I watched the interesting debate between Ronda Rousey and Miesha Tate earlier this week with no small amount of amusement. It was an even give and take between two proud fighters, both of whom were incredibly wrong.
The two fighters were arguing about whether Rousey deserved to be the next challenger for Tate's 135 pound championship. They seemed to agree Rousey, a pretty blond judo specialist with a gift for gab, would be the most marketable challenger, but disagreed about whether that should allow her to jump in line in front of worthy challengers like former champion Sarah Kaufman.
"I really feel 100 percent that a fight between her and me needs to happen," Rousey told MMA Fighting's Ariel Helwani. "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."
A furious Twitter war followed, with various proxies on both sides arguing about the distinctions between sport and entertainment.
The whole conversation was built on a lie.
The truth, hidden or obfuscated throughout the discussion, is that there is absolutely zero evidence Rousey is a marketable challenger for Tate. There's no indication that anyone would be. This ludicrous talking point popped up just days after the announcement that Strikeforce Challengers 20, a show with Rousey in a lead role, a show that Rousey went above and beyond to promote, drew the smallest audience ever for Strikeforce on Showtime.
I don't deny that these are skilled and talented fighters. But, like it or not, the audience has rejected the women's 135 pound division. Rousey vs. Tate isn't a marketable, money making fight because women's MMA isn't in a place where it can draw money for a promoter on the national level.
Gina Carano was mixed martial art's first female star. To this point, she's the only star. Her conqueror, Cris "Cyborg" Santos, can't even get a fight, sitting on the shelf for 18 months because there's no economic incentive to meet her asking price. Tate and Kaufman haven't sparked interest among the general public. Neither has Rousey.
Rousey and Tate may indeed fight for the title. In the cage, it is a fight I'd be really excited to see and a fight that will attract a lot of attention in the MMA bubble, the Twitter zone where obsessive fans inflate the importance of marginal attractions and hardcore favorites. But it won't be a fight that makes a difference at the box office for anyone. Rousey and Tate may one day break the glass ceiling and emerge as money drawing stars - but that day isn't here yet.