Ronda Rousey won't confirm deal
LAS VEGAS -- Female mixed martial arts star Ronda Rousey says it would be "totally cool" to become the first woman to sign with the UFC, but would not confirm it's already happened.
A report from TMZ late Thursday stated Rousey, the Strikeforce female bantamweight champion, officially had joined UFC. Additionally, TMZ reported Strikeforce, which airs on Showtime, would cease operations after a previously announced event Jan. 12.
Officials from UFC and Showtime have yet to speak publicly on the report. UFC president Dana White posted a smiley face to his Twitter account, which he has done in the past when MMA issues explode on social media.
Rousey, who has three fights remaining on her Strikeforce deal, refused to confirm the news while visiting the Nellis Air Force Base in Las Vegas. Darin Harvey, Rousey's manager, has denied any deal to ESPN.com.
"Seems totally cool," Rousey said. "I would like it to be that way. I haven't signed any bout agreements. I don't know exactly what's going on yet. I know just as much as everybody else knows right now."
Zuffa, parent company of the UFC, purchased the Strikeforce brand in March 2011. An extension to keep the promotion on Showtime was signed in December, with a network option to continue into 2013.
Rousey, 25, has become a major star on Showtime, capturing the 135-pound title with a first-round submission over Miesha Tate in March. A former member of the U.S. Olympic Judo team, she is 6-0 in MMA and has finished all of her opponents via armbar in the first round.
The UFC long has taken a lukewarm stance to the idea of adding a female division, but that's changed drastically in recent months. During an interview with Sports Illustrated last month, White was quoted as saying, "It's absolutely going to happen."
A fight against former Strikeforce featherweight champion Cristiane Santos likely would be the biggest fight in women's MMA history. Santos was stripped of the Strikeforce 145-pound title after testing positive for an anabolic steroid after a fight last December. Rousey has stated Santos, who is serving a yearlong suspension, would have to drop to 135 pounds for the bout.
Information from Josh Gross and Franklin McNeil was used in this report.