Rousey vs. Kaufman: Bantamweight Champion Must Dominate to Rise to Superstardom
It's an indisputable fact that Strikeforce women's bantamweight champion Ronda Rousey is MMA's newest star of the moment.
In the five months since defeating Miesha Tate for the championship, she's modeled in ESPN The Magazine's "Body Issue," appeared on Conan O'Brien's TBS talk show and had her own Showtime All Access special.
She's also become well-known in the blogosphere for her controversial comments about reality star Kim Kardashian and swimmer Michael Phelps.
Rousey's brashness and champion status has made her easily the most famous woman in MMA since Gina Carano, who was widely recognized as the "First Lady" of the sport.
And considering the UFC is on a bit of a down stretch in the national spectrum, Rousey may be the most recognizable face in the sport.
Don't get it twisted, though. Her fame level isn't simply because she's aesthetically pleasing.
A bronze medalist in judo from 2008's Beijing Summer Olympics, Rousey is not only undefeated in each of her five professional bouts, but she's been absolutely dominant. The 25-year-old has not allowed an opponent out of the first round, submitting each with relative ease.
But as she prepares for her first title defense against Sarah Kaufman on Saturday, Aug. 18 (10 p.m. EDT on Showtime), Rousey needs to have one thing on her mind: pure dominance.
Though Kaufman is no slouch, entering Saturday's match with a record of 15-1 and a place in history as Strikeforce's first bantamweight champion, the 26-year-old is undoubtedly a massive underdog. The folks over at Bovada.lv have Kaufman at +400 while marking up Rousey to a -700 favorite—and those odds are probably a little kind.
Who will win the fight?
Rousey grapples with the power of someone twice her 135-pound frame, likely making Kaufman overpowered from the start.
With that in mind, if Rousey wants to continue her meteoric rise to fame and not become another flash in the pan of MMA's trash heap, she needs to repeat her past performances and submit Kaufman in the first round.
The stardom levels of MMAers is constantly fleeting. Ask Kimbo Slice or Ms. Carano herself about how quickly it all can go away.
If Rousey struggles or Kaufman pulls the unthinkable upset, the Venice, Calif. native will instantly descend out of the national spotlight and into relative obscurity.
But if she beats down Kaufman like she has her past opponents, Rousey could set up a main event against Cristiane "Cyborg" Santos and continue her rise to superstardom.
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