Ronda Rousey’s Irreverence Breathes Life Into Women’s MMA
Following Saturday night’s Strikeforce main event women’s bantamweight championship showdown between 2008 Beijing Olympic Judo bronze medalist Ronda Rousey and Strikeforce champion Miesha Tate, it was expected that the unpleasantries exchanged in the lead-up to the bout would fall to the martial arts’ code of honor and respect after their inevitable clash. Rousey admittedly started the war of words as a ploy to hype the fight, but like anything in which the other party is kept in the dark — things escalated into personal insults and heated animosity. Strangely, four minutes and twenty-seven seconds of chaos didn’t squash their beef, at least not in Rousey’s mind.
After the near-amputation of Tate’s arm that ended her short reign as champion, Rousey was surprisingly honest during the post-fight interview, telling fans that she was still sour over the head-clashing incident at the weigh-ins the day before. Naturally, her reaction struck a negative chord with the portion of the fanbase wanting to see two great fighters show mutual admiration for each other.
Like a toned down version of Rocky III’s Clubber Lang, Rousey spit fire in the weeks leading up to last night’s bout. She talked the talk brilliantly, and Tate took the bait. But what’s the point in ‘talking the talk’ if you’re going to shake hands afterward and tell everyone it was a ruse to promote the fight?
Fighters care too much about perception. UFC veterans Chael Sonnen and Michael Bisping don’t care if you love ‘em or hate ‘em, but other fighters seem to have an obsession with making sure everyone loves them. Why? Why are we subjected to fabricated emotions that don’t exist? As former UFC champion Jens Pulver proved, even in defeat — honesty is a powerful tool.
Whether Rousey’s reaction to the question was a continuance of a character or an honest reaction, it doesn’t matter. There has never been a fighter like Ronda Rousey in women’s mixed martial arts. The combination of beauty and braun has existed before, but Rousey has embraced the psychological warfare that transcends gender boundaries and appeals to all fans. Other fighters have shamed her choice of words, but the reality is that ‘talking the talk’ is exactly what women’s MMA needs to walk the walk.