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Sunday, Dec 02, 2012

Full Contact Fighter’s “The Daily Takedown:” In 2013, We Will Find Out If The UFC Believes in Woman’s MMA, Or Just Ronda Rousey

The UFC's first lady "Rowdy" Ronda Rousey

By Joshua Molina
Boxing had Muhammad Ali. Soccer had Pele. Football had Joe Namath. Pro wrestling had Hulk Hogan.

As popular and successful as the UFC is, it has not had the super game-changing, breakthrough star who emerges as a household name to the point where the star becomes bigger than the sport.

The closest the UFC came to birthing an American icon was Brock Lesnar, but he fell ill from diverticulitis. An imposing physical beast, his stature never matched his in-cage abilities, and his potential to carry the sport vanished with embarrassing knockout losses to Cain Velasquez and Alistair Overeem.

But the UFC story could all change in 2013. And oddly, the face of the sport won’t be a brash, hulking, gigantic mass of muscle who stands six feet three inches tall and weighs 260 pounds; it could be a flirty, blonde lioness, who is five foot six inches tall and 135 pounds of tanned muscle.

Few athletes have held so much of his or her sport in their hands as Ronda Rousey does right now.

Rousey will become the first woman fighter ever signed by the UFC, largely because of the incredible job of self-promotion she pulled off in 2012.
And we can expect true magic when Rousey steps into the Octagon, no matter who her opponent is.

She has emerged as the perfect American star for the sport of MMA. Undefeated, with a Mike Tyson-like ferocity inside the cage, coupled with her beauty pageant good looks, Rousey stands on the verge of taking mixed martial arts from a successful Pay Per View and television juggernaut, to a certified place in history as a legitimate cultural staple, alongside the NFL, MLB, the NBA and the WWE.

Somewhere, somehow, the Gods have smiled upon Rousey. But there’s a problem.

Can she carry the sport on her shoulders or will she flame out? And what happens when the magic of Rousey meets the magic of the UFC? Can they co-exist?

Up until now, Rousey has thrust herself into the fore of the MMA world largely on her own: her wicked six first-round professional victories and three amateur wins by armbar submission, her trash-talking mouth, and her appearance have created the perfect recipe. Her 2008 Olympic Bronze Medal in Judo gives people another reason to pay attention.

Rousey talked her way into a title shot against Strikeforce bantamweight champion Miesha Tate, over a more-experienced No. 1 contender in Sarah Kaufman, and then tapped out Tate in one of the most exciting rounds of the year. Then she went on to whip Kaufman.

Still, there’s a lot we don’t know about Rousey. Can she fight? While that sounds preposterous, we really don’t know how she will respond the first time she gets hit in the face. For all of her greatness, she’s been inside the cage for a total of 7 minutes and 34 seconds, and four minutes and 27 seconds of that came in one fight against Tate.

We know Rousey wins everytime the fight goes to the ground. But when happens when her opponent is successful and keeping the fight in the standup? While White like Rousey even after she stops being a financial juggernaut?

Strikeforce took a risk a few years ago and began promoting women’s fights, but it took the Rousey package to gain the attention of the UFC and Dana White. What happens if and when Rousey loses? Will White give up on women’s MMA or relegate it do the Facebook-televised undercard fights?

Rousey is a pioneer in many ways. She’s a woman entering the male-dominated world of UFC mixed martial arts. In 2013, we learn whether White is a true believer in women’s MMA or if he is just a true believer in Rousey, and is trying to cash in on Rousey’s popularity.

Anybody who has watched fighting for more than just the last five minutes knows that no one is unbeatable. Every great fighter has met his or her maker. So let’s hope White is a true believer in women’s MMA, and not just Rousey. Nobody knows how long Rousey will be around.

For Rousey, who famously received her first armbar training from her mother who used to wake her up in the middle of the night by applying an armbar submission hold on her, 2013 has the potential to be an iconic, historic year for her, women’s MMA, and the entire sport regardless of gender.

In order for that to happen, Rousey needs to win, and the UFC needs to have a plan to move forward and promote women’s MMA, even if she doesn’t.

posted by JoshuaM @ 6:38 pm
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