"She's destined to be a champion — that's her destiny."
— Darin Harvey on Ronda Rousey, who he manages.
A whirlwind of judo throws, gruesome grappling and cringe-inducing arm bars, Ronda Rousey has done in mere seconds of violent brilliance what others have gone an entire career without accomplishing.
An Olympic Bronze-medaled beauty, she offers up a total package brimming over with physical skills, intangibles and a sharp tongue rivaled only by her skillset.
It will be 24 days shy of a year — to be exact — for Rousey as a professional mixed-martial-arts fighter when she squares off with Miesha "Takedown" Tate on March 3 in Columbus, Ohio at Strikeforce: Tate vs. Rousey for the promotion's women's bantamweight title. And it will be, arguably, the second biggest women's fight on North American soil in the history of MMA.
And, for the 24-year-old former two-time Olympian, everything's seemingly going exactly as planned, as she's been bestowed exactly what's she's wanted. A lightning rod for controversy, fan appeal and always-entertaining quotes, Rousey has used her aforementioned total package — her quick wit, good looks, charming smile and, of course, dominance in the cage — to seize a title shot when there are many — in particular, Tate — who don't believe she deserves one.
None of that's right, though. Rousey's earned a championship bout that she deserves, because she earned it the old-fashioned way — she took it.
Rousey, who trains under Edmond Tarverdyan at the Glendale Fighting Club along with other Southern California locales, has ripped through four professional opponents — and three more on the amateur circuit — at a pace so torrid and impressive that she's forced promoters, fans and pundits to take notice.
In four pro fights, she's taken just 138 seconds to arm bar four opponents into submission and grab enough attention to garner a title shot.
Of course, the title shot hasn't come without controversy and likely hasn't come strictly on the merits of the path of destruction she's laid forth in the cage.
Tate has been quite vocal in her disagreement with Rousey getting a title shot.
A favorite with male MMA fans for aesthetic reasons as much as her athletic endeavors much like Rousey, Tate has objected to Rousey having "earned" a title shot, citing the latter's gift of gab and promotion of beauty and brawn over brawn and only brawn as crucial factors in her getting her golden opportunity. Then there's the fact that Rousey is actually dropping down to the 135-pound bantamweight class after fighting solely as a featherweight at 145. There's been others, of course, who have objected to Rousey's contendership — notably Sarah Kaufman, who is the former bantamweight champion and happens to hold a victory over Tate.
The arguments against Rousey are that she shouldn't simply get to the head of the line because she's got a big name, big hype, a pretty smile and some clever retorts. They're right. But that's not the entirety of the situation. Rousey has and is all of those things, but she's been about as dominating and impressive in her meteoric professional career as humanly possible.
Fact of the matter is, it's not a scenario novel to MMA. The original "Next Big Thing," Brock Lesnar, owned a 1-1 mark in the Ultimate Fighting Championship and a 2-1 overall MMA record when he fought for the UFC heavyweight crown against Randy Couture — who was defending a championship he won after he was bestowed a title bout after a near year-long retirement that followed a knockout loss in the light-heavyweight division to then-champion Chuck Liddell.
Most recently, Strikeforce middleweight champion Luke Rockhold defended his title with a successful throttling of Keith Jardine, who was not only fighting at middleweight for the first time, but he was coming off a draw against Gegard Mousasi — a bout Jardine lost had it not been for a controversial point deduction.
This scenario is nothing new, but Rousey is.
As much as anything else, Rousey possesses that "it factor" that is near-impossible to describe in words and has become borderline cliche in using and very much over used in describing the ascent of many. Not for her, though. Detractors will question her striking game, though she's never had to use it all that much and Tarverdyan is quick to tell you it is growing leaps and bounds. Others question the amount of time she's actually fought in the cage — you know, because destroying your competition is a bad thing.
Sure, Rousey is pomp and circumstance, but she's also plenty of substance. And when you can fight the fight, that's one thing. But when you're drawing attention because you're not afraid to say what's on your mind and you're sounding and looking good when you say it, well, that's gonna put butts in the seats and eyes on the screen. Plain and simple.
And right now, that's what women's MMA needs. And that's what Strikeforce needs. With much of its top-ranked talent — albeit there's notable exceptions like lightweight Gilbert Melendez and Mousasi — having gone to the UFC, its sibling company, before resigning with Showtime and vowing to keep the promotion going as a top-tier company, Strikeforce needs to build superstars. And with the sports of women's MMA's two brightest stars — Gina Carano (filming movies and uncertain if she'll fight again) and Cris Cyborg (suspended for a year due to performance-enhancing drugs) — not fighting any time soon, there is even more reason as to why Rousey needed her shot.
She has infused life, created hype and started a buzz. Whether Tate or Kaufman, or the latter's March 3 opponent Alexis Davis, like it, people are talking about them and listening to them because Rousey has made noise.
It's hard not to like Tate. She's a hard-working, good-looking, relatively soft-spoken 25-year-old who has built a 12-2 record and won a championship.
But it's impossible not to watch Rousey — whether it's in the cage applying a savage arm bar that you just can't look away from or outside of the cage flashing a winning a smile you just can't keep your eyes off.
There is something admirable about someone who bides their time, works hard and lets their work, and only their body of work, do their talking. But there is something so very commendable about those special few who go out and seize their chances, who take their time to shine.
"Rowdy" Ronda, the "Arm Collector," has been captivating and controversial, devastating and debonair, crass and clever, honest and unbeatable. Only thing she really isn't yet, is a champion. And that will change on March 3.
Not long before her Strikeforce debut in August of 2011 in an interview with the News-Press, Rousey recalled a prediction her late father made.
"He's the one that told me I'd win a gold medal and be the best in the world someday," she said. "And when you're 8 years old, your dad's right about everything."
So far, Ronda's been right about every move she's made in MMA. And Strikeforce made the right move in allowing her to take her shot.
That's just the way I see it, playing second string.Copyright © 2015, Los Angeles Times