Ronda Rousey: Champion We Want, Hero We Don’t Need

The first blow came from a vicious right hook that belonged to the former boxing and kickboxing world champion and current UFC bantamweight champion, Holly Holm.  Rousey admitted that the first shot that connected on her movie star face immediately opened up a cut inside of her mouth.  The physical toll was an unfamiliar feeling for the former champion who managed to finish eight of her twelve victories in under a minute. 

The other four wins? Three of them ended in less than one round, while her rival Miesha Tate was able to avoid Rousey’s signature armbar until 58 seconds into the third round.  Rousey wasn’t just outclassing the competition, she was collecting endorsement deals with Metro PCS, sharing screen time with the likes of Vin Diesel and Arnold Schwarzenegger, along with becoming the UFC’s biggest pay­per­view star. As great as it sounds on paper, Rousey is always and will continue to be a polarizing figure. 

Her recent appearance on “The Ellen DeGeneres Show” appears to have loaded her detractors with more ammo, which seems to outweigh the empathy from her supporters thus far. Rousey admitted to millions of viewers around the country that thoughts of suicide filled her head on the night she tasted her first defeat in mixed martial arts. It’s important to know that Rousey’s father, Ron Rousey, took his own life when Ronda was just eight years old. Rousey quickly countered the suicidal thoughts upon seeing her boyfriend and fellow UFC fighter, Travis Browne. 

“I was literally sitting there thinking about killing myself… I saw my man, Travis and I just looked up at him and I was just like I need to have his babies. I need to stay alive,” Ronda told Ellen. Her tearful comments were met with applause from the studio audience, but some have criticized her for not being a positive role model by implying

that in order to continue living she needed to have her man’s children. 

It sounds silly, but Rousey is no stranger to creating controversy with her comments. Rousey has admitted to being used to the role of the villain during her days as a judo practitioner and has even embraced the role. She took a shot at longtime UFC ring girl Arianny Celeste back in 2012 when she said, “It’s your job to show your t*ts ­ I do that better than you.”  Rousey has also verbally condemned Floyd Mayweather for his history of domestic abuse. Her boyfriend, Travis Browne, has been accused of domestic abuse by his ex­wife in the past, which probably didn’t help Rousey gain any new fans. 

It’s fair to say that Rousey had her fair share of humble pie in the form of her loss back in November, and it’s also fair to say that we should stop trying to hold athletes to such ridiculous standards. Rousey is a pioneer in women’s MMA, but that doesn’t mean she needs to be a role model for young girls around the world. From a feminism­marketing standpoint, Rousey is a goldmine, but it’s important that we separate entertainment figures from the role models in our lives. Rousey is not perfect and is bound to contradict herself again, but the reason for her fame lies within her success as a mixed martial artist

and not as a humanitarian. 

Somewhere along the line, the focus shifted from Rousey’s incredible work ethic to whether or not she should’ve accepted Miesha Tate’s handshake after handing Tate a second loss.  Part of what makes Rousey successful is the anger she exudes as she makes her way from the locker room and into the octagon to do battle. Rather than highlight her faults, we should hope she finds a healthy way to cope with defeat so that we can continue to be entertained by her skill and athleticism.

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