Sunday, 4 March 2012

What's Next for Ronda Rousey?

Ronda Rousey is the new Strikeforce women's bantamweight champion, having broken Miesha Tate's arm in the fifth minute of the first round of their title fight.  Having won her first four professional bouts by armbar within the first minute, there was some debate over whether Rousey would be able to do the same to the accomplished and experienced Tate.

I was very surprised that Ronda Rousey was able to do to Miesha Tate what she was able to do all her other opponents so far.  The only sign that Miesha Tate was the highest caliber opponent she had faced so far was that it took four and a half minutes rather than one and two attempts to lock in a devestating armbar.  Strikeforce now have a star for their 135lb champion and the opportunity to really drive forward the division.

The Immediate Future

Next, Ronda Rousey must face Sarah Kaufman.  Kaufman was the number one contender to fight Miesha Tate and Ronda Rousey stole her place with some Sonnen-esque noise.  Kaufman took a page out of Rousey's book and was vocal about her desire for a title fight next, having beaten Alexis Davis.  A fight against Kaufman, who has paid her dues and been in place as the number one contender in the division for some time would send the message that this is a division with structure and a long term future.

Long Term

Ronda Rousey is a star.  I may not like the way she went about it, but she sold this fight almost single handedly (with just a little help from Bryan Caraway.  She will certainly be a draw no matter who she fights.  Previous Strikeforce champions have suffered from a lack of opponents.  Sctt Coker needs to make sure that Rousey is as busy as possible, fighting regularly around three times a year.  This will keep eyes on the division not only for the title fights, but also garnering interest for fights between contenders vying for the top place in the division.

The Division

It is time for Strikeforce to start taking women's fighting seriously.  It might be wisest to concentrate on this one division, since they have a good few established fighters there.  The organisation needs to secure as many of the top fighters in the weight class as possible and get them fighting regularly, since at the moment women are scattered all over the place finding it tricky to get top level fights.

It is imperative that good fighters like Marloes Coenen are brought back and kept busy at Strikeforce and it will make all the difference if Cybrog Santos can make it down to 135lbs when her suspension is over.  With Sarah McMann also making waves outside of Strikeforce, it is time to get her in and slowly build her up towards title contention.

It might have been a shot in the arm to women's MMA to give Rousey this title shot but it is not a sustainable model for developing the division.  Given all the attention on the 135lb division now, it must not be squandered.  Zuffa have shown that they have the ability to grow divisions by gathering all the best talent exclusively into one organisation for coherent, competitive division where title shots are more often than not earned.  Let's hope they will have some influence in making Strikeforce take this approach.

What do you think should be next for Ronda Rousey and the women's bantamweights?  Hit the comments section below with who and what should be next.


  1. It'll be interesting to see if invicta can provide new challengers that strikeforce can snap up.

    And since dana is hands off with strikeforce, who knows if it'll be folded into ufc after the year is up.

    so the question is: with 6 strikeforce events left on the deal, is it better to have ronda face all her challengers within the year? or would that only decrease the chances of folding the women into the ufc (if ronda beats them all and there are no good challengers or compelling matches left, whats the point of bringing them into the ufc?).

    until marloes breaks ties with GG it looks like she's gone baby gone. Sara McMann had already been offered a strikeforce deal, which she turned down.

    1. I don't think it is particularly likely that the UFC will incorporate the women's division. But there is a strong chance now that they will be the leading lights of Strikeforce. That will be a great place for the division to grow, while more talent develops.

      If the women's division is kept in Strikeforce and does well, which it should if handled properly, then there is no reason why Zuffa won't be kept around.

      As for McMann, she is probably a more legitimate wrestler than Miesha Tate, so that fight (which should happen after McMann has been built up with a few fights) could be marketed as a proper wrestler vs judo match, which would be cool. I'm pretty sure McMann will come over to Strikeforce if they make the right offer and make a proper, sustainable division.