After appearing in the cage for 4:27 in her championship win against Miesha Tate this past Saturday, Ronda Rousey now has been in the cage for 8 minutes and 29 seconds during her amateur and professional mixed martial arts career. But given her personality both inside and outside of the cage, she is certainly not nearing the end of her 15 minutes of fame.
Prior to earning a title shot against then-champion Miesha Tate, Rousey had yet to even appear on a regular Strikeforce card. She had two Strikeforce Challengers wins to her name, but her MMA career still did not lengthen her resume by much.
Rousey, a bronze medalist in Judo at the 2008 Olympics in Beijing, was the first American woman to ever earn a medal in Judo at the Olympics. But it did not take her long to realize that there was not much money to be earned if she continued her current career. She then set her sights on a career in MMA, making her amateur debut just two years after earning the Olympic medal.
With her strong pedigree and Judo background, Rousey quickly acclimated to the new art, as she defeated all three of her opponents during her amateur career in under a minute. That continued as she transitioned to fighting as a professional, defeating her first four opponents in a combined 2 minutes and 18 seconds.
Following her win in November against Julia Budd, Rousey began to become more vocal, immediately calling out Strikeforce bantamweight champion Miesha Tate. The champion was quick to dismiss Rousey, touting her as inexperienced and not worthy of fighting for the title.
But that did not deter Rousey, as she continued to state her case why she should fight for the title. She agreed that she lacked experience, but that the division needed a kick in the ass. She was here to provide that, and Strikeforce agreed.
After Gina Carano left MMA, women’s MMA has suffered in popularity and in marquee fights. Cris “Cyborg” Santos was dominant as champion, but never appealed to fans anywhere near as much as Carano. Other champions like Marloes Coenen and Sarah Kaufman suffered from the same ordeal.
While Miesha Tate brought more notoriety than any of those fighters, Rousey has brought more than any of those women combined.
Rousey brings a bravado and attitude that has been sorely lacking over the last few years. Carano never had the sense of confidence that Rousey displays, instead appealing fans with her looks. Rousey certainly is appealing in that way, but the always reliable ‘it’ factor applies to her as well.
Women’s MMA has needed a spokeswoman to take over. No one had stepped up to give you a reason to watch the women fight. More importantly, Rousey is demanding you watch, and it is a mistake if you do not.
But just as important with her attitude outside of the cage, her demeanor carries inside to the cage, as well. She had Tate in an armbar within the first minute, but was unable to force her to tap. Once the fight was standing again, Rousey was tagged a few times by Tate. But she stood her ground and was able to pull her into her game again, and finished yet another fight with an armbar submission.
Now women’s MMA, and just as importantly, Strikeforce, has a model fighter to build the organization around. As the marquee organization that holds women’s fights, Strikeforce has an opportunity to take advantage of this. As long as they continue to develop challengers for Rousey, the story will only continue to grow. As Rousey grows as a fighter, she will only grow as a spokeswoman, as well.