HBO will profile their first MMA fighter in an upcoming spotlight on “Real Sports with Bryant Gumbel”. The program will air on February 19th at 10 p.m. ET. The feature will focus on the UFC’s first female fighter, Ronda Rousey. Ronda will headline UFC 157 and from the looks of this teaser, people will be interested to see her journey continue.
One of my favorite hardbody women, Ronda Rousey continues to make history. When she’s not arm-barring someone inside the cage she’s giving the media a headline to chat about. Sure she has the looks but that will only take you so far in any walk of life. What’s attractive to any business is the all-mighty dollar and Rousey is money. Ronda rocked the cover of ESPN Magazine The Body Issue, she’s on the current cover of Oxygen magazine and featured in the newest Esquire. She’s doing appearances on talk shows and getting out of her comfort zone because she knows it’s good business not only for her but also the Ultimate Fighting Championships (UFC). The UFC is the fastest growing sport and in two months Ronda will not only be the first female to fight on their roster, she’s also headlining it.
UFC President, Dana White was against women in the UFC telling TMZ we’d “never” see them in the octagon.That was until Rousey came along. Now Dana White is not only bringing women’s MMA into the fold but he’s also made it the headline fight for UFC 157.
Oh what a difference a year makes.
Last year around this time fight fans were blasting Rousey for her lack of experience in MMA and claiming she was a one-trick pony. Ronda is known for arm-bar finishes inside the cage. Some call Rousey cocky but in the words of Kid Rock, “It ain’t braggin’ m_f_er if ya back it up.” She’s backed it up before and she’ll have the chance to do it all over again in Anaheim, California on Feb 23, 2013.
Not everyone is stoked about Ronda having top billing though. The co-main event features former UFC light-heavyweight champ Lyoto Machida against Dan Henderson. Dan Henderson’s striking coach, Gustavo Pugliese, was none to pleased with ‘Rousey vs Carmouche’ getting billing over the injury plagued fighter. After posting a rant on facebook he clarified (kind of) his comments to GracieMag.
“Where I come from, there’s a pecking order for anything in life,” he explained. “I believe in paying dues. In this particular case, ‘Hendo’ and Machida paid their dues a long time ago. For someone new to come in and have a free ride just seems unfair to them and the whole sport they helped build.”
He’s right they have “paid their dues” but with all due respect that doesn’t entitle you to blast Rousey and claim she’s getting a “free ride”. Like the boys, she’s paid her dues and now she’ll get the chance to let the world see on PPV.
Deal with it.
This isn’t the first time Henderson and Rousey have shared the spotlight. Earlier this year UFC magazine (now UFC 360) featured the two fighters on the cover of their Olympic issue. Henderson is an accomplished wrestler but never won an Olympic medal. Rousey on the other hand was the Judo bronze medalist in the 2008 Beijing Summer Olympics. She became the first American woman to win an Olympic medal in Judo.
Rousey was originally scheduled to make her Strikeforce debut on the same card as ‘Henderson vs Fedor’ in 2011 however the fight was pushed back. She went onto win the rescheduled fight and months later became the Strikeforce Women’s Bantamweight Champion.
I’m willing to bet more casual MMA fans know who Ronda Rousey is than Dan Henderson. Diehard MMA fans will tune into the PPV no matter what but it’s the new fans that the UFC is eyeing. Dana White isn’t stupid. He recognizes the hard work Rousey has been doing in and out of the cage. She’s everywhere in the media and finishes her business in the cage.
That’s good business not only for Rousey but also the UFC. Tickets for UFC 157 go on sale Friday, December 21, 2012.
UFC logo and poster via zuffa – UFC.