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By: Jason Amadi, MMATorch Columnist
Ronda Rousey's career in mixed martial arts thus far has been nothing short of spectacular. In just four professional bouts, the "Rowdy" one established herself as one of the sport's premier finishers by submitting all of her opponents just seconds into the first round via armbar. Last night it took her a bit longer to armbar former Strikeforce Women's Bantamweight Champion Miesha Tate, but eventually Tate too was forced to succumb to Rousey's signature hold, and in doing so relinquished her spot atop the 135 pound division.
The Tate-Rousey bout was billed as the biggest women's mixed martial arts fight since the Gina Carano-Cris "Cyborg" fight in 2009, and it certainly lived up to the hype. In fact, I would go as far as to say that Miesha Tate vs. Ronda Rousey was the cleanest and most technically sound women's fight that Strikeforce has ever put on.
However, regardless of the quality of action in the cage last night, no one bout is ever going to put women's MMA on the map. To suggest that a fight is even capable of doing that is to entirely miss the point of why women's fighting has never truly risen to prominence.
Depth has been and possibly always will be the enemy of women's fighting across the globe. The fact that Strikeforce promotes women's mixed martial arts is a testament to the progressive attitude of Scott Coker, but it doesn't undo the fact that the women's bantamweight and featherweight divisions are simply novelties at this point. The infrequency of Strikeforce cards helps to mask that truth, but there just aren't enough talented female fighters to sustain compelling weight classes.
If you look past the next women's Bantamweight Title fight between Ronda Rousey and Sarah Kaufman, there are virtually no challengers at 135 pounds in Strikeforce. Assuming Rousey wins (and that's looking like a fair assumption to make at this point), she's probably going to be be stuck sitting on the shelf waiting for Strikeforce to produce credible challengers. Outside of Olympic Silver Medalist Sara McMann, I'm not sure any other woman even fits the bill.
The fact is, no matter how athletically gifted and charismatic Ronda Rousey may be, she's still poised to occupy the same space that Cristiane "Cyborg" Santos occupies at 145 pounds. Without a steady stream of contenders or even the belief that legitimate contenders exist, Strikeforce's female champions will become little more than novelty acts.
The struggle promoters face isn't getting people to accept women fighting in a cage, it's getting past the point of spectacle and getting fans to appreciate the sporting aspect of women slicing each other up and breaking bones.
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