Former UFC champion Ronda Rousey announced a career turn to WWE on Sunday night, appearing at the Royal Rumble in Philadelphia and expressing interest in an extended run with the professional wrestling company.
“This is my life now. Yeah, they have first priority on my time for the next several years,” she told ESPN. “This is not a smash and grab, this is not a publicity stunt.”
Rousey, a longtime pro wrestling fan whose nickname was borrowed from “Rowdy” Roddy Piper, was the first American woman to medal in judo at the 2008 Olympics. She applied her skills to mixed martial arts and won her first 12 fights while becoming the first women’s champion in the UFC and a superstar among athletes.
But Rousey was barely heard from after losing her belt to Holly Holm in 2015, then getting dominated by current champion Amanda Nunes in just 48 seconds in her December 2016 return.
Her move to wrestling full-time followed a foray into film and television for the past few years, and a performance at Wrestle Mania 31 in 2015.
Her shift to WWE was first reported by USA Today.