"Most of all to my Dad, wherever you are, I hope that you see this, we all miss you, we love you and this is for you, I hope you're proud of me."
— Ronda Rousey after winning the Strikeforce title
Moments after the pinnacle achievement of her, albeit brief, but thus far spectacular mixed-martial-arts career, Ronda Rousey stood inside the Strikeforce cage seemingly composed, seemingly reserved and far from celebrating raucously like most would expect anybody would do after winning a world championship in just their fifth professional fight.
But there was Rousey, standing tall and stoic. And there was the former champion Miesha Tate, still on the ground, wearing an almost expressionless face when most grown men would have been reduced to tears after having their arm gruesomely twisted in the fashion that she endured before finally tapping out.
Having gained acclaim rapidly with her ferocious and fast finishes, her striking looks and her gift of gab, Rousey took 4 minutes and 27 seconds to defeat Tate in the same manner she'd laid her previous four opponents to waste, locking in a devastating armbar that was different only in this instance as it was a championship armbar.
But with Rousey, despite an Olympic pedigree and a Strikeforce title that now hangs large around her slender waist, the show and the entertainment doesn't start or stop with the fight itself.
And in her postfight interview, without hesitation she told viewers that she didn't feel remorse about the damage she had done to her opponent. Indeed, it had become personal after all the smack talk, Twitter wars and weigh-in dust-ups. But, perhaps for others, and at least one writer, it was what she said before that which resonated most.
Just 8 years old when her father died, Rousey never forgot that her dad told her one day she would win gold, that she would be a champion. Despite her ballyhooed former days as a two-time United States Olympian in judo and the fact that she was the first American woman to ever medal in the sport in the
But on this night in Columbus, Ohio, she took gold and she became the best in the world as the Strikeforce women's bantamweight champion.
As someone who lost their father less than two years ago, I can say without hesitation that her words struck a chord.
Oddly enough, I think about my dad often when I'm watching the fights. It's because he was the one who ordered the first
I'm certain he would have been rooting for Ronda Rousey, too. Just as I'm certain that, despite the myriad fans the 25 year old already has, there will be far more rooting for her in the very near future. And just as I'm certain that on the night of March 3, 2012, Ronda's late father, Ron would have been plenty proud of her.
If this was a movie, the championship triumph, the poignant words, it would have been the fitting, final scene, the storybook ending.
But this is just the very beginning.
In August of 2010, I received an email from Darin Harvey, who was Darabedyan's manager and had just taken on his newest fighter. Of this former Olympian named Ronda Rousey, he wrote: "I believe she has the potential to be the best in the world."
Obviously, he was quite right.
As she trains at the Glendale Fighting Club under the tutelage of Edmond Tarverdyan, you can see that her striking has come a long way. Her right looks strong, her footwork improved, her angles are far better. But of course there's plenty of improvement to make. She drops her left a bit too much and she clearly realizes there's a ways to go to become a complete fighter.
Nonetheless, she's already a champion and she's already the complete package when it comes to being a star.
She is a beautiful savage. She is an exciting fighter, who can talk the talk intelligently and eloquently and can walk the walk in destructive and dominating fashion.
And on the day of her biggest victory yet, she showed it all very quickly if you were watching closely.
She fought tenaciously and she won devastatingly, she spoke controversially and beautifully, just the same as she smiled. And, as is hard to find in today's world of sports, no matter if it's baseball or football or the burgeoning realm of women's MMA, she lived up to the expectations, she answered the hype. And she became the champion her father always knew she could be.