The UFC has made many significant changes to its organization in the recent past. They opened a flyweight division and now have the organizations first champion of that weight class. They recently have confirmed that a strawweight division is in the works for fighters weighing in around the 115 pound. Both of these changes are significant for the UFC. But there is one change that is bigger than both of those: the addition of women to the UFC.
WMMA (Women’s Mixed Martial Arts) has historically never been as popular as the men’s side of things. A fighter by the name of Gina Carano used to be the face of WMMA. Often known for her beauty, more importantly she was charismatic and she could fight. The trouble is that after a brutal knockout in the first round, she hasn’t set foot in an octagon since.
With Carano out of the sport, WMMA was quickly losing power and interest. That is until Ronda Rousey showed up. Rousey was a Judo bronze medalist in the 2008 Beijing games. After winning the medal, she was unsure of where to go career wise. She tried a few waitressing jobs before finally deciding to fight.
Rousey got into the cage for her first amateur fight and won by hip tossing her opponent to the ground and securing and armbar submission. This has since become her trademark move for finishing fights. Her two subsequent amateur bouts went much the same. Hip toss to armbar, armbar to victory.
After a perfect amateur record of 3-0, Rousey decided to turn professional. She fought two bouts in smaller organizations, which she won by armbar in the first round. Strikeforce, an organization that employed female MMA fighters as well as male fighters, then signed her.
Being in front of a bigger audience seemingly made Rousey even better. She won her first two Strikeforce fights, and was granted a title shot at the then champion, Miesha Tate.
It was Rousey’s toughest fight yet, but she was able to secure an armbar near the end of the first round and capture the belt. By now, Rousey was on the minds of everyone associated with MMA. Her meteoric rise had been incredible, but she wasn’t done yet.
After defending her belt against Sarah Kaufman, Rousey and the UFC broke ground and did something never seen before. She signed a UFC contract and became the company’s first women’s bantamweight champion.
Rousey is everything the UFC could want. She’s well spoken, extremely marketable and very talented. She has become the face of WMMA and has taken it to places that many thought were not possible. On February 23, Rousey will break ground again by being the first woman to headline a UFC pay-per-view.
She will defend her championship belt against tough challenger, Liz Carmouche. From waitressing to becoming a UFC champion, the rise of the star that is Ronda Rousey keeps on flying high. A reporter once asked UFC president Dana White if there would ever be women in the UFC. His response was, “Never.” A few years later and we have a woman champion headlining a fight card. Never say never, Dana.