Breakout women’s MMA fighter Ronda Rousey created quite the stir this week by calling out the Strikeforce 135lbs. champ, Meisha Tate. The 4-0 Judo Olympian believes that, while there may be more established challengers in the wings (Sarah Kaufmann), she and Tate combine to make a much more enticing fight for the fans, largely on account of their good looks. On the contrary, Tate thinks that Rousey hasn’t done enough in the sport yet to warrant a shot at the belt and that marketability shouldn’t determine who fights whom.
The two went back and forth on Twitter and Rousey’s opinion has kicked off a heated debate throughout the MMA world over the place of looks in women’s MMA, with things getting heated enough that MMAFighting’s Ariel Helwani invited the two fighters onto his show, The MMA Hour, to voice their respective arguments.
“What happens when she gets a failed arm bar and someone ends up on top pounding her face in?” said Tate, citing Rousey’s relative inexperience as a determining factor for why she shouldn’t get the shot. “Is she going to tap out or quit? We don’t know. We haven’t seen that yet. I think it’s kind of silly to put her in with me because that’s what I’m going to do. I’m going to take it to her. A lot of people are underestimating me. That’s fine. That always seems to be the case. Make no mistake, if Ronda is my next fight, I’m going to come in with a vengeance you’ve never seen before, because to be quite honest, it’s probably going to piss me off.”
On her part, Rousey agreed with Tate’s ideals on the objectification of women and how female fighters should be respected equally as men, for their talents and not just drooled over, but she called Tate’s beliefs idealistic and not realistic.
“I really feel 100 percent that a fight between her and me needs to happen,” Rousey said. “It’ll be great for women’s MMA. It’ll be the first highly anticipated fight in women’s MMA for a long time … We need to capitalize on the opportunity while we still have it. I don’t want to risk her losing the title and us not being able to fight each other for the title.”
Really, both women have their points and support valid arguments, but Rousey is right in asserting that a championship bout between herself and Tate would be the best thing for women’s MMA right now (all apologies to Sarah Kaufmann, who’s a fantastic competitor). Regardless of their looks, people are talking about Tate vs. Rousey. With Gina Carano MIA and Cris “Cyborg” Santos scheduled to face Hiroko Yamanaka next month in a fight that’s received little press, the grudge match between Tate and Rousey would attract much needed press to women’s MMA at a time when the future of the sport seems to be up in the air.