by: JOSHUA RAMIREZ/Sports Editor
After seeing its rock-star champion dethroned, the women’s division of the UFC may be losing relevance just after reaching a peak in popularity.
During the past four years, the women’s division of the UFC has reached a level of popularity never before seen in women’s competitive fighting, thanks in large part to its iconic champion, Ronda Rousey.
Since the start of her MMA career, Rousey has been one of the most polarizing fighters in the history of the sport, finishing every fighter she has come up against in a matter of seconds.
Along with her dominance in the octagon, Rousey’s impact as a pop icon helped bring notoriety to her sport, allowing her to almost single handedly put women’s UFC on the map.
After a winning streak that had everyone believing that Rousey might never lose, her reign as champion came to an end at the hands of challenger Holly Holm at UFC 193 on Nov. 14.
Holms surprised the world with the knockout victory against Rousey. But what was more surprising than the victory itself was the way it came. Holm outclassed Rousey in every aspect of the fight and literally had the former champion tripping over her own feet trying to catch her.
With Rousey’s reign as champion and status as the face of women’s MMA stripped away, whether the sport will remain relevant has yet to be seen.
Needless to say, Rousey was exactly what the young sport of women’s MMA needed to have a successful start in the entertainment realm. Rousey’s fighting dominance, boisterous personality, and knack for speaking her mind drew more headlines and fans than the UFC could have hoped for.
But now, as the Rousey-era of women’s MMA comes to an end, I have to say that the idea of watching a women’s UFC match just doesn’t sound very interesting anymore.
Considering the fact that, other than Holm, who may end up being remembered only as “the girl who knocked out Ronda Rousey,” I can’t say I know any of the other female fighters in the UFC, because they aren’t exciting. They aren’t memorable. They aren’t polarizing, not the way Rousey is.
As if the loss wasn’t bad enough, Rousey was put on a 60-day medical suspension, which could be extended to up to 180 days as a result of the injuries she suffered against Holm. Following her loss in the championship bout, Rousey made the comment that she would be stepping away from the octagon for some time.
With Rousey out of the picture, the future of women’s MMA lies with new champion Holm. Along with making her mark on the sport, Holm is tasked with helping continue growth of what is still a young sport at the end of an unforgettable era.