Strikeforce Women’s Bantamweight Champion “Rowdy” Ronda Rousey will reportedly make history next year by competing in the UFC’s first female fight. According to a report from TMZ.com on Thursday, Rousey has signed with the promotion and will be recognised as its first women’s champion.
TMZ further reported that the upcoming Strikeforce event on January 12th, which features three title fights, will be the final Strikeforce show before the promotion closes its doors. Along with Rousey, former Strikeforce champion Miesha “Takedown” Tate has also reportedly signed on with the UFC.
Rousey (6-0-0) has enjoyed a meteoric rise to stardom since making her Strikeforce debut in August 2011. The talented and outspoken Olympic bronze medallist has secured armbar finishes in each of her six pro bouts and captured the Strikeforce title by submitting Tate in March. In her most recent bout in August, Rousey successfully defended her belt against another former champ, Sarah Kaufman. Along the way, she caught the eye of UFC President Dana White, who began to show a heightened interest in potentially bringing women into the UFC to compete. It now appears that Rousey’s dominant wins have earned her a spot on the UFC roster.
In years passed, UFC parent company Zuffa, LLC has considered promoting women’s bouts on more than one occasion. A matchup between Erica Montoya and Shelby Walker was rumoured for a UFC event years ago, but failed to materialise prior to Walker’s untimely death in 2006. Future EliteXC star Gina Carano was in talks to join the Zuffa-owned WEC promotion, but that too did not come to fruition.
Zuffa’s first foray into promoting female fighters ultimately came this past year after it purchased rival Strikeforce, which had already established female champions in two weight classes. The featherweight division was all but dropped following champion Cristiane “Cyborg” Santos’s positive test for steroids, but a renewed focus was placed on showcasing the bantamweight division and White took notice when Rousey took the title from Tate earlier this year.
A date for Rousey’s potential debut inside the Octagon has not yet been confirmed. Nor has a possible opponent. As of now, there has been no indication that the UFC will look to bring in female fighters from any other weight class besides the 135-pound bantamweight division, save for a rumoured superfight between Rousey and Santos, but the signing of Rousey and Tate marks a landmark achievement for female fighters who have campaigned to be a part of the UFC for many years.
(Photo Credit: UFC.com)