A week or two ago the AFL announced that they had signed Tara LaRosa to a six figure contract, and not the kind of six figure contract you win on the Ultimate Fighter. A *good* six figure contract … like half a million plus. Now I’m happy for Tara, but it seems to me like the AFL has a couple of screws loose if they think they’re going to be able to justify that pricetag from a business point of view. Tara didn’t just become the highest paid female fighter … she’s up there with a lot of well known UFC fighters.
But I get what the AFL is up to … Tara LaRosa is considered the best female pound for pound fighter in mixed martial arts. So a part of building that fact up is paying her ‘best pound for pound’ money. What I don’t get is why they’re not setting up any proper competition for her. There’s been a lot of talk of a full fledged women’s roster, but the only name being thrown around so far is Kim freaking Couture.
LaRosa has been spending a lot of time in a war of words with Gina Carano, which is a fight that isn’t about to happen so long as Gary Shaw and EliteXC have anything to do with anything. So who is Tara LaRosa going to fight? If Tara and the AFL are going to harp on Gina for not facing the best, then I’d certainly hope they’re going to lead by example and fight the best competition out there. Here’s the consensus 135-pound list as put together by the people at Fightergirls.net. Normally I’m not a big fan of rankings, but in this case there’s way too many people who know way too little about women’s MMA to judge accurately for themselves.
1. Tara La Rosa 14-1-0
2. Shayna Baszler 19-4-0
3. Roxanne Modaferri 12-4-0
4. Takayo Hashi 12-1-0
5. Amanda Buckner 11-5-1
6. Vanessa Porto 8-3-0
7. Hitomi Akano 13-5-0
8. Tonya Evinger 6-3-0
9. Julie Kedzie 8-7-0
10. Sarah Kaufman 7-0-0
The only fighter in the top five that’s signed to EliteXC is Shayna Baszler, so it’s not gonna be brain surgery to line up some good matches. Roxy Modafferi is on a 5 win streak right now and represents the biggest challenge out there to LaRosa. Amanda Buckner has beat Shayna Baszler twice, which would be a nice feather in the cap for the AFL when Baszler inevitably claims an EliteXC belt. And Takayo Hashi has some serious ground skillz.
So the talent is there and it’s available. The AFL is talking big about their intentions to really push women’s MMA, but it will be interesting to see if they actually follow through or line up a series of barbie dolls with middling records for Tara to knock down.