Having been in arenas seeing women's fights for years, the reaction is no longer gender-based. It was a little when first introduced, and came off like a novelty act in the early days
Today, if a woman is a star or the fight is exciting, people are with it every bit as much as the men. If the fight is boring, and the personalities don't click, the crowds are usually not as quick to turn on it, but lose interest just the same.
When it comes to watching on television, if a woman is a star, she will move ratings equal to her male counterparts.
When Carano fought on CBS, every time, her fights added more than 1 million new viewers to the broadcast from start-to-finish. If you understand television, that is an amazing statistic. No other non-main event in history, for any promotion on any station has ever done that. And only a few male main eventers ever have.
But there has also in the history of women's MMA been only one Carano. Judging women in MMA based on what she did could be taking the mentality that bringing in backyard fighters will draw record ratings because Kimbo Slice did, or bringing in pro wrestlers can draw record pay-per-view numbers because Brock Lesnar did.
Carano's lone main event against Cris "Cyborg" Santos is the only example we have of a women's fight being a huge ticket seller.
Strikeforce and Showtime have done four women's main events starting with the 2009 Carano vs. Cyborg fight. The promotion of that fight was a huge success. They drew 13,976 fans. No show in the history of the Strikeforce promotion headlined by anyone but Frank Shamrock sold more tickets. The reaction to the fight in the arena was near the level of the biggest men's fights of all-time. The show did a 2.17 rating and main event did a 2.91, both setting records for MMA on the station and numbers only broken once since.
But nothing like that has happened since, largely because that perfect dynamic hasn't been there.