Next wave of female UFC fighters have high hopes for the future of their division

Maggie Hendricks

When Ronda Rousey was named the first female member of the UFC, a common worry was that the UFC was building a division just around her. But a week and a half after the UFC women's bantamweight belt was contested for the first time, the new division is starting to take shape. Miesha Tate will fight Cat Zingano at "The Ultimate Fighter" finale in what is expected to be the title eliminator for the next shot at Ronda Rousey, and Sara McMann will fight Sheila Gaff on April 27.

The fighters say that the proof of the UFC's commitment to women's MMA is in the pudding.

"Dana seems pretty excited and pretty gung-ho about it. I look at the girls he's picked so far, and they're all legit," Zingano said to Cagewriter. "The women [UFC president Dana White has] chosen are good representatives of what we're trying to do right now. The UFC creating the division is going to mean even more great women will come out of the woodwork."

White has the same hopes.

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"There's women who do other martial arts, and the fact that you can come here now, and actually make a living and make money and become a professional athlete, I think is going to have a huge impact on the sport. If you look at how much the men have evolved, and you see all these women out here who are really talented, I think it's really gonna blow up," White said after UFC 157.

McMann pointed out that even if the division does revolve around Rousey, her opponents have the opportunity to steal the spotlight from the champ.

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"They kind of have to be committed to other people. They have to be committed at least so that she has marketable opponents. Even if it is the Ronda show. Everybody has a chance to make it their own show. The males are given that, too. When a new champion is crowned, they're given that, but they're not given that until they've earned it.

With now 11 female fighters on the UFC roster, there are plenty of women who will want to grab that spotlight.

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