Strikeforce women’s 135 lb. champion Ronda Rousey became one of the most popular and well-known female athletes on the planet over this past year due to her dominance as a martial artist and her girl-next-door good looks. It appears that her career will only continue to grow; this evening she was confirmed as the first female fighter to ever be signed to the UFC.
Rousey currently boasts a perfect professional mixed martial arts record of six wins and no losses. Even more impressive, all of those wins – along with her three amateur victories – came via armbar in the first round. She won the Strikeforce belt in March 2012 from Miesha Tate, and defended it against Sarah Kaufman in August.
Rousey is expected to automatically become the first UFC women’s 135 lb. champion. The Strikeforce promotion for which she used to fight was purchased by Zuffa, the company that owns the UFC, in March 2011. However, many of Strikeforce’s top fighters have already begun competing in the UFC; Strikeforce is thought by many industry experts to be on the verge of folding permanently.
Rematches with Tate and Kaufman would be intriguing to many fans. However, the vast majority of the MMA world wants to see Rousey compete next against the hulking former Strikeforce women’s 145 lb. champion, Cristiane “Cyborg” Santos. Rousey is expected to defend her belt in the UFC – whoever the opponent – sometime in early 2013.
UFC president Dana White expressed his excitement over the signing – which was first announced by TMZ – with a cryptic smiley face emoticon on his Twitter account. Between her popularity in the MMA world and her background as an Olympic medalist in judo, Rousey will likely bring a wave of new fans to the Ultimate Fighting Championship.