In all sports, rosters change like diapers, getting rid of the old crap and bringing in the fresh and new. It happens so frequently that it’s sometimes difficult to remember every athlete’s name. Occasionally an all-star comes around those and players are usually well known by the general public. But then, once every blue moon there is a shooting star, the greats, the names that never go away. These are the people who break barriers, set the bar and open doors for others to follow. Ronda Rousey is that shooting star.
Rousey is defending her UFC belt for the third straight time on Saturday, July 5 at UFC 175 against Alexis Davis. Davis is a tough opponent with many impressive wins under her belt and has a promising future in the sport. Unfortunately for Davis who is a thoroughbred in her own right, she must face a unicorn. Davis is an all-star in a women’s division that is just beginning to build a strong roster but Rousey is the Queen at the top of the mountain, the reason that girls like Davis get to eat in this sport.
Lets look back for a second here. It was only a few years ago when UFC president Dana White said, “never,” when asked if women would ever fight in the UFC. Fast-forward to the present and the UFC’s women’s division maybe the most popular and exciting division in the organization. But the women’s division may have never existed if it weren’t for Ronda Rousey.
Sure, there is a long list of women who have paved the way before Rousey ever broke arms, tore ligaments and crushed dreams. Women like Gina Carano, Julie Kedzie and Megumi Fujii were not only fighting before Rousey but they were also damn good. Those three ladies along with a list of other talented women were all all-stars and should never be forgotten for their contributions to the sport but Rousey is a legend. If I didn’t see her with my own two eyes she be teetering on the edge of mythical at this point.
In 2011, relatively unknown Ronda Rousey won her first pro fight, in the first round, by armbar. After only a couple fights in lesser-known organizations, Rousey was picked up by Strikeforce and ran through every woman in the division, snatching up armbars in the first round like trophies, each one a reminder of things to come for the next women who steps in the cage with her.
In 2012 her dominance caught the eye of UFC president Dana White who usually isn’t one to admit when he’s wrong, had to do just that. White could no longer deny the star power, skills and overall quality of Rousey and other female fighters, a group he once shunned with no hesitation.
In 2013 women’s MMA made it to the UFC, the biggest stage in mixed martial arts, with Ronda Rousey at the forefront. Rousey would defeat a very game Liz Carmouche, in the first round with her signature armbar and become the first women’s champion in the UFC.
Since her first fight in the UFC Rousey has defended the belt twice and is prepared to do so again this Saturday, but for athletes like Rousey it’s not just about the belt. It’s about being the greatest, always striving to be better, to dominate and to leave a mark that so few before her where able to make.
You do not become a fighter with a record of 9-0, eight of those fights ending in the first round and seven of those first round wins by armbar, without filling buckets with blood, swet and tears over the years. You no not synch up armbars submissions with ease without drilling in the gym so much that it almost breaks you and you do not defy the odds without using them to motivate you.
This is what separates the good from the great. This is why Rousey is a legend already. She is a hall of famer who just isn’t done fighting yet. Her accomplishments in this sport have changed the game forever and this is why Rousey will always be known as more than just a fighter.
Rousey changed a skewed perception on women’s MMA and forced people to pay attention. When female fighting was considered taboo, she made everyone talk about it, when it was called brutal she made it beautiful, when it was just a passing fad she made it last forever.