In a sport dominated by male fighters and viewers, gaining respect and credibility may be difficult for women's UFC fighter Ronda Rousey.
Sure, she is the former Strikeforce champion and has a 6-0 record, which she will look to improve at UFC 157 against Liz Carmouche this Saturday in the first-ever female brawl for the company. But that doesn't guarantee people will flock to see her fights like most other champions in the sport.
It also doesn't mean that women's MMA in general will be accepted by UFC fans, though Rousey has a great opportunity to cement the women's division as a legit version of MMA to watch.
The only way she and the rest of the ladies in the sport can do that is to put on great fights, leaving everything in the octagon in order to provide undeniable entertainment.
Despite her love for the sport, Rousey clearly won't sell her soul in order to gain more recognition, and one of those avenues would be to pose in Playboy.
In an interview on the HBO show, "Real Sports with Bryant Gumbel," (per USA Today Sports), which is set to air on Feb. 19, Rousey says she would decline an opportunity to appear in Playboy if offered.
The offer will no doubt come for Rousey. Not only is she a rising star in the world of MMA, but she is also quite the beauty of the women's division.
National attention and good looks will almost always lead to a call from Playboy, but Rousey is smart not to answer that call as she looks to become a pioneer in MMA.
Granted, the vast majority of men will disagree with me, and I can't deny I wouldn't look at those photos myself should they become reality.
But for the good of the sport and her respectability, Rousey shouldn't pose for Playboy.
First of all, she doesn't need any more exposure. The UFC has done a great job at promoting her first fight in the Octagon, so taking off her clothes to have more eyes look at her isn't necessary at all.
On top of that, Rousey should be trying to get more viewers as a result of her fighting skills and domination of the division—not the removal of her clothes.
If she were to pose for Playboy, instead of seeing a fighter, men will look at her as a sex symbol and will likely be thinking of her photos during her fights more than the fight itself. That kind of distraction is not what the women's division needs, especially for its potential best fighter in Rousey.
There is no question we will see Rousey in some risque photos as she gains more popularity, but total exposure would help ruin her march to the top of the sport.
The UFC wants her to be a role model to young girls who think mixed martial arts could be for them. A lot of parents might not like such a role model for their kids already based on the violent nature of MMA, and nude photos certainly won't help the cause.
Rousey is best off letting her mouth and skills in the Octagon do the talking—and wisely enough, that is exactly what she plans on doing.