Ronda Rousey is a force of nature.
She is a scintillating fighter and an athlete of the highest caliber. Her fights—such as they are—have become the UFC's highest-drawing events, mostly because she has connected with a new slice of an audience that has never before existed for mixed martial arts.
I use my mom as an example quite a bit when it comes to describing what Rousey has done. My mom hates fighting. Hates it.
You know how Dana White says that we all have this crap in our DNA and we all love watching it?
Well, Dana has never met my mom. She does not have this in her DNA.
When I've covered fights at her house—during vacations or whatever—she won't watch the TV. She physically turns away and has a look on her face that says, "If I see much more of this, I am going to throw up on somebody and also kick you out of my house and maybe hit you with a broomstick on the way out, just for good measure."
See, my mom is like a lot of people. Most people really just don't like violence, which is why there's a ceiling of how popular mixed martial arts can really get. These people won't tune in and suddenly become addicted to violence and blood. They just won't.
All that nonsense about mixed martial arts being the biggest sport in the world? Being bigger than world or American football?
Stahhhhp it. It'll never happen. There's a finite number of people in the world who can willingly sit and watch the kind of violence that unfolds in mixed martial arts and not only not be squeamish about it but actively cheer for it. And chances are they're already watching.
That's why the audience isn't really growing beyond the heights it experienced back in the days of Brock Lesnar and Georges St-Pierre.
Only, it is. Sort of. Because Rousey, with all her charm, charisma, looks and ability to absolutely smoke an opponent in less time than it takes most of us to get up and make a sandwich, has connected with a totally new group of people.
Young girls out there are dressing up as Rousey for Halloween. She's on women's magazine covers and every talk show in the world.
She has become a role model—sometimes in spite of herself—and that's an incredible thing when you realize that all this is happening because of a woman who mauls other women for money in a cage.
My mom loves Ronda. Loves her. She'll be watching UFC 193 on Saturday night.
They'll all tune in to see her dispatch poor, brave Holly Holm—probably in less than two minutes. But the thing is, they may not even make it to the main event. I know my mom won't.
Because what they'll see in the co-main event might just make them cringe, turn away and perhaps even turn off the television.
Joanna Jedrzejczyk, 28, is the UFC's current ruler of the strawweight division. In so many ways, she and Rousey are alike. They are confident and brash. They are beautiful. Both of them have mastered the art of trash-talking.
It's easy to see why the UFC's brain trust decided that, hey, putting Jedrzejczyk on the same card as Rousey is a brilliant idea because if people will tune in to see Rousey, they'll see Jedrzejczyk and then we'll have a new star on our hands.
It is a sound idea. In theory, anyway. But the reality is that all of those people who tune in to see Ronda do her thing are unaccustomed to the kind of violence Jedrzejczyk brings to the Octagon.
The 5'6" Jedrzejczyk may not strike the most imposing figure, but one look at her handiwork in a fight will have you walking on the other side of the street if you see her coming your way.
Take a look back, if you will, at what she did to Jessica Penne in June:
Poor, poor Jessica Penne, the very good fighter who was so excited for a chance at realizing her dream of championship gold. She just couldn't wait to get in that cage. She didn't realize she was climbing in there with a woman who would not only beat her beyond recognition but exhibit a special kind of glee while doing so.
Rousey is a violent person and brilliant fighter, but it's a different type of thing. She's a good striker, which is mighty impressive when you consider where she once was in that department. However, she's not going to strike fear in your heart in a boxing match. I mean, perhaps she should. We should maybe ask Bethe Correia about that.
But, really, Rousey hurts her opponents by throwing them on their heads. They go flying, find themselves in a tangle and are tapping out before they know it.
They don't know what happened, but they aren't unconscious and bloody or strike a passing resemblance to Joseph Merrick, the late-1800s human curiosity known as the Elephant Man. After Jedrzejczyk finished her handiwork, Penne did.
Jedrzejczyk is a world-class striker—perhaps even the best overall striker on the entire UFC roster—and hits much harder than you'd think she does. She hits harder, hits more and is so very, very accurate, and all three of those things added up to a terrible night for Penne and Carla Esparza, the woman Jedrzejczyk forcefully dethroned to win the belt in the first place.
And it will likely be the same for Valerie Letourneau, who signaled her bravery by agreeing to step in the Octagon with Jedrzejczyk in the first place.
Rousey is a palatable finisher. She can make some people uncomfortable, sure, especially if they stumble across her book or recent views on sex.
But in the Octagon, she's violent without being violent, if that makes sense. What Rousey does, the normal person can handle. There is no blood and no facial reconstruction. She grabs you, and it's over.
Simple as that. Nice and clean.
Not so with Jedrzejczyk. Her violence is more pronounced, rawer. It's hard not to feel for Letourneau, a massive underdog who will do well—or perhaps not well at all—if she's able to last until she hears the final bell and still walk out of the Octagon on her own.
But it's also hard not to feel for those new followers of RouseyMania who will plop in front of a TV to see their new hero, only to witness a horror show unfold before their eyes before Ronda ever hits the cage.
Jedrzejczyk is marketable, yes. But not in the same way as Rousey. The bantamweight darling's massive fanbase around the world will not translate into a massive fanbase for Jedrzejczyk because they are not the same person and do not do the same things.
Perhaps some of those new folks will stick around, become Jedrzejczyk supporters and buy Jedrzejczyk fight kits and terrible stick-figure T-shirts.
The likelier scenario is they'll cover their eyes and pray for the violence to be over so that they can move on to the thing they actually tuned in to see.
That isn't exactly what the UFC wanted when it set up this whole thing in the first place, I'm sure.
But that's what it's going to get because that's what Joanna Champion delivers.