Is Ronda Rousey the Real No. 1 Contender?
Fight Network Staff / January 9, 2012 - 3:01pm
The comparisons between professional wrestling and mixed martial arts are endless, whether fans of combat sports want to admit it or not.
Sure, there are the obvious differences. The most obvious being that one is sports entertainment with fixed matches while the other is sport in perhaps its purest form. Mixed martial arts fans scoff at pro wrestling for their ridiculous story lines, but perhaps these fans need to look in the mirror. Chael Sonnen and Josh Koscheck have both smack talked their way into world title opportunities in the last two years using their chatter box and marketability more so than their fighting ability.
The most recent and perhaps most compelling example however is the sport’s hottest female, “Rowdy” Ronda Rousey. Anywhere you look, Rousey’s face appears.
Without question, Rousey has all the tools to be the face of women’s mixed martial arts for years to come. Her good lucks, charming personality, and fan friendly social media interaction are exactly what the women of this sport need to get noticed in this male dominated shark tank.
That’s not even mentioning her actual fighting skills. Rousey, at only 24, is a former three time Pan American Judo medalist (Two golds, one bronze), a silver medalist in the Judo World Championships, and a bronze medalist in the 2008 Olympic Games. If that’s not enough, Rousey is 4-0 as a professional fighter and 3-0 as an amateur. All seven of those victories have come by arm bar. If you’re still not impressed, take into account the fact that all seven of those victories came in under a minute. Tell me how many fighters you know with that kind of start to their career?
That’s what I thought.
With all that in mind, all systems are a go for Rousey to step up to the plate and get a crack of Meisha Tate’s newly won Strikeforce Bantamweight Championship this March.
Victoria, B.C native and former Strikeforce Bantamweight Champion Sarah Kaufman has come out saying that the idea of Rousey receiving the next world title opportunity is “ridiculous.” This stems from the fact that Kaufman believes she should be next in line, for a multitude of reasons. The first being that Kaufman is 2-0 since losing her championship and is 14-1 in her career. The other, and perhaps more convincing argument, is that Kaufman holds a victory over the current champion in a fight between the two back in May of 2009.
Being overlooked by Strikeforce is nothing new for Kaufman. Even after finally becoming world champion, her fights were often held on the less publicized and poorly viewed Strikeforce Challengers shows, and often were not even the main event of those. Her value to Strikeforce has often seemed minuscule and this is just another example.
Rousey has been positioning herself for a world title opportunity with every chance she gets, while Kaufman has been waiting in the wings for the chance she believes she has earned.
At the end of the day, Strikeforce is a company. Companies have to be making money to stay alive, especially one that constantly seems to be teetering on the edge of collapsing. The potential for failure seems to be hiding around every corner for Strikeforce and one poorly attended show or low rating could result in Zuffa pulling the plug.
At what point does marketability overpower fighting ability? Perhaps we just found out. If Kaufman had gone on an adrenaline fueled tyrant after her victory over Liz Carmouche, would we still be seeing Rousey get the title shot? Who knows.
With Rousey being as hot as she is, putting her in against a top contender would not hurt her popularity one bit and would also put to rest any questions about her being worthy of a title bout. Her popularity is rising by the day and putting her in against a contender while Kaufman and Tate sort out the title picture would do nothing but help her development.
Like any prospect, pushing them too fast can only be harmful. We saw the UFC slowly ascend Jon Jones, Frankie Edgar, and Junior Dos Santos towards title shots. They clearly are not following a similar path with Rousey and only time will tell how it works out.