Ronda Rousey has made a huge impact on the sport of MMA within the last few years and has become one of the primary faces of women’s MMA. Not only does she combine the stunning, “model-esque” looks that made Gina Carano so popular, but she contains some of the greatest skills in all of MMA. Known for finishing fights in the first round via armbar, like she did in her latest outing against former champion Sarah Kaufman, she made short work of her opponent using her Olympic level Judo game to get the fight to the ground early and end it with the armbar.
Solid Judo fighters have rarely been seen in MMA, and has not quite been given the respect it deserves as it often gets replaced or blended into other areas of the game such as wrestling and Jiu Jitsu. Rousey comes from a competitive child hood as she was introduced to Judo at an early age and qualified for the Olympics at only 17 years old. Not only has made impact on the sport, but also on women. Women all across the world look up to her as an idol and a symbol of self confidence.
Rousey’s accomplishments, skills, and impact thus far can speak for themselves in determining the importance of her existence now, but what about the importance of her future? Women’s MMA today has been scoffed at in the past by the likes of Dana White. While Dana has changed his mind on his opinion of women’s MMA (Especially after seeing Rousey), he is still adamant about keeping it in Strikeforce, and not the UFC. He claims the roster is not deep enough to be able to invest in it. So now the question becomes; “Is enough women in MMA for Ronda to keep fighting?”
After her minute long date in the cage with Kaufman, Rousey called out the number one 145 lb women fighter and Strikeforce featherweight champion Cris Cyborg. Cyborg is a powerhouse at 145 and uses her aggressive stand up skills, combined with her strength and cardio to overwhelm opponents and finish them in brutal fashion. If any of you thought Kaufman was going to be a risky fight for her (which ironically turned out NOT to be the case) than this fight should pose as an even larger threat. However, Rousey has a hot streak of momentum and doesn’t look to be slowing down at all. It’s a fight that the fans want to see, and a fight that Rousey wants. However, it could be one of the riskiest moves of her career and has the potential to capsize her market and her stock, something that happened to Gina Carano.
Imagine yourself in Ronda’s position (Insert sexual joke), she has two options; either stay at 135, and defend her belt against a skeleton division and rely on Zuffa’s hype team to create enough relevancy in there for her to stay active, or take a risk and jump up to 145 and challenge for the belt. Either way she has to keep winning if she wants to remain on the front page of MMA news sites around the world. A loss to a falsely hyped, unexperienced contender would be horrible for her picture and would probably force her into changing weight divisions, but atleast she would have that for a possible rebound. Should she challenge for the belt however, she is putting it all on the line. She may not be putting her belt on the line, but she is putting her entire career, her market, her stock, and her fans on the line. I can guarantee you that a lot of fight fans lost interest in Gina Carano when they saw her get her pretty face smashed into pieces by Cyborg, which is something that the majority of us don’t want to see happen to Rousey.
Now let’s add a different perspective on this situation and throw in the UFC’s point of view, more specifically Dana White’s point of view. He has been very vocal about how much he praises Ronda Rousey and how amazing he thinks she is, but will he still think the same of her if she loses? Dana White said so himself that if a women were to come to the UFC, Ronda Rousey would be the one to do it. Should Ronda lose to Cyborg, she could capsize the entire movement of bringing women to the UFC. Cyborg just isn’t as marketable as Ronda Rousey is, especially after her most recent drug test which she failed. In my opinion, there is more pressure on Ronda Rousey now more than ever and it couldn’t come at a worse time when deciding between two different divisions.
But let’s look at the end of the spectrum; what if she wins? If Ronda Rousey moves up to 145 and armbars Cyborg within in the first round, it still does not have a happy ending. Sure, Ronda would be known as the new number one pound-for-pound woman fighter, but it would crush the possibility of her fighting in the UFC. The only two fighters that have big enough names are Ronda and Cyborg, so if Dana wants to introduce women’s MMA into the UFC, this would be the fight to do so. If he misses out on this, then really won’t be another high profile match up for Rousey for quite sometime until they find someone and hype them up, which can take years. Ronda said in one of her post-fight interviews that after her fight with Cyborg, she would be open to other options and look at taking a break from competing. Could Ronda Rousey’s future in this sport end sooner than we think?
It all comes down to two questions; “Will Rousey put her imagine on the line and move up to face Cyborg in what should be the biggest female MMA fight in history.” And, “Will there still be enough interest in the sport for Ronda if she loses, and if she wins, then what is left for her in the sport.” What do you think she should do? She has a lot of fans and is leading the charge when it comes to putting women’s MMA in the UFC, but will she/can she sustain it?
Be sure to comment on the blog with your opinions on the subject, and the blog itself. If you would like to contact me personally, you can reach me at [email protected]. Thanks for reading.