Women’s Mixed Martial Arts was on full display this past weekend and with some solidfication taking place at 135 lbs, one has to wonder what will truly be in store for the division and the landscape in 2017.
Courtesy of my files from the Department Of The Obvious, Valentina Shevchenko’s submission victory on Saturday night should put her in line for a title shot vs. Bantamweight Champion Amanda Nunes. And the more I think about this fight, the more I hope the UFC will make it official.
On the Jan 30th Fightful MMA Podcast, I stated that I do not believe it has enough clout to headline a pay per view event, but that was a preliminary thought and one that did not have a foundation of numerical analysis. I simply feel that these two ladies can easily co-headline a pay per view event, but don’t have the cachet (just yet) to get massive numbers as a headliner.
My barometer is as basic as it gets - and literally - has no science behind it other than my previous and perceived correlation between the average joe on the streets and what we see after an event has taken place.
For anyone who has followed my work, I’ve mentioned this measuring stick a variety of times. In essence, in my day to day travels across the greater Toronto area or outside of the country, I tend to gauge who is ‘moving the needle’ whenever I converse with folks who are not considered part of our MMA bubble. I can quickly gauge how ‘hardcore’ of an MMA fanatic someone is fairly quickly.
To date, even after her victory over Ronda Rousey, no one has brought up Amanda Nunes’ name to me, despite her being an incredible force in women’s MMA today. The same can be said about Shevchenko, despite the pleasantly surprising television ratings she has garnered (2.4M vs. Holly Holm and 2.02M vs. Juliana Pena). They simply are not household names yet.
Now, can some incredible storylines be generated to promote these two ladies as well as pull from various communities and demographics? Oh hell yes.
Along with building her brand via various mainstream television outlets, I’m of the belief that Amanda Nunes can be a great and proud example for the LGBT community. There is a champion - championing - their cause and can show that no matter how some in society view them, they can rise above it all and be great.
As for Valentina, like anyone with an international background, I’ve always been a fan of promoting one’s heritage. It works for the Olympics and as a soccer buff, it works very well when the FIFA World Cup goes down. It’s a tad superficial, but people get behind ‘one of their own’, ala Canadians behind Georges St-Pierre, The Irish behind Conor McGregor, etc.
Now, here I am talking about the two women atop a division that was once ruled by the Queen of MMA, Ronda Rousey. Well, according to UFC President Dana White, he believes she is all but done and will likely no longer return to competition.
While risky (i.e. losing again) I believe Ronda will come back for one more run, if not, at the very least, cap off her career on a winning note. Despite Dana stating she has all the money she will ever need, Rousey is a competitor and likely cannot stomach going out the way she did.
Now, with that being said, the overwhelming majority are adamant she changes training camps and if she does so, and it is announced she is now training with <insert big name camp here>, people will be intrigued and will give her a serious shot vs. anyone. There is room for Ronda to come back, to win and to truly raise havoc in this division (again) but only she can make that decision, and I for one, would like to see her do so, with the right changes to her camp.
On a side note, I’ve long stated that the UFC would never pit Ronda vs Cyborg Santos, even when Ronda was on top of the MMA world, as I believe there was no way they would risk damaging one of their ATM machines. I still believe they won’t do it today, but sometimes business is personal and Ronda never really rocked the boat with the Zuffa regime. Unlike BJ Penn … and now Conor McGregor.
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