Attention, UFC fans: The ladies have finally arrived.

With Strikeforce’s imminent demise, the promotion’s women’s bantamweight champion, Ronda Rousey, can be credited in large part with Zuffa’s decision to give the ladies a home inside the Octagon.

UFC President Dana White has been singing the praises of Rousey over the past several months, and the Olympic medalist became the first female to sign with the promotion.

Rousey’s ability to draw fan interest through her in-ring submission expertise, good looks and her frankness in discussing matters of sex and fight preparation is certainly a recipe for creating a star.

And now the weight of the WMMA world is on her shoulders. If she, along with the handful of other women that the UFC is seeking to bring in to challenge her, can continue to deliver in the ring, women’s MMA might have a long-term future inside the UFC’s cage.

It’s hard for anything, even the return of a pound-for-pound legend, to trump such a historic moment.

1. Ronda Rousey

She’s in the UFC, and you can bet that Miesha Tate and Sara McMann are gunning for the face of women’s MMA. Can Rousey’s entry into the UFC develop into a permanent place for women under the promotion’s banner, or will it come to an end with Rousey’s first career loss? That’s the big question that lingers now.

2. Georges St-Pierre

After 19 months on the sideline, GSP returned to the Octagon and picked up where he left off. The long-reigning champion of the UFC’s welterweight division successfully defended his title against interim champ Carlos Condit and earned “Fight of the Night” honors in the process. Talk now turns to a fight fans have long called for: a showdown between GSP and fellow top pound-for-pound fighter Anderson Silva.

3. Johny Hendricks

He might have to wait awhile for his opportunity at the welterweight belt, but Hendricks put an exclamation mark on his claim to No. 1 contender status with a spectacular 46-second knockout finish of Martin Kampmann at UFC 154. The win earned him “Knockout of the Night” honors and also gives him five straight victories. With wins over Jon Fitch and Josh Koscheck also included in that run, Hendricks has shown that he’s for real.

4. Cung Le

He might be in Randy Couture territory when it comes to age, but Cung Le can still score the big knockout. He did so in the UFC’s first venture to China. Although Le might be too old to ever build up an argument for a title bid, he can still deliver an entertaining fight.

5. Gilbert Melendez and Luke Rockhold

How can two guys who are both suffering from injury land in the top five here? The news of Strikeforce’s demise is good news for these guys, and the opportunity to enter the UFC with their current championship status intact is actually a better scenario than competing and risking a defeat in the final Strikeforce event.

6. The Ultimate Fighter casts

Both TUF 16 and TUF Smashes are working their way towards a conclusion in the coming weeks. Neither edition of the show has produced a highly talked-about prospect, but both casts contain fighters that could eventually have an impact in the UFC, potentially at a different weight class from the one they compete in on the show.

7. Rafael dos Anjos

Mark Bocek has been a tough competitor over recent years, only losing to current champion Benson Henderson and perennial contender Jim Miller over the last four years. However, dos Anjos had little trouble handing Bocek his third loss in that span. Dos Anjos now has three consecutive Octagon victories and is inching closer to title contention.

8. Pablo Garza

Much as was the case with dos Anjos, Garza delivered more than was expected against an established high-level opponent. Garza took all three rounds, including a 30-26 on one judge’s scorecard, against Mark Hominick to claim victory at UFC 154. The win ends a two-fight skid for the North Dakotan.

9. Jesse Ronson and Jordan Mein

UFC contracts don’t come easy, but Ronson and Mein made strong arguments to be added to the UFC roster with their performances at Score Fighting Series 7. Mein scored a first-round TKO of UFC vet Forrest Petz in the main event. Meanwhile, Ronson got the better of Ryan Healy and demonstrated a great all-around game in the evening’s co-headliner.

10. Rich Clementi

There’s not many great ways for a mid-tier fighter to go out with a loss, but Clementi’s final run was more than most UFC veterans get. The 35-year-old fighter entered into Bellator’s season-seven lightweight tournament and exposed the holes in the game of one of the tourney favorites, Alexander Sarnavskiy, in October’s opening round match-up. Clementi didn’t fare so well in his semi-final pairing against Marcin Held in November, but there was still that notion that he could once again play spoiler to a highly-touted prospect. Clementi announced his retirement shortly after the loss.

Photo: Ronda Rousey (Esther Lin/All Elbows)

About The Author

The MMA Corner Staff

Your home for all things MMA. News, Interviews, Event Coverage, Editorials. If it is MMA related, you will find it on The MMA Corner.