Saturday, 16 August 2014 09:35
(Pic from RondaRouseyMMA.com)
By Brandon Engel
On July 5, 2014, UFC champion Ronda Rousey defended her UFC Bantamweight title against Alexis Davis. Sixteen seconds in, and Davis was kneed-in-the-groin, flipped over the hip, head held in a deadlock, bam, bam, bam and the fight was over. Rowdy Ronda Rousey had won yet another championship.
It was the sort of spectacle that many have come to expect from Rousey. Certainly, there have been other notable female competitors in the sport, like Gina Carano or Cris “Cyborg” Justino. But a big part of what distinguishes Rousey is that she’s proving to be an excellent mascot, by combining the charisma and beauty of Carano with the in-cage savagery of Justino. Rousey has even managed to parlay her celebrity status into other ventures, modeling for provocative magazine spreads and acting in action films.
She has her detractors, certainly. News of her recent film work has also invited speculation about her dedication to the sport. Is she a superb athlete, or an opportunist whose ambitions lie elsewhere. What some of her critics may not realize, however, is that for Rousey, there are family precedents for greatness in fighting...
In 1984, Ronda's mom, AnnMaria De Mars, was the first American woman to win the World judo championship. Her mom was a tough and determined woman too. She trained Ronda in judoka, and Ronda won the bronze medal in the Beijing 2008 Olympics in judo. Ronda became the first American woman to win an Olympic medal in that discipline.
Ronda would decide to enter into the professional MMA world in 2011. She made even more of a name for herself on March 3, 2012 when she fought Miesha Tate, the reigning Strikeforce champion in the women's division. Ronda won two times: first she beat Miesha mentally by evoking Muhammad Ali with her now signature 'trash talk (which Rousey insists is to generate publicity for fights). Ronda used this negativity as a strategy to get Miesha angry and break her concentration. It worked; Ms. Rousey defeated Ms. Tate in the ring with her classic armbar technique.
Their fight drew the attention of Mr. Dana White, head of the UFC. Their fight prompted Mr. White to take a second look at his decision not to have female fighters as contenders inside the Octagon. Because of her prowess as a fighter, Mr. White made Ms. Rousey his next superstar in the UFC. Her next fight with Liz Carmouche signaled another first for Ronda — she and Liz were the first women to fight in the UFC. She won that contest to become the UFC Bantamweight Champion. It has been a wonderful ride for her ever since.
Ms. Rousey has progressively improved her fighting skills, admitting to practicing her striking abilities the most. People have critiqued her on those skills as well as her not acting as a lady should. Ronda knows her weaknesses; that is why she works as hard as she does to improve herself. Concerning being a lady, she is not in a “lady like” profession; a “lady” would not make a living out of beating the crap out of someone!
She recently won the ESPY Award in the category of “best female athlete” for 2014. She was a contender in the category of “best fighter.” She is the first UFC fighter to ever win that award. She is also gearing up for her role in the Entourage movie. She even plays a role in the forthcoming Expendables 3, sharing the screen with Stallone and Schwarzenegger. In terms of overall visibility, this will be great for Rousey, as both previous installments of the Expendables have performed well at the box office and both are being screened frequently on TV (more info here.) Whether or not this legitimizes or delegitimizes Rousey in the eyes of MMA purists remains to be seen. Regardless, it is very likely that Rousey will attract new viewership, and potentially even bring respect to the MMA for women.