Ronda Rousey's Future Is in Fighting, Not in Hollywood

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Ronda Rousey's Future Is in Fighting, Not in Hollywood
Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

Ronda Rousey has already tasted the success of being the first-ever women's UFC champion with appearances on shows like HBO's Real Sports as well as being a featured model in the yearly ESPN the Magazine Body Issue.

On Tuesday night, Rousey's biggest non-fight deal was announced when Sylvester Stallone took to Twitter to tell the world that the UFC's bantamweight women's champ would be joining the cast of The Expendables 3.

The news was met with generally two reactions from the MMA community—A) this will be a great boost to her career with the mainstream exposure she will get or B) this is just a sign of things to come and it won't be long before Rousey hangs up her gloves to answer the call from Hollywood.

It's easy to make the comparison to Gina Carano—a former women's MMA star who gave up her career when Hollywood's bright lights drew her in. Carano faded away from fighting after a 2009 loss to Cris "Cyborg" Santos when an offer from famed director Steven Soderbergh came in for a lead role in the film Haywire.

After that, Carano was attached to several other projects, including the most recent Fast and the Furious film. With her latest film role just announced at San Diego Comic Con a few days ago, it's safe to say the one-time Strikeforce and Elite XC fighter is done in the cage for good.

The problem is that when athletes turn into actors, Carano is very much the exception and not the rule.

She's found success—almost like lightning in a bottle—that will rarely be found in Hollywood.

Rousey will likely take a secondary role in the upcoming Expendables 3 film. Production is set to begin in mid-August, running for several months. Rousey has a fight scheduled against Miesha Tate on December 28, and there's little to no chance that filming this movie will somehow disturb her training for the upcoming title bout.

Rousey accepting a role in The Expendables 3 is really no different than UFC welterweight champion Georges St-Pierre filming a small role in the upcoming film Captain America: The Winter Soldier.

In that film, St-Pierre plays a villain named Batroc the Leaper. Despite the project having a much bigger budget and expectations than The Expendables 3, the Canadian was only on set for about a week to complete his part.

The track record of MMA fighters transitioning to film also doesn't favor Rousey giving up her belt any time soon to pursue acting full time.

Let's take a look at the fighters who have either dabbled or are continuing their careers in acting currently.

 

Randy Couture

Former UFC champion and Hall of Famer Randy Couture is probably the most successful fighter-turned-actor this side of Gina Carano.

He's had minor television roles since 2006 and even did a straight-to-video release for a film called The Scorpion King: Rise of a Warrior.

Couture did start to take his acting career more seriously lately with roles in the first two Expendables films. He recently shifted to Viacom, where he will work with the company on a number of reality show projects, including his new Gym Rescue show, which centers around him helping to revamp and fix failing MMA training centers.

Couture's movie career didn't really take off, however, until after he was already done fighting. He did a few roles here and there while he was still competing actively in the UFC, but nothing that ever took him away for a large amount of time.

Couture was also never offered the kind of roles that would have had him questioning his career choices.

 

Quinton 'Rampage' Jackson

Jackson famously cost the UFC a major fight in 2009 when he opted to skip out on a scheduled bout against Rashad Evans in favor of filming the movie version of the popular 1980s television series The A-Team. Jackson ended up at odds with UFC president Dana White over the move, but he still took the chance to exit the UFC briefly to go and film the movie.

Jackson filmed The A-Team, and while the movie was never considered a commercial or critical success, it was his dream to be a part of the project.

Since that time, Jackson has been attached to five different projects according to online movie database IMDB, and none of them have made any kind of major impact in Hollywood.

He has signed a new deal with Viacom (similar to Couture), which involves a new reality show following Jackson around during his everyday life, but it still centers around his ultimate return to MMA as well as his upcoming stint in professional wrestling.

 

Cung Le

Former Strikeforce champion Cung Le has starred in several high-profile martial arts films, including The Man with the Iron Fists. He recently filmed a part in the movie The Grandmaster, which focuses around the man who trained legendary martial arts actor Bruce Lee.

Le has also kept a pretty busy schedule with other acting roles, including several straight-to-video releases over the years.

At 41 years of age, Le's fight career doesn't have that many years left ahead. It's hard to imagine that movie roles will eventually steal him away at a time when he will probably be pondering retirement anyways.

It also has to be noted that Le spent most of his life as a martial artist competing in San Shou tournaments. He didn't get the acting bug until later and didn't land any major roles until just a few years ago.

 

Chuck Liddell

Liddell is another former UFC champion who has taken an interest in acting, but only in small roles spread out over several years and none which took him away from his chosen career of fighting.

He appeared as himself in shows like the HBO hit Entourage, and he will make an appearance in the upcoming comic book film sequel Kick-Ass 2, but outside of that Liddell's acting roles have been few and far between.

Typically he's been cast as a fighter or some variation of that as a very secondary character.

While there are several fighters that have had some level of success as actors in major Hollywood productions, it's not an easy transition to make and even harder to avoid type-casting as an action star for almost any athlete.

There is also the added pressure that acting doesn't just come naturally to everybody.

While it may seem easy to stand in front of a camera after memorizing some lines, there are literally thousands of potential thespians out there who are never good enough to even land a role like the one Rousey just got as part of the new Expendables 3 cast.

UFC president Dana White tends to agree with that assessment when talking about any of his fighters that want to dabble in the Hollywood spotlight. The sparkle is great, but it fades away pretty quickly for almost everyone involved—and the window to be a successful MMA fighter closes with each passing day (via Fuel TV):

You know how I feel about the movie stuff. When Rampage did the movie, it was Rampage's dream to be a part of the A-Team. I don't want to take any opportunities away from Ronda, but at the same time, the thing that you have to keep in perspective is her window of opportunity as a professional athlete is (really small). She could make a zillion movies when she retires. Where she's really going to get the money is here fighting.

Rousey will probably land a few more movie roles similar to the one she got in The Expendables 3, but don't expect the UFC's top-drawing women's fighter to go anywhere that's going to take away from her fight career.

She's been a competitor all her life, and it's hard to imagine, outside of a mind-rattling loss like the one Carano suffered to Cyborg, that she would just call it a career while in her 20s to pursue acting full-time.

In other words, Ronda Rousey is a fighter and she's here to stay no matter how many Sylvester Stallone movies she takes part in.

Damon Martin is a Featured Columnist for Bleacher Report.

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