That’s how long Ronda Rousey lasted in her big return to UFC on December 30.
It was rough to see someone who was such an ambassador for MMA and really had a personality and a presence that transcended anything any superstar who originated within that sport had accomplished before.
I mean Ronda was everywhere for a while. Movies. Commercials. Talk shows. She was a bonafide celebrity.
I’m a casual fan of MMA at best. I tuned into fights to see approximately four people: Brock Lesnar and CM Punk because of their WWE ties and Ronda Rousey and Conor McGregor because they had larger than life charisma that made you want to watch them succeed.
During Ronda’s dominating run at the top of UFC’s women’s division, it was thrilling watching her take down all challengers throughout for almost three years was thrilling. You couldn’t help but cheer her on as she destroyed everyone in path on her way to becoming one of the biggest draws in MMA history and certainly the UFCs biggest crossover star.
Even after her loss to Holly Holm, you couldn’t help but feel for Ronda Rousey. Her appearance on the “Ellen” talk show where she talked about feeling so depressed after that loss that she was so depressed that she considered suicide.
This was a young woman who literally gave her mind, body and soul to UFC and its fans. To the point that a single loss threatened to destroy her.
How did fans of MMA repay Rousey for this dedication? For years of giving putting her body on the line for their entertainment?
Well they completely turned on her.
Many fans and even those who cover the sport mocked her for being “mentally weak”, for being a “disrespectful to the sport”, for being a “bad person” and that was when they weren’t generally finding every single way they could to demean her for being a woman.
Of course most of her detractors completely missed the point.
Rousey was never rude or disrespectful. She was playing the heel.
Ronda Rousey’s nickname was “Rowdy” after all. She took it from someone else. Ronda, you see, is a huge fan of professional wrestling. And of one wrestler in particular.
The late, great “Rowdy” Roddy Piper.
One of the greatest heels in professional wrestling history. The man who broke a coconut over “Superfly” Jimmy Snucka’s head. The man who made Cyndi Lauper cry when he destroyed her gold record over Captain Lou Albano’s head. The man who was Hulk Hogan’s main adversary during the launch of the WrestleMania era.
If you were going to be a bad guy in pro wrestling, MMA or anywhere else there is no better man to emulate than Roddy Piper.
Nobody was more aware of this than Ronda Rousey.
The fight game is as psychological as it is anywhere else. In her posturing during press conferences, her heelish antics with people who covered MMA, her trash talking of her opponents and any refusals to otherwise tow the line with the conventions that other fighters followed, Ronda set herself apart.
Any fight demands a certain amount of theatrics around it. Since the days of Muhammad Ali, fans have demanded larger than life personas and responded well to them. Rousey is very much in that mold.
Of course, UFC fans don’t get it.
To be honest I don’t think they want to.
Is what Ronda Rousey did or the way she acted any different than the antics of current MMA bad boy/superstar Conor McGregor?
Of course not. In fact Rousey never went that far. But let’s face it, the UFC before Ronda Rousey was exclusively a man’s game and without her – and without a woman with the level of appeal, charisma and magnetism that she had to replace her – the UFC is likely to return to being exclusively a man’s game.
Let’s face it a lot of fans don’t want her to succeed because she’s a woman who dared to become the face of UFC for a time. They’ll deny it now but during her run at the top, Rousey was by far the biggest draw that MMA ever saw.
I mean the fact that anyone would take jabs at her for talking about her mental state and being brave enough to publicly acknowledge a battle with depression is displaying the type of awful worldview they hold. Sadly there are a large amount of these sorts of individuals who populate UFC’s fanbase and spend their time covering MMA.
Seriously, check out some of these so-called “journalists”, it’s appalling. Or better yet, just save yourself and don’t. There are far too many reasons to lose your faith in humanity in the world today.
The type of people who participate in this type of garbage don’t deserve a superstar like Ronda Rousey and she’s got enough of a mainstream following that she doesn’t need to be a part of UFC anymore.
She’s bigger than MMA.
So where can a dominant woman get a fair shake in combat sports these days?
