White: Ronda Rousey is underrated

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

In 2015 former UFC women’s bantamweight champion Rousey was named by ESPN as the best fighter, male or female, in all of combat sports, pushing aside Floyd Mayweather. Her autobiography made the New York Times bestseller list. She appeared in multiple Hollywood movies. She was on the cover of Sports Illustrated. And she was #3 for Google’s top trending people; #4 was Donald Trump.

Then in November of 2015, she lost to Holly Holm via beating. A loss in MMA is not career ending. Randy Couture’s record is 19-11. Conor McGregor is 2-2 his last four bouts. However, Rousey went largely media silent after the first loss, and then badly lost her 2016 return fight to Amanda Nunes. She has now apparently retired.

Many comments about Rousey today are unkind. People forget that Conor McGregor has never defended a belt, while in barely over 18 months Rousey successfully defended her title five times, in a cumulative 3:08. It included arguably the greatest submission in league history.

Before Rousey there were no women in the UFC and little prospect of any; now there are four divisions. UFC president Dana White appeared recently on the Pardon My Take podcast and defended her record.

“[Rousey is] underrated,” said White, as transcribed by MMA Weekly. “Look at what she did. Look at what she built. She started it all.”

“You had such a dominant female fighter. She was so bad ass and she spoke well and she was pretty. That whole combination of what she was built that whole female mixed martial arts phenomenon. She was the right person at the right time to do it.”

Rousey’s walkout song was Joan Jett’s “Bad Reputation” and not without reason. But aggressive personalities in male fighters are revered, while a central core of intelligence and dignity are not; you can ask Demetrious Johnson or Brock Lesnar for confirmation. So Rousey’s cockiness is no good reason to underrate her accomplishments. She’s gone, but the hardcore fanbase should give her her due as one of the most influential and exciting fighters in the sport’s history.