While everybody (myself included) has been celebrating Dana’s tiny acquiescence that he may allow Gina Carano to compete in the WEC, Bloody Elbow’s Michael Rome thinks it’s nothing more than a slap in the face:
Enter Gina Carano, the third biggest free television draw in MMA history, behind Tito Ortiz and Kimbo Slice. She may even be bigger than Tito, because she drew ratings completely on her own as opposed to being in a big title fight or in a big grudge match built over months on a reality show. Not only were her gains unbelievable, they came mostly in the target demographic of males 18-34.
So here’s the question: why in the world do you take the third biggest TV draw in MMA history and put her on a show where the maximum possible rating is probably something like a 1.2? It makes no sense, it’s a complete waste, and it’s reeks of condescension. There is no reason to “test the waters.” The waters have been tested, and women’s MMA passed with flying colors.
I’m still of the opinion that the WEC will give women the room they need to develop. I don’t buy into Dana’s “there’s not enough talent” argument, but I will say there’s not enough star power outside of Gina to drive a woman’s division in the UFC. The WEC, on the other hand, is a perfect place to build up an excellent crop of potential stars.
As for the WEC on Versus being a novelty league, well … you have to start somewhere. Spike used to be a joke station (born of the ashes of The Nashville Network, for fucks sake) and the UFC helped it grow into a serious cable channel – well, as serious as you can be when you air shows like Manswers. While Versus is still weak, it’s ratings are slowly going up. But that shit won’t grow on it’s own, and it needs strong programming to continue rising.
There’s no reason why the WEC can’t carve out a very solid home for itself on Versus now that it’s abandoning it’s “UFC farm league” feel in exchange for different weight classes. Bringing in women just makes sense in that way – it further distinguishes the promotion and adds in another mega-star like Gina Carano. Seems like a match made in heaven to me.