Well……I mean it depends how loosely you want to use the “sport” aspect of that statement, because there is one destination that has advanced light years recently in terms of how it treats its female performers.
WWE is undergoing a full-blown renaissance in terms of how it treats its female performers.
That days of women being used exclusively for titillation – the days of the Sunnys and Sables and the bra-and-panties matches – are long gone.
Instead WWE is now pushing women as legitimate competitors largely due to Sara Del Rey and the crew of ladies she trained in the NXT developmental territory who now find themselves on the main WWE roster.
Sasha Banks, Charlotte Flair, Bayley, Becky Lynch, Nia Jax, Alexa Bliss, Carmella, Dana Brooke, Emma and Paige have joined main roster workers like Natalya Neidhart, Alicia Fox and Naomi to form an extremely entertaining women’s division across both Raw and Smackdown while Japanese superstar Asuka and new phenom Ember Moon tear up the NXT show. Even former pin-up girl Nikki Bella has become a legitimate performer.
Charlotte Flair and Sasha Banks became the first women to main event a WWE pay-per-view and did so in a Hell in A Cell cage match. Women were once relegated to three minute throwaway matches that cooled the crowd down before a main event and are now the main attractions themselves. Some of the most compelling characters and best storylines in the company are amongst the female performers. Women’s wrestling, for the first in WWE history, is being treated as seriously and as on par as the male counterpart.
Even the formerly demeaning term “diva” to refer to a female wrestler is gone, the women are simply superstars like anyone else. Sasha Banks can be seen as just as important to the program as any other performer in the company. A women’s title match suddenly has the big event feel as any other title bout.
There is even talk of an exclusively women’s wrestling show on the WWE Network.
It would be a major coup for the WWE to land Ronda Rousey and further legitimize their efforts in women’s wrestling.
Rousey, herself, is also no stranger to WWE. In addition of being a self-described life-long fan, she has also appeared at several WWE live events. Most notably at WrestleMania 31 in 2015 when she participated in a skit with Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson in which the two faced off with Triple H and Stephanie McMahon with Rousey getting the best of both of them.
The hoped for intergender tag team match never happened but it can now.
The benefits to WWE are obvious. Rousey is a massive name to add to their roster. One who already comes with mainstream appeal and a legitimate fighting background. It gives them the opportunity to pull one over on UFC after they poached Brock Lesnar after he built his name in professional wrestling.
For Ronda Rousey, the benefits are also pretty clear. WWE is much better at building and marketing stars than UFC could ever dream of being. This is the company that helped launch Dwayne Johnson into the stratosphere. He is now the highest grossing movie star in the world.
Current face of the company, John Cena, is a household name as are previous stars Stone Cold Steve Austin and Hulk Hogan. I can’t think of many people who don’t know who The Undertaker, Macho Man Randy Savage and, yes, Roddy Piper, are. Even if they’ve never watched a WWE show in their life, they are vaguely familiar with certain wrestlers.
Ask someone who has never watched UFC to name one fighter and they’d probably say Ronda Rousey to be honest. WWE gives her a chance to increase that mainstream appeal.
Beyond that, Rousey wants to be a movie star. She has a remake of “Road House” lined up and undoubtedly has her sights set on more. WWE has its own movie studio. It consistently produces films to varying degrees of success starring its own wrestlers. The movies have had varying degrees of success for sure, but there aren’t many people in the sporting world who have Ronda Rousey’s level of appeal. There is the potential for a very mutually beneficial relationship there.
WWE can open doors for her that UFC never could.
If how how hard Stephanie McMahon has been openly courting her in interviews is any indication, the company is salivating to bring in the former UFC champ and push her to the moon. I’d imagine that there’s even a sweetheart deal with big money and limited dates similar to what Brock Lesnar enjoys on the table.
This is literally the one of the only propositions in sports where both sides can’t lose.
Nothing would make me happier than to see Ronda Rousey show up on RAW one Monday and beat down Charlotte Flair for that women’s title.
Honestly, if you’re a fan of hers and have watched the way MMA turned their back on her, you should probably be hoping for the same outcome for the “Rowdy” one.
Go get ’em Ronda.