Tate-Rousey is right fight, not just for looks

A crying shame: Time and opportunities to cash in aren't on Miesha Tate's side. Ross Dettman for ESPN.com

After watching their 49-minute talk show sparring session on Monday, there can be little doubt that Miesha Tate and Ronda Rousey should fight immediately -- and it has nothing to do with their looks.

OK, well, almost nothing.

The unfortunate truth is that appearance is still part of the game for female MMA fighters and in a sport supported almost exclusively by 18-to-34-year-old male viewers, it might always be that way. That said, if you are interested in watching Tate and Rousey fight solely because they are both relatively easy on the eyes, you’re missing the point. You also might not be that much of a fight fan.

The reasons to put Tate and Rousey in a cage together ASAP are actually a lot more straightforward. Don’t do it because they’re pretty, do it because it’s the most intriguing women’s bantamweight fight out there right now. Do it because -- with apologies to Sarah Kaufman, who should get the winner -- Rousey has been devastating in her first seven pro/amateur fights, because she talks the best trash in the female fight game and now we want to see if she can back it up.

Do it also because Tate and Rousey are smart. Do it because with Rousey’s relentless self-promotion and Tate’s insistence on taking the high road, they’ll promote their bout into the kind of big money, appointment viewing that women’s MMA needs so badly right now.

Do it because, whether the champ admits it or not, time is of the essence.

The Zuffa women’s division may get a reprieve if the latest round of rumors prove true and the fight company reaches an agreement with Showtime to extend the life of Strikeforce through at least 2013. That extension would be great for fighters, but it also wouldn’t provide a permanent solution. It would just mean the time for big fights is now, not later. It would just mean it is more important than ever for the women’s division to build momentum, so if and when the end does come for Strikeforce, the female athletes don’t get left out in the cold.

To date, we’ve all heard the usual indictments against women’s fighting: That there isn’t enough competition, that the talent pool just isn’t there yet and that some people in high places don’t like to watch “girls” fight. But the larger truth is, while the women’s division has actually served up some stellar bouts during the last few years, it’s also been pretty bland.

Simply put, everybody is just too nice. Everybody is a little too quick to shake hands and tell the world how much they respect each other. A little sportsmanship is fine, sure, but at this point, what the women's division needs is a bonafide feud on the order of Matt Hughes versus Frank Trigg, Anderson Silva versus Chael Sonnen or even Urijah Faber versus Dominick Cruz.

The women's division needs something to get fans talking and the stage appears perfectly set for a female fighter who is isn’t here to make friends.

If Rousey is that fighter and if the 24-year-old Olympic judo bronze medalist can talk her way into a high-profile bout with Tate, then so be it. She’s managed to position herself as Tate’s nemesis, and that can only be good for business. Yes, she’s green and arguably one dimensional, but her fight with Tate could be the female division's first real grudge match.

Finally, some intrigue. Finally, some bad blood. Now, let’s not let it fizzle out while we all sit around worried about who’s prettiest.