Opinion: The Retirement of Ronda Rousey?
By Jesse Heitz
This past week has undoubtedly been an unusual one for MMA. One event has transpired recently, which rises above the other stories in circulation, even to the level of alarming some, if not many, members of the MMA world. This particular event, despite its newness, is already dominating the news cycle. Naturally I’m talking about Ronda Rousey’s plans for a not-so-distant retirement.
In an interview with MMAjunkie.com (a recap of which can be found here on Full Contact Fighter), Rousey stated,
“I said from the beginning that I work in quadrennials. I do four-year cycles. I think I’ve got two years left in me, realistically, if I’m going to do this like an Olympic run.”
“I am the best f–king fighter in the world, and I truly believe that, but you’re still rolling the dice no matter who you are, so I do have to kind of set up an exit strategy. That’s what I did wrong in judo. I followed it all the way until the end, and I didn’t put any thought into after.”
“I’ve got two more years to get the ball rolling without me. TUF was the first step. It’s not the last one, but the work’s getting done.”
Similar to many breaking stories, it may very well be pertinent to wade through these controversial waters with caution. However, one cannot deny that such statements are quite alarming. Ronda Rousey, aside from being the UFC Women’s Bantamweight Champion, is the unquestionable face of women’s MMA. She was the catalyst in opening the world’s top promotion to female fighters.
Does Rousey simply have a professional or athletic attention span that only lasts four years? That may be a simple yet plausible answer. Yet, I’m unconvinced. I think it’s simply a matter of Rousey stumbling upon greener pastures. Reports indicate that she’s in line to capture roles in some of Hollywood’s most popular and lucrative film franchises. To be certain, there’s nothing wrong with pursuing greater paydays, that’s something everyone can support, but what about the impacts her departure will have on women’s MMA, that is the true concern at play here.
To be sure, I have concerns about the impact such a brief tenure of Rousey in MMA. She’s only been an active professional fighter for two and a half years, with a mere seven fights under her belt. She’s had a single fight in the UFC, and if she keeps to her two year retirement plan, she’ll have what, maybe four or six more fights before hanging up her gloves? Does that provide enough time to cement the place of women’s MMA in the UFC? Is this even something we should be worrying about at this early stage?
I don’t necessarily enjoy being critical of Rousey, which many recent pieces can be viewed to have been. Nevertheless, I’m a firm believer that if honest criticism is warranted then it ought to be given, and in this case, criticism is warranted.