Ronda Rousey: What a Win over Sara McMann Does for Her Legacy

Nathan McCarter@McCarterNFeatured ColumnistFebruary 18, 2014

Feb 23, 2013; Anaheim, CA, USA;    Ronda Rousey attends the post fight press conference at the Honda Center. Rousey defeated Liz Carmouche in their bantamweight title bout. Mandatory Credit: Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports
Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports

Ronda Rousey is a big favorite over Olympic silver medalist Sara McMann for this Saturday's title defense, but what would a win mean for her legacy as an MMA fighter?

Rousey is without question the best bantamweight of all time in the relatively short history of women's MMA, and fight after fight she changes more opinion that it is she and not Cris “Cyborg” Justino who is the best female pound-for-pound.

The champion also has a burgeoning film career, and that potentially lucrative career could be where she goes full-time in the very near future. That makes the UFC 170 bout with McMann and important legacy fight. How the fight goes will help determine her lasting impression.

Gina Carano was the face of women's MMA for a short time, and she never returned after getting pummeled by Cyborg. That effected her legacy. While no one put Carano on an all-time greats list, there is little debate about her impact on the sport. She could have maintained that role, but having her last impression being what it was has seen her fade into the background.

Rousey picked up the ball, ran with it and scored.

What are the scenarios for Saturday and how do they effect her legacy?


A Rousey Loss

Losing is the worst thing for anyone's legacy. A loss to McMann, dominant or otherwise, will not erase the past but it will shift the aura that Rousey has gained in public opinion.

Gone will be the sense of invincibility. She will return to the world of mere mortals, and that will impact her legacy with such a short record. A reminder that this will only be her ninth career pro bout.

A loss will not totally discredit her, but it will most definitely bring all the hype & excitement back to earth.


A Close Rousey Win

Winning will keep it all moving forward. She will continue to change opinion that she is the top pound-for-pound woman on the planet, and a narrow victory over someone the caliber of McMann will continue to do just that.

However, there will still be the naysayers. While those negative folks do not matter to the champion, they will be the ones who challenge her legacy at a later date.

If the fight is close, and Rousey gets the nod, then it merely just maintains her current place in the history books.


Another Dominant Finish

If McMann has another dominant performance, it will be hard to not grant her the role of current pound-for-pound great in the world of women's MMA. She has fought more actively than Justino, and she will have continued to dominate everyone in her path.

If it is a submission finish, then Rousey will zero in on a record that no one thought would ever be broken: Royce Gracie's consecutive submission record.

Gracie sits in the history books with 11 consecutive submissions, but the vast majority was against a level of competition that was not prepared for jiu-jitsu. Also, of those 11 submissions one was via punches, two were by lapel choke and his first was just by gaining mount against Art Jimmerson.

Women's MMA is still growing, and it is still gaining depth every day. However, in this day and age, the competition that Rousey has faced, comparatively, has been more prepared than Gracie's. The women Rousey went up against understood the dangers of submissions. In fact, all eight of her current victims have been quality opponents.

And after the first few, the rest all knew what she planned to do, and no one was able to stop it. She mowed through top competition with speed and brutality.

Submitting McMann would put Rousey only two behind the all-time record with nine submissions, and if it came via armbar it would be that much more impressive.

If she were able to submit McMann at UFC 170 it would have a big impact on the legacy she is set to leave behind. She has already become one of the most important figures in women's MMA history, and if she continues with these performances she will strike out the “women's” portion of the statement.

Rousey is special. She is a superstar.

Every time you get to see her compete, you are watching greatness, and it is a greatness that isn't likely to be seen again for some time. We must all cherish it while it is around, and her legacy is only growing. We will get to see how UFC 170 effects what is already built.