UFC and Invicta. What’s the state of Women’s MMA and what does the future hold?
Three weeks ago after watching the Ultimate Fighter Finale, I have to admit I was really disappointed. In all honesty, the talent wasn’t impressive and most of the fights were one-sided contests.
When it was all said and done, I was worried for ladies MMA. Aside from Ronda Rousey, Miesha Tate, and Cat Zingano, who’s competitive? In looking at the UFC roster there seems to be a mixture of new fighters with little experience, and the old guard that need to retire.
However, after watching Invicta 7 my hope has somewhat returned. First off, Tecia Torres was great! This tiny scrapper put on a striking clinic against Felice Herrig, who’s no slouch herself. Torres’ angles and combinations were amazing, and she even landed some textbook axe kicks.
I had never watched an Invicta event, and honestly approached it like a Bellator card (not expecting much from it). I was pleasantly surprised to witness some competitive fights.
This provoked me to watch the previous Invicta 6 event, and although there are some sub-par performers, there is a lot of talent as well. Most notable were Carla Esparza, Michelle Waterson and Cris Cyborg.
So where do I stand with women’s MMA? Although Invicta 7 had talent on the card, the organization botched it up with technical difficulties. The feed was poor quality and at one point I was wondering if I was watching a pirated broadcast. My understanding was all PPV buyers were refunded, so although I don’t have exact figures I can only assume that little or no profit was made on this event. Basically, in my opinion, without a TV deal this organization is dead.
On the UFC side of things we have Tate vs. Rousey 2 on the 28th, and while I’m looking forward to that fight, Rousey should come out victorious. After that fight I assume a fight with Cat Zingano will be made, but there’s a huge question mark after that.
Dana White has indicated a new WMMA division at 115lbs; conveniently enough Tecia Torres and Carla Esparza fight in this division. I think that the UFC will go after these fighters. I also wouldn’t be surprised if Michelle Waterson jumped to 115lbs to compete in this new division.
All three of these fighters are talented and marketable i.e.: good looking. Whether Tara Larosa likes it or not, sex appeal works. Don’t forget the majority of the audience is 18-35 yr. old males. If you don’t believe me count the number of sponsors on Felice Herrig’s banner and outfit. Most UFC fighters don’t have that many. Remember the UFC had no interest in WMMA until Ronda Rousey came along, so it wouldn’t surprise me if they were looking for a “face” for their 115lb division.
Shannon Knapp of Invicta has indicated that she’s open for a relationship with the UFC, but if Invicta folds the UFC can easily swoop in and take who they want. Or if the company is floundering the UFC could purchase for cheap.
In regards to the pool of talent in Women’s MMA, it’s still in its juvenile stages. It reminds me of Men’s MMA years ago when fighters just started to cross train. Like when everyone stayed with their own style, and Tito Ortiz was one of the few people that would bring in kick boxers and BJJ blackbelts. Although this is commonplace now, prominent gyms for the longest time would not bring outsiders in.
One of the reasons Ronda Rousey is so dominant is because she understands what training is, and that it needs to be a full time job. Even though she does have a great amount of skill, she also is physically and mentally prepared for each contest. In her fight with Liz Carmouche it was well known that Carmouche was working a day job while she was training for the fight. Trust me I understand paying the bills, but in my opinion, if you have any distraction, you are not able to give 100% to your training. I remember watching the countdown episode and Rousey was travelling all over the state to train and prepare with different people, where Carmouche’s training didn’t appear to be as intense.
I think now that you are seeing more and more WMMA fighters joining well-known camps, you will see the quality improve in their skill and training. Good examples are American Top Team and Jackson’s MMA. We are now seeing fighters pick up and move across the country to train with these prestigious gyms, just as their male counterparts have been doing or some time now.
Another trend that I think you will see in the future is in regards to weight cutting. The Duke/Morgan if anything, showed two tall 135ers. For the most part WMMA participants have generally fought closer to their natural weight; so don’t be surprised if you start seeing bigger women at lower weight classes. Cris Cyborg claims to walk around at about 160 and cut down to 145. I think due to natural physiology you won’t see the 30lb weight cuts that some men do but I wouldn’t be surprised to see more and more 15-20lb weight cuts.
In closing all I can say is that I’m optimistic, I’m a fan of Women’s MMA and hope that it doesn’t die out as Women’s boxing did. The key ingredient is going to be talent, and I hope we will start seeing world-class grapplers entering the WMMA scene. However for now, I’m really looking forward to the Carla Esparza vs Tecia Torres fight.
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