Ronda Rousey’s Ultimate Fighting Championship dominance will make it increasingly difficult to sell her fights if marketing any doubt of the outcome.
In an armlock submission of No. 1-ranked contender Cat Zingano on Saturday night at Staples Center, Venice’s unbeaten women’s bantamweight champion added a UFC title-fight-record 14-second victory to her string of first-round wins that included fights lasting 66 and 16 seconds last year.
UFC President Dana White quickly altered Rousey’s branding in his post-fight news conference, embracing the suggestion that she has become “the female version of” Mike Tyson.
In other words: Come for the fighter, not the fight.
It might’ve been a one-sided outcome, but 17,654 piled into Staples Center, making a $2.67-million live gate with promising pay-per-view projections.
“No women in the history of combat sports have done anything remotely close to this,” White said.
“A lot of women’s sports are ridiculed. ‘Aww, it’s the WNBA.’ ‘Women’s golf hits from the shorter tees.’ ‘Women’s tennis, they don’t hit as hard.’ Nobody [criticizes] a Ronda Rousey fight.”
Rousey was quickly charged by Zingano (9-1), and flipped over, but kept her composure.
“Because she had heard so much about being a slow starter, I thought she would come at me straightaway,” Rousey said. “I was expecting it could happen.”
Rousey said, “on the fly, as we were going toward the ground, I reverted back into judo mode about not touching your back … just a natural reaction because of judo.”
The 2008 bronze medalist in judo was schooled originally by her mother, whom Rousey said once won a fight with a “one-second armbar.”
She can’t top that, but with her right arm, she locked Zingano’s arm, bending it to the point the challenger had to tap out and lament how months of training were reduced to a footnote.
“I just want to know what I need to do to get in there again,” Zingano asked.
White is in a tough spot to find a capable challenger.
UFC Chairman Lorenzo Fertitta texted, “I’m in awe. Crazy.”
Former boxing champion Holly Holm, now 8-0 in mixed martial arts, had an uninspired UFC debut in her split-decision win over Raquel Pennington, and while Bethe Correia is unbeaten with two wins over Rousey’s close friends, she isn’t the caliber of Zingano.
Rousey said she told Zingano afterward that she deserves a rematch.
“I know what Cat’s capable of, and I’d like to see more of what she’s capable of,” Rousey said.
But who’s going to pay to watch that?
Meanwhile, White personally watched 145-pound Invicta fighter Cris “Cyborg” Justino win by first-round stoppage Friday in Los Angeles. But he said Justino has to prove “she can make the weight,” 135 pounds.
“She’s not fighting the caliber of fighter Ronda’s fighting, and she’d have to fight at 135 pounds,” White said of Justino. “Ronda’s the champ. The champ doesn’t chase other people.”
White said Holm deserves the break of being affected by the “nervous energy” of her UFC debut.
“Let’s let her get a couple fights, let her feel like the UFC is her home, move up the rankings,” White said. “She’s got some time.”
Holm wasn’t pushing it, merely congratulating an “impressive” Rousey.
Zingano said she was left “stunned and speechless.
“Some things in life, you don’t get on the first shot,” she said. “I got caught, and that [stinks].”
Rousey said she has plans to be in a movie before she returns to the UFC.
In typical L.A. fashion, she told someone asking when she’ll fight again that she’d get back to him.