This weekend, the UFC 156 event headlined by Jose Aldo’s Featherweight title defense against Frankie Edgar is on the slate to keep UFC devotees happy. Then UFC 157 is coming up on February 23rd, and the historic card features the first-ever UFC ladies’ bout, as UFC Women’s Bantamweight Champion Ronda Rousey defends her belt against Liz Carmouche.
The MMA betting line for the bout sits at -1100 (bet $1100 to win $100) for the favorite Rousey, with the comeback being +700 (bet $100 to win $700) on Carmouche. It is a practically an unbettable fight, unless you like to gamble and bet big underdogs, or you’re willing to risk big money for little return on the favorite.
But there is more at stake here. UFC President Dana White is certain they have a star in Rousey and he is banking the main event slot at UFC 157 on her success. White has made more stars than anyone in MMA so it’s hard to argue with him, but there are a lot of factors and risks in this bout and things could go wrong. The bottom line is that White’s eggs are all in the Rousey basket, and he has even said so in those very words. So the match needs to do well if the women’s divisions are going to grow in the UFC. Or else this could turn into a short lived gimmick.
Rousey has certainly been a media darling this year, getting mainstream attention and really singlehandedly creating the UFC opportunity for women. Much is made out of her being attractive, and she certainly is, but stand her next to a foxy Hawaiian ring girl and the difference is vast. If this is banking on Rousey’s looks, we are all in trouble.
Another characteristic that Rousey has displayed is that mean ‘gameness’ that people like to see in fighters, and she has made short work of all her opponents. This puts pressure on Carmouche to perform, and it is unclear if she has what it takes. Remember the first UFC on FOX event, where the 64 seconds of Junior Dos Santos and Cain Velasquez I was considered a bad luck result? If Rousey has another wipe out in one minute — and with the UFC is charging 55 bucks or something like that to watch — it will likely leave a lot of people dissappointed. With no other signings of women’s athletes, this could be a one and done for the women’s divisions.
Rousey does have a potential rival in Cristiane ‘Cyborg’ Santos, and the rhetoric between the two has been intense already, but it is still unclear if that match will happen for several reasons. ‘Cyborg’ herself is balking at cutting down in weight to the bantamweight limit of 135 pounds. The UFC has shown interest in the fight, but the pursuit of the bout has been lukewarm.
Hopefully Carmouche can make a real tough bout for Rousey in this historic bout, as potentially nothing less than the future of women’s MMA in the UFC is at stake. I hope it happens, I just wouldn’t bet on it.