Exposing a rare chink in the UFC’s solidarity armor on par with everyone at Fightlinker deciding that they hate Subo, Lorenzo Fertitta recently went on record saying that he’s down for a women’s league in MMA. Even though the UFC’s part-owner has to know that he’s walking into a Chocolate Rain-level tempest of Internet-posted “Fer-titty” jokes, he is evidently impressed enough with Ronda Rousey that he’s willing to get behind women’s MMA in a serious way:
“I’ve never been against it,” Fertitta said. “You know, me and Dana, although we always go on a common front, we don’t always agree on everything. The reality is, I’m a fan. I was captivated by the [Ronda Rousey vs. Miesha Tate] fight. [I was] blown away by their athleticism and the way they promoted the fight, the whole thing. To me, it was very, very entertaining.
“I think she has a tremendous amount of potential,” he said. “She’s got a great personality. She’s got the ability to grab the public’s attention, how she talks, and then she goes in there and backs it up. I mean, it’s almost like Ali when he would go in there and call out the round. It’s that kind of aura about her. I’m really positive on her and Miesha. I was very impressed. I’m happy for them.”
“Dana is right. Historically there has been an issue with the depth of talent in the talent pool, but it seems to me like that is starting to change and the one argument I make when we talk about it, and this might sound a little self-serving, but we’ve never been in the women’s game, so we’ve never had our matchmakers do this. Let Joe Silva and Sean Shelby develop a women’s league. I guarantee you they can do it. They’re that good.”
“I think that there’s enough great athletes out there and when you see the stature, the celebrity, the money that these girls are now starting to make, I think you’re going to see more women rise to the occasion and want to become professional athletes and compete. So I’m kind of positive on the whole thing.”
Saying that the UFC is an organization that usually takes great care to keep a unified public front is a bit of an understatement. In fact, if Joe Silva or anyone else in the UFC front office except for Fertitta went on record contradicting Dana White like this, well, let’s just say that the tacos at the Palace Station buffet would be extra-meaty for a couple of days. But when the guy with the money stands on the mountain and says that something is a good idea, there’s really no choice but to listen.
The “Field of Dreams” factor notwithstanding, matchmaker Sean Shelby has already shown signs of a strong ability to scout the female talent that’s already present in the ecosystem (is it okay to use the term “female talent” when we’re not referring to someone like Chandella Powell?) He did, after all, sign Ronda Rousey and Alexis Davis, and he’s already shown that he’s willing to give women top billing even though he’s only really been in control for about six months. So with the right combination of fan support, financial backing, and matchmaking, we may yet get to pop boners during MMA cards until we get old and our Viagra prescriptions run out.