MMAjunkie – In an historic and groundbreaking moment for mixed martial arts history, Ronda Rousey will soon be a member of the Ultimate Fighting Championship.
Rousey, the Strikeforce women’s bantamweight champion, will become the first female fighter in UFC history, crossing a barrier that even a year ago seemed to be highly unlikely, if not nearly impossible.
The news comes from TMZ, though sources with the UFC and Strikeforce could not immediately confirm the report to MMAjunkie.com (www.mmajunkie.com).
Though no official word has come yet from the UFC or Strikeforce, UFC President Dana White tweeted a smiley-face icon not long after the social media world was abuzz with talk of TMZ’s report. That smiley face is a White tradition of sorts dating back to Fedor Emelianenko’s first loss in nearly 10 years – though Thursday’s smiley tweet could be mere coincidence.
Rousey (6-0 MMA, 4-0 SF), according to TMZ, will become the UFC’s first female champion, with her 135-pound Strikeforce title now becoming the UFC’s women’s bantamweight title. An opponent for her first title defense in the UFC will need to be sought, of course, and will make that opponent the second female UFC signee.
The hope from fans and Zuffa officials alike has been that Rousey would fight Cristiane “Cyborg” Santos once Santos returns from a yearlong steroids suspension. But Santos has been hesitant to drop from 145 pounds, where she was Strikeforce’s champion before being stripped of the title after her positive test. But with a spot on a UFC card, likely a pay-per-view and potentially in a headlining slot, available to drop down to fight Rousey, her feelings may change.
Rousey, in just a short window of time, has taken the MMA world by storm. She ran through three amateur opponents with first-round armbars, then turned pro and proceeded to submit her first four foes with the same move, all in the first round.
She got a title shot this past March against Miesha Tate, and though Tate lasted longer than all of Rousey’s previous opponents combined, she still was forced to tap to the same now-legendary and feared armbar.
In her first title defense this past August in San Diego, Rousey submitted Sarah Kaufman – by armbar – in less than a minute.
At the same time she has been dominating inside the cage, Rousey has been a force outside of it, as well. She was nominated for a record four World MMA Awards this year. She has appeared on the cover of ESPN The Magazine for “The Body Issue.” She’s been on with Conan O’Brien, co-hosted with TMZ, had a Showtime “All Access” special, was called “the greatest female fighter of all time” by Rolling Stone and is featured in the current issue of Sports Illustrated.
But perhaps the biggest barrier Rousey needed to cross was breaking White of his long-held stance that women never would fight in the UFC.
White’s stance has been predicated on a belief that there aren’t enough high-level female fighters to build deep enough divisions to warrant having them in the UFC. But it has been Rousey who has, as he has admitted, forced him to take another look.
And recently, White said that new look was enough for him to say that the UFC would soon cross the gender barrier – though he wasn’t certain how soon it would be.
According to TMZ, Rousey will debut for the UFC soon. And at the same time, the site reported the upcoming Jan. 12 Strikeforce show, first reported by MMAjunkie.com, will be the promotion’s last before folding. So Rousey would be looking for a new home no matter what.
Now that new home apparently will come under the banner of the largest MMA promotion in the world.
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