DanaWhite, Strikeforce, and the Women’s Division

Posted: May 24, 2011 in MMA

Carano-Santos

Dana White was recently interviewed by Mike Ozanian on the Forbes Sports Money show, and in light of my comments in my post, WNBA Is a Ridiculous, Embarrassing Joke, I thought I’d respond to his comments.

In contrast to widespread belief, White claims that he’s not against a women’s division in the Ultimate Fighting Championship (“UFC”). Instead, he’s (reasonably) worried that the current talent pool is too thin to support an entire division. That is, you have a few competent women, and a slough of incompetent ones, which will result in a few good fights, but mostly one-sided ones, which White hates to see. He also points out that mixed martial arts (“MMA”) is the “new martial art,” so the majority of the next generation of martial arts practitioners won’t be karate experts, judo experts, or kickboxers, but rather “mixed martial artists.” It’s its own style, and it’s soon to be the dominant martial art. Assuming you agree with his prediction, this speaks favorably for the talent pool among everyone including women. This in turn leads to an inevitable growth of professional women’s mixed martial arts divisions.

UFC-Strikeforce-Merger

Is White back-peddling? I don’t think so. His comments about “never seeing a UFC women’s division” may actually be true for the foreseeable future. Although he’s been critical of women’s divisions generally for years, that direct comment (said with a smile and a laugh in an informal street interview) came about two months before the UFC’s March 12, 2011, Strikeforce purchase, which means there wouldn’t be a need for a UFC women’s division. He was about to become an owner, so he knew he’d have a hold of the best women’s division in MMA. Although it’s not a UFC division, it’s under the Zuffa, LLC corporate umbrella, so White’s comments, past and present, can easily be reconciled. Also, White is also in the middle of a battle to get MMA regulated in the last remaining holdout states. Right or wrong, he might be concerned that adding women to the mix would hurt his political credibility with those legislatures. It wouldn’t surprise me if that were true. (Note: The New York Senate has approved a bill regulating MMA in New York, which now goes to the NY Assembly to approve.)

This doesn’t mean there won’t ever be a UFC women’s division. If you allow White a bit of leeway, his prediction (of an increased talent pool for women) combined with no current need to add a women’s division to the UFC still leads to consistency. If he changes his mind, it won’t be that great a change.

Follow me on Twitter @MMADork
Follow Dana White on Twitter @DanaWhite
Follow Forbes Sports Money on Twitter @SportsMoneyBlog
Follow the Ultimate Fighting Championship on Twitter @UFC
Follow Strikeforce on Twitter @Strikeforce

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