After plenty of speculation and unconfirmed reports over the past weeks, it became official Friday that the meteoric rise of mixed-martial-arts superstar Ronda Rousey will now be a historic one.
“It’s official,” Ultimate Fighting Championship President Dana White told Jim Rome on “The Jim Rome Show,” “Ronda Rousey did sign with the UFC.”
The news was originally reported by TMZ on Nov. 8, but Rousey was tight-lipped about the unconfirmed news. After White confirmed it Friday, the undefeated Strikeforce bantamweight (135 pounds) champion chimed in on Twitter.
“Okay I admit it...I’m officially a @ufc fighter,” Rousey tweeted. “SO excited! Can’t wait to debut! Let @danawhite know who you want my 1st opponent to be!”
Thus, Rousey, 25, has become the first female fighter to sign with the UFC, the world’s preeminent MMA organization.
Rousey, who trains at the Glendale Fighting Club under the tutelage of Edmond Tarverdyan along with at Team Hayastan under Gokor Chivitchyan and Gene LeBell, has risen through the ranks to become the top-ranked women’s fighter by most accounts and has quickly blossomed into one of the top MMA stars, no matter gender, in the world.
“She has the whole package,” White told Rome. “I've never been interested in women's MMA. First there weren't enough girls to create an entire women's division. When I talk about a superstar or standout, people talk about Gina Carano and talk about all these others. I'm telling you: This girl, she's nasty. She might be beautiful on the outside, she's a Diaz brother on the inside. She's a real fighter and she's very talented. She has the credentials, the pedigree, everything. And she has the 'it' factor. I think she's going to be a big superstar.”
White was referring to brothers Nate and Nick Diaz, both top-ranked fighters known for their bad-boy images and exciting fighting style. Both have also trained with Rousey, who’s won over fans inside the fight business and in the seats for myriad reasons.
Her sex appeal has helped to garner agazine covers, including the latest ESPN The Magazine “Body Issue.” Her sharp tongue, quick wit and overall gift of gab has made her a favorite for sound bytes and an ambassador for the sport. And of course there’s her ability in the cage.
The first American to medal in judo in the Olympics —she took bronze in 2008 — Rousey ripped through amateur MMA competition submitting three opponents, all via armbar and all inside the first minute.
When Rousey turned pro, her path of destruction continued, as her 6-0 record has seen her win every fight with her patented armbar and every win has come inside the first round with only one extending past a minute. That fight came in a much-hyped showdown with Miesha Tate for the Strikeforce title, which she won in only her fifth professional fight.
Strikeforce, the UFC’s sibling company, has canceled its last two events, but is scheduled to have a card featuring myriad champions in January. It has been rumored, but not confirmed that the January card will be the promotion’s last. Rousey’s official signing seems to point to the demise of the promotion as she was one of, if not, the biggest name in the promotion.