UFC president Dana White is the most powerful man in mixed martial arts. Thus women's MMA fans and fans were dismayed back in early 2012 when a TMZ reporter asked him when women would compete in the UFC and he replied "never" twice.
Just two years later, WMMA is cemented into the UFC. Male and female fights went head to head each week on TUF 18, and the women won the ratings battle handily. The women co-headlined UFC 168 got over 1,000,000 PPV buys. A new women's division, strawweight, has been added, and it will begin with an all-women TUF 20, premiering in September.
It all happened because of Ronda Rousey, as White explained at the end of 2012.
"I'm putting my toe in the water, and I'm checking it out," he said. "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."
Now WMMA is no longer experimental, and at a recent media luncheon, Rousey expressed happiness, not just at the growth of WMMA, but also for not having to carrry it alone.
"I like to have a lot of pressure when I fight," she said. "But I hated the state of fragility that women's MMA was in before, 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."
"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 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."
Now all Rousey has to worry about is Olympic silver medalist in wrestling Sara McMann at UFC 170 on February 22 in Las Vegas, Nevada.
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