Superstars are hard to come by.
Athletes like Peyton Manning, LeBron James and Clayton Kershaw only come around once in a lifetime. It's truly a blessing in disguise for a sport to possesses these undying entities.
This rings just as true in mixed martial arts. But in MMA—a sport often defined by a fighter's most recent performance—superstars are scarcer than elephants on a golf course.
So when a polarizing figure like Ronda Rousey comes along, uncertainties begin to rear their ugly heads. Can she prolong greatness? Can she maintain superstar status among the UFC's best?
These are questions that every top fighter in the world must answer from time to time, but no UFC competitor is more spotlighted than the women's bantamweight champion.
Entering Saturday's UFC 170 main event opposite a very formidable Sara McMann, Rousey was starting to be pegged as the UFC's next big ticket. With top salesmen like Georges St-Pierre and Anderson Silva away from the game, Rousey seemed like the logical choice to pick up the pieces and pad her bank account.
Well, "Rowdy" seems like she's on her way to doing exactly that.
After Rousey landed a record-breaking blow for the quickest knockout in divisional history, McMann's liver closed up shop thanks to a perfectly timed and even more perfectly executed left knee by the champ.
The early first-round finish meant more than just another title defense for Rousey. It showcased her budding stand-up skills, which everyone has been hearing about over the past few months. The stories of her folding world-class boxers during training now seem like a well-defined truth.
Now, while Rousey's prior in-cage excellence suggested McMann would have to pull off the impossible to defeat her, nobody would have thought the challenger would get swarmed so early.
Because after the dust settled and Rousey claimed her first finish not by armbar, it was evident what she had done. It was evident that McMann had been left wrecked like an abandoned ghost ship without its crew.
Her efforts were surely admirable, and she seemed to have something for Rousey had the fight lasted longer, but at the end the challenger was unable to deflect the champ's world-class preparation, precision, persistence and sheer athleticism.
So that leaves the question as to whether or not Rousey can be stopped. And the answer to that very generic inquiry is an emphatic no.
Well, maybe—just not yet.
As for now, top contenders like Cat Zingano, Alexis Davis and Amanda Nunes stand in Rousey's way from pulling off a GSP and knocking off every relevant threat in her weight class.
Sure, each fighter offers some sort of test for the champ and their own means of pulling off a miraculous upset, but when it really comes down it, McMann was the one who possessed the defining skill set needed to dethrone a queen. And look what happened to her.
It took Rousey such little time to pick apart an undefeated Olympic standout that it seems as if she'll never meet her match.
However, if Cristiane "Cyborg" Justino happens to find her way to the world's biggest MMA outlet, Rousey will truly have her hands full with an athlete whom many consider the best female fighter in the world.
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