Ronda Rousey’s much-deserved addition to the UFC Hall of Fame closes a major chapter in UFC history, but also underlines the fact that ‘Rowdy’ is gone for good.
MMA history books seem to be revised by the month. In a sport that moves at breakneck speed both in and out of the cage, that’s to be expected. So when the UFC announced during UFC 225 over the weekend that former women’s bantamweight champion Ronda Rousey would be inducted into the UFC Hall of Fame, it was fitting. No one was surprised that she was being included — she was a lock from the second she convinced Dana White to allow women to fight in the UFC. The only surprise was the quick turnaround, but considering how hot Rousey is in the pro wrestling world right now, you can’t blame Endeavor for striking while the iron is hot.
Congratulation Ronda Rousey! Well Deserved. pic.twitter.com/tEF875jVCP
— FOX Sports: UFC (@UFCONFOX) June 10, 2018
In honoring Rousey, the UFC’s first female fighter (signed on before all others), first champion, longest serving champion, and one of the biggest draws in company history, the UFC is also closing an important chapter in its history. Rousey’s start in MMA was such that she was a ready-made star: an Olympic medalist with good looks, a fiery personality, and an undefeated record. When she tore through the competition in Stikeforce, landing arm-bar after arm-bar, stardom was almost a given, but no one realized the heights she would eventually achieve. The real tipping point was her first fight against Miesha Tate, in that Scott Coker-led promotion. Watching Tate struggle through the pain of the arm-bar, herself a gutsy fighter and future UFC champion, you knew Rousey was something special.
Her ability to win over Dana White opened the door for women in the UFC, after the promotion president infamously said “never” when it came to females fighting in the octagon. Many fans revel any time White is served a helping of humble pie, but in this particular case, never was it more fortuitous for White to have been dead wrong. Not only did Ronda Rousey become one of the UFC’s biggest stars (easily in the top five along with Conor McGregor, Georges St. Pierre, Brock Lesnar, and Anderson Silva), but the women’s divisions, initially only bantamweight, would go on to produce some incredible action. And compete at a level on par with the men as far as fan interest and competitiveness. In almost no other sport has that parity occurred, with the exception, perhaps, of professional tennis.
Perhaps missed in all the celebration, however, will be the fact that this honor likely means Rousey is in fact done with professional fighting. Despite jumping over to the WWE recently, Rousey was careful never to use the word “retired” — and as MMA fans are well aware, fighters come out of retirement all the time. Even Hall of Fame members like Royce Gracie and B.J Penn have returned to fight another day.
Yet one would imagine that in this case, things are a little more permanent. Rousey is a proud athlete who did not handle losing well. Risking her legacy in a tepid comeback attempt several years down the road doesn’t fit her character. The WWE is her future, the UFC her past. The Rousey Era, which paved the way for women in the UFC, is officially over. In all reality, it was over at UFC 207. Now it’s time to celebrate her accomplishments.