. And for any fan of WMMA, that's an incredibly good thing. Still in it's infancy, WMMA needs a big name in order to draw in fans - it needs a so called "face of women's MMA." In the past, that role was played by Gina Carano, then Cris Cyborg. Now it's Rousey.
And Rousey is a perfect candidate to fill that spot - she's an exciting and dangerous fighter. She is highly skilled. She is a charismatic interview subject. Also she's attractive. And let's be honest here - as much as we want that to not be a factor in selling WMMA, at the moment, it is. So is Rousey about to launch WMMA to new heights? I think she is, but it's not just because of her.
Gina Carano had all those same attributes along with an intangible star power and she put WMMA on the map. Cyborg ripped Carano's spot away from her and managed to keep things alive despite the loss of the sport's top star. But both women had a severe shortcoming that was out of their control - no opponents. Fans cared about Carano, but her opponents never mattered until Cyborg. For Cybrog, the same was true - once the Carano fight was done, it was hard to get excited about fights with Jan Finney and Hiroko Yamanaka. Every star needs tough opposition to really pull in the fans, and, with the lone exception of the Carano vs. Cybrog fight, that's never been there for WMMA.
More on Rousey vs. Tate:
Ronda Rousey as champion is not just exciting because of her win over Tate. It's exciting for the future of her run. Take a look at these posible upcoming Rousey fights:
- Sarah Kaufman - The former champion is on a 3-0 run since losing the belt and looked good on Saturday. With her heavy hands, she represents a unique and exciting challenge for Rousey.
- Marloes Coenen - Another former champion, Coenen has not competed since losing the belt to Tate last July. She's currently back at 145 pounds and fighting outside of Strikeforce, but could easily be brought back as a viable challenger.
- Miesha Tate - After the war of words and the bad feelings still clearly present post-fight, there's no doubt a rematch would again draw fans in.
- Cris Cyborg - She's out until 2012, but imagine if Rousey runs through the division this year, then moves back up to challenge a returning Cyborg. That's a potential major fight if the cards fall into place.
For the first time in the history of the sport, WMMA has a dynamic champion, and a list of exciting possible opponents lined up. And for the first time, I can honestly say I am excited to see what the next year of WMMA may hold with Ronda Rousey at the helm.