And while White has previously stated he believes that new division will most likely be at 115 pounds, according to MMAJunkie.com, the UFC boss now says the continued success of Strikeforce women’s bantamweight champion Ronda Rousey has him second-guessing his stance on women’s MMA.
“I am warming up to women’s MMA,” White said uring a Metro PCS-hosted fan chat.
White has long spoken out against women’s MMA, citing an oft-told story of an event where he witnessed a “girl who fought just like Randy Couture – and looked like Randy Couture” put a beating on another woman who “looked like she had taken a couple of tae bo classes.” His point, one that was hardly controversial until recent years, was that the depth of quality female fighters simply wasn’t enough to build an entire division.
At the center of White’s newfound affinity for female MMA is Rousey, of course, who in recent weeks has appeared on “Conan,” as well as the cover of ESPN the Magazine’s “Body Issue.” In fact, Rousey was invited to a dizzying array of media appearances during the lead-up to her Aug. 18 win over former champion Sarah Kaufman, and while some MMA observers were concerned she may have over-extended herself, “Rowdy” delivered with an impressive 54-second win.
White, who watched the fight from cageside in San Diego, said he was once again impressed with Rousey’s abilities, but he also pointed to the 529,000 viewers who tuned into Showtime for the “Strikeforce: Rousey vs. Kaufman” main card – not to mention the peak audience of 676,000 who watched the main event – as proof that perhaps women’s MMA is carving out a niche and that Rousey is a bona fide superstar.
“I don’t think I’ve been too shy about what I think about Ronda Rousey,” White said. “She just looked impressive, and not only did she look impressive on Saturday night, her numbers killed it on Showtime, too. Ronda Rousey is a star.”
But just as he did on Saturday night, White made it a point to note that not only is Rousey currently carrying the torch for women’s MMA, but fighters like Miesha Tate, who engaged in a thrilling three-round fight with Julie Kedzie on the evening’s preliminary card, are also helping to reshape his opinion of women’s MMA.
“The fight with Miesha Tate was awesome,” White said.
So where does that leave women in their quest to grace the octagon? That remains to be seen. While White was recently quoted as saying he could envision Rousey becoming the first woman to compete in the UFC, he later made sure to clarify that statement was purely “hypothetical.”
But as he has in previous open forums, White stated on Tuesday that the UFC would likely add one more division to its ranks before shutting down the growth of its weightclasses. And while the UFC boss has previously claimed that would likely be at 115 pounds, he gave pause when asked if 115-pounders or women were most likely to get the final nod.
“Either,” White said.
London Fight Store via MMAJunkie.com