Ronda Proves Females Draw

Ronda Rousey Proves Females
Draw Fans

By David A. Avila

While Ronda Rousey was trouncing yet another opponent with speed and ease, thousands of female prizefighters in both MMA and boxing watched with interest for another reason: could she sell out the Staples Center?

Decades have passed but female prizefighters in both boxing and MMA have been largely ignored by big time promoters. Until Rousey was signed by Ultimate Fighting Championship’s Dana White, no female fighter had been signed by a recognized promoter since Christy Martin and Mia St. John in the 1990s.

UFC 184 sold out the Staples Center though there were no other male MMA stars to add star power to the event.

“When those two women walked out tonight for the main event almost 18,000 fans were standing on their seats going crazy,” said White, UFC’s president. “No women in the history of combat sports have ever done anything remotely close to this. And um, it’s awesome. And coming from a guy who said I would never do women’s MMA. I keep getting kicked in the face with that one.”

Rousey has proved that fans are interested in female fights and will pay to see them fight including the former California governor’s wife. 

“Maria Shriver was here tonight because she wanted to see this fight going down in the Staples Center and she’s fascinated by this whole thing. And they should be. I say this all the time though a lot of women’s sports are being ridiculed,” said White. “There were more stars than we’ve ever had tonight. The place was packed.”

Boxing failed to show one single female boxing event last year. No promoter was willing to step forward and show a female bout in the U.S. Only Mexico showed female fights regularly and have profited from it. 

Many skeptics say Ronda Rousey is an exception and that boxing has no such star. But how can anyone know unless they’ve seen them on television. More than a few female boxers watched with great interest as Rousey performed.

“Ronda just opened up a lot of doors and not just in MMA,” said Katherine Rodriguez, a former boxer now working for a Riverside-based boxing management group called Arqangel Promotions. “With Ronda selling out the Staples Center it showed it is possible for women’s boxing to do the same if we get the same support and promoting that she got.”

Rodriguez said that female boxers have proven over the years that fans are attracted to watching females perform. But without television few know where to see them. 

“Women boxers are fighting under the radar without television,” said Rodriguez whose client Celina Salazar fights for the world title on March 14 in Tijuana, Mexico against WBC bantamweight titlist Jazmin Rivas. “We’re invisible in the U.S.”

Ronda’s victory could unveil a whole new world for all female combat sports.

“It’s incredible. And it’s so cool to be a part of something like this,” said UFC’s White.