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By: Jamie Penick, MMATorch Editor-in-Chief
UFC President Dana White has long held that women's MMA wouldn't have a place in the UFC due to a lack of depth in the women's ranks. He's been complimentary of several individual fights, including the most recent Strikeforce Women's Bantamweight Title bout between Ronda Rousey and Miesha Tate, but his stance has stayed the same.
However, he's not the only one with a say, and there may be hope for both fans of women's MMA and the fighters themselves to someday fight inside the Octagon. UFC owner Lorenzo Fertitta has made it clear this week that he's a fan of women's MMA, and believes there may just be a part for the UFC to play in its development.
"I've never been against it," Fertitta said in an interview with MMAFighting.com. "You know, me and Dana, although we always go on a common front, we don't always agree on everything. The reality is, I'm a fan. I was captivated by the [Ronda Rousey vs. Miesha Tate] fight. [I was] blown away by their athleticism and the way they promoted the fight, the whole thing. To me, it was very, very entertaining."
"Dana is right. Historically there has been an issue with the depth of talent in the talent pool, but it seems to me like that is starting to change and the one argument I make when we talk about it, and this might sound a little self-serving, but we've never been in the women's game, so we've never had our matchmakers do this. Let Joe Silva and Sean Shelby develop a women's league. I guarantee you they can do it. They're that good."
Shelby's already had a hand in building things up, having signed both Rousey and Alexis Davis to Strikeforce's roster in the last year. Davis had a good effort against Sarah Kaufman despite a decision loss earlier this month, and Rousey of course captured the title from Tate on that card.
Fertitta believes Rousey can be a breakout start for women in the sport, and thinks the increasing exposure, profile, and money available will help bring more and more women into the fray.
"I think she has a tremendous amount of potential," Fertitta said of Rousey. "She's got a great personality. She's got the ability to grab the public's attention, how she talks, and then she goes in there and backs it up. I mean, it's almost like Ali when he would go in there and call out the round. It's that kind of aura about her. I'm really positive on her and Miesha. I was very impressed. I'm happy for them."
"I think that there's enough great athletes out there and when you see the stature, the celebrity, the money that these girls are now starting to make, I think you're going to see more women rise to the occasion and want to become professional athletes and compete. So I'm kind of positive on the whole thing."
Penick's Analysis: It wouldn't be a bad idea at all to give the women's divisions a chance in the UFC. I don't disagree with White about the overall depth of women's MMA, but they also could play a part in building that up if the opportunity is there for the type of exposure the UFC can bring. If the opportunity is there, more and more people will take advantage of it. And if they don't have enough at the outset, they can still feature a few bouts sporadically until it builds up. A fight like Tate-Rousey would have been fine for any televised UFC event, and a shot at getting exposure on FX is better than on Showtime.
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Jamie Penick, editor-in-chief
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