Following the demise of EliteXC, Dana White was quick to restate that he had no interest in creating a women's division for the UFC. Dana has made it well known he does not like women fighting in general and that there was a lack of depth in the talent pool. After yesterday's press conference for UFC 94, Dana's tune seems to have changed slightly:
“Gina Carano is a star. I think she’s talented, I think she’s got all the tools, so what I’m willing to do is bring Gina into the WEC. And we could do fights whenever there’s a challenger for Gina. ["Cyborg!" shouts an audience member.] Obviously. So I think that’s how I’ll test the waters and see how it goes.”
Dana may not like women fighting, but he does like making money and improving his products (UFC and WEC). Dana has finally seen that Carano draws crowds and generally puts on exciting fights. Dana also has seen that EliteXC was paying Carano roughly $25k/fight and her next opponent, Cyborg, was being paid less than $10k/fight. Even if Dana decides to increase their pay, he is getting a great deal for a potential co-main event. So, financially it makes sense to at least give the ladies a shot.
Dana is not a huge fan of "exhibition" fights and thats why the WEC is perfect home for Carano. Dana can keep his purists happy with the UFC product and also take a calculated risk with Carano. Worst case scenario, the Cyborg/Carano fight is a dud and Zuffa is out $50k. On the other hand if the fight is exciting and fans continue to warm up to Carano as expected, he will have a inexpensive and new product to sell.
I suspect Dana will sign Carano to a 4 fight deal and sign contenders to single fight deals. This way he can showcase Carano 3-4 times in 2009 and cherry pick the top contenders from regional shows.