Ronda Rousey: The Olympian’s Four Year Journey From Obscurity to Transcendental Crossover Superstar

I remember the first time I heard of Ronda Rousey. It was on a now defunct podcast named The Nothing But Show, the show had numerous guests throughout their episodes and lacked any real format, it was just a multi-hour long show reminiscent of you bullshitting with your buddies. This was towards the end of 2011, the precipice of her now awe-inspiring dominance.

Ronda Rousey: The Olympian’s Four Year Journey From Obscurity to Transcendental Crossover Superstar

Rousey was closing in on a year of mixed martial arts training and had only a handful of fights to her name, and she was already becoming notorious for her arm bars. One of the first lines of the interview was one of the hosts joking about how he wanted to learn the armbar to keep his wife’s attitude in check, Rousey was her usual snarky and witty self and replied that she wouldn’t show him but she would definitely show his spouse. The hosts all laughed and the interview proceeded in it’s normal, casual manner. The conversation was fun and entertaining but I couldn’t help but feel something special about this girl. At that point, I knew almost nothing of female fighting and barely anything about Strikeforce, but I knew I had to catch her next fight.

Fast forward a few months later, Strikeforce is promoting their first female headliner fight since Gina Carano Vs. Cris “Cyborg” Santos three years beforehand. Miesha Tate vs. Ronda Rousey was one of the biggest fights they had ever done, I knew this because I tuned in to watch and I never proactively sought out Strikeforce cards. The fight turned out nearly perfect for a newbie to women’s MMA like myself. I had a tremendous amount of respect for both Rousey and Tate and was astonished at how agressive and entertaining female bouts could be, but all I kept thinking was “That Rousey girl is gonna be a star.”

Clearly, I wasn’t wrong, as everybody in the MMA sphere wanted to meet and talk to Ronda Rousey the instant Tate’s elbow bent backwards. It’s been almost three and a half years since Rousey got that Strikeforce women’s bantamweight title, she’s still a champion, but what a ways away we are from that night in the Nationwide Arena in Columbus, Ohio.


After Ronda Rousey’s first title defense that saw her dispatch Sarah Kaufman in less than a minute, it was clear that this girl had the “it” factor, and there was no way that the UFC would leave this girl out in the cold or to fight in lower level shows. At a pre-fight press conference for UFC on FOX 5, UFC president Dana White announced that Rousey had signed a UFC contract and upgraded her Strikeforce title to a UFC title. One after the other, the opponents fell like dominoes and it became abundantly clear that no girl is on Rousey’s level.

Rousey’s last fight was the last bastion of hope people had that someone could be competitive with the “Rowdy” one. “Alpha” Cat Zingano was seen as the most legitimate threat in the division to Rousey and she didn’t last a quarter of a minute. Being there in the arena, I couldn’t help but feel that there was an aura surrounding her after that win.

I was one of those that thought that Zingano stood a chance and 14 seconds later I was in utter shock. To be completely honest, I began to get the feeling something spectacular was going to happen prior to the referee saying fight. Just the entrance of Rousey was a scene beyond comprehension in what is my jaded hometown of Los Angeles, California. People were ecstatic just to see Rousey’s face on the screen, and it was about thirty seconds into “Bad Reputation” by Joan Jett I realized this is not going to end well for Zingano. Cat Zingano was ultimately just another notch on Ronda Rousey’s belt, and now we are left with this.

Bethe Correia couldn’t have played up her antics at a better time. She’s now in the “Conor McGregor” era of the UFC and she exploited the MMA world’s current fascination with the trash talker to it’s full extent. Granted, McGregor is not the first and only trash talker to capture the imagination of the mixed martial arts spectator, it’s debatable he may not even be the best one, but his star power and bravado have evoked such palpable emotions from people, it seems to have bled through even onto other divisions. No one should fault Correia for being in the position she is currently. As the saying goes “When life gives you lemons, make lemonade,” Correia was handed nothing, but made something out of it. She flew to Australia to fight Julie Kedzie in a late replacement bout, she was then scheduled to fight with Jessamyn Duke, a random TUF alum who just so happened to be friends with the champion. After defeating her, Correia made a simple, mildly condescending gesture towards the champ and her teammates. In response, she had to face the other member of the poorly nicknamed “Four Horsewomen” in Shayna Baszler, whom she dismantled, to get the title shot that is cursed upon her today.


How so strange and unfortunate. A chance to expand your wealth, attain fame, and achieve an incredible goal can be described as a curse in disguise. This is nothing complicated, and I truly have a great deal of respect for anyone who’s analyzing the fight and making cases for Correia to win, but there’s no real necessity for this, because she has no chance at winning. It is no secret, UFC 190 will sell because of one thing and one thing only, the physical manifestation of the word blitzkrieg that is Ronda Rousey.

There is not much to write home about for this card, there is another women’s bout opening up the evening’s pay-per-view between Claudia Gadelha and Jessica Aguilar, and although it holds significant weight in regards to the women’s strawweight title picture, there is a decent possibility that it may be lackluster. Soa Palelei vs. Antonio “Bigfoot” Silva is a great fight in terms of concussive potential, but may not be a great fight for the audience in attendance, as the likelihood of the Brazilian winning is slim. There is a pair of The Ultimate Fighter: Brazil finals that seemingly no one outside of Brazil will care about. The Nogueira twins make a an appearance along with the fading Mauricio “Shogun” Rua in bouts that could very well see two of the three Brazilian legends left limp over the Monster Energy logo, and us at home with our heads down between our palms, sadly asking ourselves “What did I just watch?” And the main event features what might be the most heavily promoted squash match in the history of the Ultimate Fighting Championship.


Why pay sixty dollars for a fight in which the outcome is so glaringly obvious? Because we need to soak in every literal second of dominance that Ronda Rousey displays inside the Octagon. The following that Rousey has is staggering, hardcore MMA fans can be a little too close to the forest to see for the trees when it comes to her popularity. I was pretty unaware of it myself until I was at UFC 184 and heard Bruce Buffer say, “Live from the sold out Staples Center in Los Angeles, California,” UFC 184 was said to have been one of the biggest debacles in UFC history from a “what could’ve been” standpoint, with all the matchups that were lost to injury. A #SkipUFC184 hashtag and Twitter account were even made to try and boycott the event. The estimated pay-per-view numbers were respectable and tickets still sold out in one of the largest cities in America to watch this woman fight.

It was made very clear to me as Buffer read the official decision and Dana White wrapped the belt around Rousey’s waist that I just witnessed something unique, special and historic. I can forever say that I saw the best female fighter of all-time fight live in my hometown. That feeling seems to be resonating across the populous.

People are quickly realizing that Rousey will not stay in this sport much longer, she’s essentially wiped out the division and has an über promising career in Hollywood. Let’s treasure her, the concentrated amounts of violence she has displayed should be admired appropriately. There will be plenty of great female fighters that will emerge in the future, perhaps even better than her, but there will never be another Ronda Rousey.


LAS VEGAS, NV – JULY 05:  UFC women’s bantamweight champion Ronda Rousey (top) punches Alexis Davis while controlling her body in their UFC women’s bantamweight championship fight at UFC 175 inside the Mandalay Bay Events Center on July 5, 2014 in Las Vegas, Nevada.  (Photo by Josh Hedges/Zuffa LLC/Zuffa LLC via Getty Images)