Ronda Rousey is a star. The mainstream media attention that UFC 157 is getting has been astonishing, and it is all because of her. If one did not know any better, one would think she has been a long-standing figure in MMA.
She has set the world of MMA on fire in just two years.
The former Olympian made the move to MMA and has elevated the women’s side of the sport to new heights in an unthinkably short period of time.
March 27, 2011 was the date of her debut against Ediene Gomes. Gomes was 6-1 at the time, and her only loss came to Amanda Nunes. Gomes was one of the best fighters at 145 pounds. It seemed like a stiff task for Rousey’s debut.
The fight lasted 25 seconds.
Much is made about Rousey only having six pro fights. That is foolish. First, it ignores her lengthy judo career. Second, go read the names of her opponents. Only Charmaine Tweet, Rousey’s second pro foe, is not recognized as one of the better fighters in women’s MMA.
Sarah D’Alelio, Julia Budd, Miesha Tate and Sarah Kaufman are the other four victims.
Rousey dispatched of all of them by first-round armbar. Those are fantastic fighters whom Rousey made look ridiculous. Her path to the UFC is lined with the arms she has collected.
Other fighters have had a turbulent road to UFC 157. They lost a fight, suffered an injury or had something to overcome leading up to this pay-per-view. Rousey and Carmouche didn’t even have a division. There was no women’s MMA in the UFC.
Rousey made that happen.
Her blend of beauty, brains and brawn piqued the interest of the public. The turning point was when she got the title shot against Miesha Tate.
The trash talk leading in to that fight had been lacking in women’s MMA. It had never been heard before. Showtime and Strikeforce did an amazing job of marketing that fight, and it was the high point of the March 2012 card. Columbus, Ohio was buzzing about that fight. The MMA world was buzzing about that fight.
Rousey showed that women can be marketable and deliver on fight day.
The road to UFC 157 was built by Ronda Rousey. She put on her hard hat and paved the way for this event to be as big as it will be.
Lyoto Machida vs. Dan Henderson is a nice co-main event, but it would never have seen this amount of attention. The media circus is not because the headliner is a novelty act. It is because of Rousey’s personality, story and viciousness inside the cage.
Other fighters’ roads to the top are by virtue of winning fights, and that is an important factor. Rousey’s road had to be built with the addition of speaking up outside of the cage. She generated interest before her fights and then delivered in spectacular fashion.
She will try to do the same for all of the new fans on Saturday.
When the history books are written on women’s MMA, Rousey will be on the cover. Without her, none of this would have been possible. All current and future women’s mixed martial artists owe her a thank you. She has elevated the sport and given female fighters something to shoot for.
Rousey made this happen all by herself.