Yesterday the TUF 18 tryouts kicked off in Las Vegas, marking the first season that women are competing in the long-running UFC reality show. The eighteenth season has been a much-discussed topic in MMA as of late, and for good reason. It’s groundbreaking territory for the UFC, and something that Dana White is very excited about:
"It was absolutely a historic day to have the women here for the first The Ultimate Fighter tryout. This is basically like the first season of The Ultimate Fighter to me."
"There are lots of girls out there that have taken taekwondo, judo, wrestling or mixed martial arts, and now they've got the opportunity to become a professional athlete and potentially make millions of dollars. I knew there was going to be a great turnout, and every season we do, the turnouts will get bigger and bigger."
Quite the turnaround for the UFC President, who once claimed that women would never fight in his promotion. Now women are taking the Octagon by storm, starting with Ronda Rousey’s debut in late February and continuing with Cat Zingano and Miesha Tate’s riveting bout at the TUF 17 Finale last weekend.
"The evolution of this sport as it's continued to grow, we've been adding weight classes, and the sport keeps getting bigger. There are more and more talented guys in all those weight classes. The same thing will happen with the women."
"I think when you got into the 135-pound division, I knew there were enough fights for a year and a half, two years. You think that after it starts to generate some excitement and interest that other women will pop out of the woodwork. … I think over the next couple of years, we're really going to see a big boom."
Indeed, Rousey has spearheaded a movement that has absolutely been one of hottest topics in MMA this year. And it may just be getting started. One of the main questions surrounding the advent of women in the UFC was the uncertainty of having enough fighters to sustain the division for any length of time.
The UFC is taking the necessary steps to curb this, and with more and more female fighters looking to make a mark upon the martial arts world, the sky could truly be the limit for Dana White’s groundbreaking new venture. Ronda Rousey started a new trend for the UFC, but as she has stated, she doesn’t want to continue the movement alone. Now it appears that she definitely won’t have to.