According to a Dec. 20 report from MMA Fighting, UFC bantamweight champ Ronda Rousey says the reality show-style dramatics that were once necessary to push women's MMA to the next level, may no longer be needed.
Rousey, 26, admits she played up her rivalry with Miesha Tate to boost ratings in the lead-up to their 2012 fight in Strikeforce. The rivalry formula also helped hype TUF 18, as fans tuned in to see Rousey and Tate engage in some catty drama-filled antics.
But now that WMMA is solidified and in a good place, Rousey says "the drama" can take a backseat to the skills, talent and athleticism the female fighters consistently display inside the cage.
"I purposely made it into a rivalry because at the time I was up and coming," Rousey said of her relationship with Tate. "At the time I was so excited because the ratings were 20 percent better. It was true, people started watching for the spectacle and they stayed around for the athleticism. It peaked out after that Liz Carmouche was an even bigger success.
"I really don't think I need Miesha anymore. So I'm going to be happy to beat her and never think about her again and be really happy that I never have to be put in a situation where I have to be instigated ever again. It was a necessary evil at the time. Now people know what women's MMA is. I don't think the drama is as much of a necessary evil any more."
Here's the problem with Rousey's argument: History dictates that fans buy pay-per-views that involve fighters who have a real rivalry.
Chuck Liddell vs Tito Ortiz, Jon Jones vs Rashad Evans, Tito Ortiz vs Ken Shamrock and Anderson Silva vs Chael Sonnen rank among the top of the charts when it comes to ratings and PPV buys, so it's clear that a little trash talk goes a long way when it comes to selling fights.
This isn't 2006 anymore, when it was good enough to just be a fighter and let fists do the talking inside the cage and not have to worry about anything else.
Perhaps Chael Sonnen explained it best when he provided his thoughts on why "drama" helps the sport grow.
"If two guys walked outside right now and got into a fight, I'm not going to go out and watch. However, I'm a UFC fan, because I know who's fighting. I know why it's important to them, I know a little about each guy. And the UFC can't do all that on their own," Sonnen said. "We depend on fighters to tell the story. Why should I want you to win? Or, why should I want you to lose? Most importantly, why should I care about this match?"
Drama helped Rousey get to where she is today, so she should embrace it to continue to move forward in the game.