Does it mean anything if Rousey loses fan popularity?

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Ronda Rousey is the reason women are in the UFC. Once the 2008 Olympic medalist in Judo signed with the UFC, she received unprecedented media coverage for any fighter, male or female. “Rowdy” landed on the cover of ESPN The Magazine’s body issue, made Maxim magazine’s “Hot 100,” made the cover there too, and generally appeared to be a transforming figure in WMMA.

When it was announced that she would be coaching on the 18th season of The Ultimate Fighter, expectation reached a crescendo. However, right before TUF 18 debuted, Rousey gave a curious interview.

“I think it was very good for the women’s division, and I think it definitely needed to happen, but you couldn’t pay me $10 million to do it again,” Rousey said. “How could people possibly know who you are from a couple of clips of a video that people are seeing out of context? That’s no way for people to get to know you, so I’m just preparing for people to get the worst idea of who I am.”

Her words were prescient.

Rousey’s demeanor on the show lost her some fans. This fact was brought home when the far less heralded Miesha Tate, who coached opposite Rousey on TUF, received more votes in the tournament to decide who will appear with Jon Jones on the cover of EA Sports debut UFC game.

The UK’s Gareth A. Davies talks about what happened, and what it means.

There has been something a little abhorrent seeing Ronda in people’s faces week after week through 11 episodes of TUF. Though, on a personal level, Ronda getting into the face of Dennis Hallman was a standout moment for me. Rousey has no fear. And certainly not of any man.

There is the argument that Tate was able to act her way through the series and utilize it as a powerful PR vehicle.

The difference is that Tate has shown a propensity to play to the camera, aware of them being there. Rousey couldn’t give a damn whether the cameras are there or not.

Ask Mrs. Rousey: “Ronda holds a grudge to extreme. That’s good for her as a competitor, because she is highly motivated by spite. Miesha would be wise to never fight Ronda. Because Ronda holds a grudge, and once her mind is made up, she won’t change.” And there lies the rub.

In late December, that cage door will slam shut. Rousey will then show the proverbial finger when winning a vote will not mean a thing.

Then, in Ronda’s words, it will be “Team Real/Mean” versus “Team Fake/Nice” and I don’t need to spell out what “Rowdy” is getting at…

Regardless of whether Ronda Rousey gets booed into the Octagon, watch who gets the thumbs up from the fight. And there — indeed — will be the real vote.

Fighting, and being champion, is about winning. It’s not a popularity contest.

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