When You Watch Ronda Rousey, You're Watching History In The Making

It’s difficult to pinpoint the precise moment when Ronda Rousey became a 'star'.

It wasn’t when she beat Meisha Tate for the first time, becoming the Strikeforce Bantamweight Champion and, for all intents and purposes, the best female fighter in the world.

It probably wasn’t the moment when, in a remarkable u-turn inspired in part by Ronda, UFC President Dana White decided that yes, the UFC would have women’s fights and a women’s division. And that Ronda would be the champion of that division.

And it most likely wasn’t when Ronda defeated Liz Carmouche in her first defence of the women’s UFC bantamweight title. Although that came pretty close.

Arguably it was all those moments combined. But if it was possible to pinpoint one specific moment where Ronda moved out of the MMA bubble and into the mainstream, it was most likely the moment when Ronda, after winning Fighter of the Year at the ESPYs over Floyd Mayweather, openly wondered how Floyd felt about being beaten by a woman for once.

Discussions about double standards aside (in her auto biography Ronda admits hitting a boyfriend for taking naked pictures of her unaware) it was a significant turning point for both Mixed Martial Arts and women in sport. It signaled a transition: the world’s best boxer had been usurped by an MMA fighter who also happened to be a woman. A woman who then rubbed salt in the wound by calling out Floyd -- in a concise, tweet-sized, instagrammable fashion – for a disgusting history of domestic abuse.

That moment, in a sense, was everything. It was a punk moment. It was women asserting themselves in a male dominated culture. A new sport waving its flag over the waning institution of boxing. It was a broad statement: MMA feels coolerm more significant than boxing, particularly when Ronda is involved.

It was a moment that played into multiple different media narratives, not least that open-ended discussion: could Ronda Rousey beat the world’s best boxer in a fight? The answer: almost certainly. Unless that fight were in a boxing ring. That’s the nature of this discussion and its defining point: Floyd Mayweather is a boxer, he is a master student of that one specific art. Ronda is a fighter.

But Ronda’s statement was more than MMA vs Boxing. In the scheme of things that’s trivial. Ronda isn't just a fighter, she's a superstar. And that moment made her a superstar because it represented female empowerment in the rawest sense. Ronda literally walked fearlessly into a male-dominated spaces and made it her own. That’s powerful. That means something. In some ways it makes her a historic figure.

And that's what makes Ronda so compelling: it doesn’t matter whether she is fighting, talking, or appearing at Wrestlemania – when you watch Ronda Rousey, you are literally watching history in the making.

Today’s fight in Melbourne -- the entire card, the event itself –- it's historic. It’s the first UFC show in Melbourne. In terms of attendance it’s set to be the biggest UFC event ever.

An event headlined by a woman; driven by a woman; made possible by a woman. That’s the power of history in the making, that’s the power of Ronda Rousey.

And interestingly, it’s a fight driven by very similar forces, similar tensions simmering beneath the surface. Ronda’s opponent, Holly Holm, is arguably one of the greatest female boxers that ever lived. A boxer that made the transition into MMA because of the intense maelstrom of attention that Ronda brought to the sport. To get the attention she deserved, Holly had to come to female MMA; the house that Ronda built.

For Holly, it's a tough situation. This is a fight the overarching narrative demands she lose. To reassert the dominance of mixed martial arts over boxing, to bolster the legacy of Ronda. The woman who obliterates barriers one at a time; the woman who makes history with every single step she takes.


Comments

    Probably also notable that Rousey is cool enough as a person and a fighter to get people like me that don't really care about UFC, at least kinda interested.

    I will be honest and say I had never heard of Rhonda until wrestlemania and even then I had to search for her on the internet while the event was going on to try and understand why everyone was so excited. So for me that was the point she became a household name (I saw her name everywhere since then and was even was able to appreciate her launch into movies with fast an furious 7, for if it wasn't for wrestlemania, she simply would have been another nameless movie extra to me at the time).
    I don't like UFC in the slightest, it is too real and too brutal (hence why she was under the radar at that point), so to reach the status that she has now, she has done very VERY well for herself. I applaud you Rhonda, all power to you.
    Ps. Don't judge me for enjoying wrestling but not UFC, I acknowledge wrestling is staged and choreographed and that is what appeals to me more, when I can go with the crowd on a story and appreciate the athleticism of the storytellers.

    Last edited 15/11/15 11:51 am

      I looooooove wrestling. I don't think you're alone on that one at Kotaku!

    As a complete outsider who doesn't follow MMA or UFC, I couldn't tell you the names of any other fighters except Ronda Rousey.

    Rousey is pretty darn boss. It helps that she's gone against some awful people.
    The only thing I know about Holly is that she got pretty aggressive in the weigh in, and they had to be broken up or something. It didn't look very sportsmanshippy.

    Then that was other woman who shittalked Rousey's dead father (or whatever). That fight was a good half minute of karma, huh?

      The only thing I know about Holly is that she got pretty aggressive in the weigh in, and they had to be broken up or something. It didn't look very sportsmanshippy.

      And it was Rousey that insitgated it too, there's a reverse camera angle showing that she hooked Holm's arm, pulled it toward her face, then went off like a frog in a sock claiming Holms hit her.

    it makes her a historical figure

    If she is still alive, she can't really be a historical figure? Did you mean historic figure?

    Today’s fight in Melbourne — the entire card, the event itself –- it’s historical

    And if the fight is today (current or in the future), it can't be historical. I think you mean historic.

    Last edited 15/11/15 12:35 pm

    So the top women's UFC fighter and the top men's boxer in the world...are both domestic violence offenders.

    But we should take fighting seriously as a productive sporting pursuit? And these people are worthy of monikers like 'star' and 'role model'?

    That's a good one. Have you heard about the latest Irish invention, too?

    She's bleh. Has a boring, cold unfeeling face. If she was a guy people would ridicule her as another meathead brawler with nothing to contribute to a modern society. She's only doing what apes have done for millions of years. I'll pass on this boring cospw, thanks

    Holly just TKO Ronda, awesome fight.

    Just got her arse handed to her...maybe next time she'll touch gloves...

    The woman who makes history one step at a time? Does that include the step where she got knocked the fuck out?

      Everyone loses eventually. Doesn't change a single thing about her incredible rise to prominence.

      Even if she never fights again, or fights and loses from here on out, she's done incredible things.

    lol Serrels got caught up in the hype train. She couldn't beat a female boxer. So why does she think she could beat Mayweather?

    Last edited 16/11/15 5:53 am

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