Showtime committed to Women’s MMA
When UFC parent company ZUFFA bought Strikeforce, quick examination of previous promotion purchases indicated that the UFC was probably going to eat the good parts and leave the rest in the trash. When the UFC bought the WFA, Pride, and even after time the WEC, the best fighter contracts were taken, and the promotion itself ceased.
And the WFA, Pride, and WEC were the lucky ones. Other competitors, like the IFL, Affliction, and EliteXC simply closed the door and turned off the lights.
Many expected the same treatment for Strikeforce, but at least for now, the promotion is going strong. This is due largely to a deal with Showtime Sports. No broadcast partner, no Strikeforce. Now Strikeforce has signed a contract with Showtime, and the promotion lives.
If the future of Strikeforce looked shaky, the Strikeforce women’s division was in an earthquake. And when Cris Cyborg tested positive for PEDS, the future of the world’s premier women’s division looked dire.
However, Showtime Sports’ new executive vice president and general manager Stephen Espinoza says the future of the women’s divison looks bright.
SI.com: After women’s champion Cris Santos allegedly tested positive for steroids in early January, White said that this essentially “killed” that Strikeforce division. What is Showtime’s standpoint on Strikeforce’s 145-pound women’s division?
Espinoza: Strikeforce and Showtime have both been big proponents of women’s MMA and it goes to the point that we discussed earlier. A year ago, Ronda Rousey wasn’t on the radar. Now she’s arguably the hottest topic of conversation in the sport. They’re phenomenal athletes. I have no questions about the depth of the talent pool. I think that’s been proven beyond a shadow of a doubt, so we remain committed to women’s MMA with our full support.
SI.com: Specifically, with the women’s featherweight division, would Showtime like to see Zuffa bring 145-pound matchups to the network?
Espinoza: I don’t think limiting the women’s division to a single weight class is necessarily the best thing for women’s MMA. I’d like there to be enough of a depth of talent to support multiple weight classes. We shouldn’t force all of the women into one division.
SI.com: A lot of women fighters will be grateful to hear this.
Espinoza: One thing I’m not worried about is the talent pool in MMA. I think we’ve only hit the tip of the iceberg. And that goes for both men and women. Every time MMA expands to a new territory, a new country, we discover a huge new talent pool of fighters. I don’t think we’ve even scratched the surface of the talent pool yet.