In January 2012, UFC president Dana White told TMZ that women would "never" compete in the promotion. By late 2013 White and the UFC were singing a much different tune, announcing their intention to add a second women's weight division to the promotion. So, why the big change, how had never turned into two women's weight divisions in the UFC? Quite simply, Ronda Rousey happened.
White made no bones about that fact in December 2012, when speaking with Ariel Helwani at UFC on Fox 5. Speaking about adding the UFC women's bantamweight division with Rousey as its champion, White said, "I'm putting my toe in the water, and I'm checking it out. There's no doubt, for people who say, 'Oh, this is the Ronda Rousey show,' f---ing right it is. You're absolutely right. I'm not trying to shy away from that and say, 'Oh no, we're getting into women's MMA.' This is the Ronda Rousey Show."
Rousey has successfully defended her title twice since those comments, and the UFC has stocked the women's 135-pound division with close to 20 fighters.
Now that the UFC has seen what WMMA can do for the promotion, the "Ronda Rousey Show" is not the only attraction the UFC can present. Rousey is happy to have that burden lifted from her shoulders. "I like to have a lot of pressure (on me) when I fight, but I hated the state of fragility that women's MMA was in before," Rousey said at a recent media luncheon, "So, I feel a lot better knowing that that weight is off of me. Not that I don't like pressure, but I don't want to have to worry."
The fact that things moved so quickly for WMMA in the UFC is something that Rousey is very happy about, "I am so overjoyed that it's happened so quickly. The women's MMA experiment is now two divisions. It's no longer experimental. We're winning Fights of the Night, and the fans are excited about it.
I'm really happy that the last The Ultimate Fighter (season 18) had guys and girls because it really showed the ratings difference between when the girls are fighting, and the guys are fighting. The girls actually got more ratings so it really, I think, encouraged them to open up a season that's all girls."
The season Rousey mentioned will be the upcoming season of TUF, the 20th iteration of the show. The entire cast of fighters will be women fighting in the strawweight division. The upcoming season will also mark the first time that TUF will be used to crown a UFC divisional champion, with the victor walking away with not only a UFC contract, but also UFC gold.
The Ultimate Fighter 20 will premiere in September. The coaches for the show have not been revealed.
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