Under The Bleachers: The Baddest Woman On The Planet

Above: Undefeated UFC women’s bantamweight champion Ronda Rousey (Photo Credit: Esther Lin/MMA Fighting)

Ronda Rousey is the person responsible for convincing UFC President Dana White that having women compete in the Octagon wouldn’t be such a bad idea after all.

It has been less than three years since White presented Rousey with a UFC championship belt at a press conference in Seattle, recognizing her as the first female signed to the UFC and announcing that her initial fight against Liz Carmouche – the first female fight in UFC history – would headline UFC 157 at the Staples Center in Los Angeles. Saturday in Melbourne, Australia, Rousey looks for her seventh successful UFC title defense when she takes on unbeaten challenger and former world champion boxer Holly Holm in the main event of UFC 193 at Etihad Stadium.

Not only is this going to be one of the largest events in UFC history, with the potential of eclipsing the attendance record set at the Rogers Centre in Toronto for UFC 129 (55,000+), but it could very well be the first event since Brock Lesnar returned from an extended hiatus caused by medical issues to battle Shane Carwin at UFC 116 in July 2010 generated 1.16 million pay-per-view buys.

Rousey is almost single-handedly responsible for both of those marks being in jeopardy which tells you how big of a star the fighter Sports Illustrated dubbed “The Most Dominant Athlete on the Planet” earlier this year has become and what a good decision bringing the Olympic bronze medalist into the fold was three years ago.

That being said, projecting Rousey to reach this level of stardom and mainstream crossover appeal during her one-year ascension from newcomer to champion under the Strikeforce banner was impossible. She seemed destined to be a star in mixed martial arts with her combination of legitimate world-class skill in the cage, made-for-media personality and undeniable good looks, but there have been numerous MMA fighters that were big in the sport that never became known to a large portion of the sporting audience that aren’t concerned with what transpires inside the MMA bubble.

But thanks to a couple minor roles in a couple major Hollywood productions, a public back-and-forth with Floyd Mayweather and several other high-profile opportunities – not to mention a ridiculously impressive run of four wins in 130 seconds combined in the Octagon – Rousey has absolutely blown up. She announced that she would be fighting Holm on Good Morning America, is a regular on Kimmel and Fallon and premiered the trailer for this weekend’s pay-per-view event on Ellen:

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Rousey is undeniably the biggest star in the UFC (sorry Conor McGregor) and one of the biggest sports stars in the world. Not female sports stars – sports stars, period, full stop. She’s the baddest woman on the planet and a joy to watch compete, even if you’re not a big fan of mixed martial arts.

And if you’re wondering whether this weekend’s event is worth your time and/or money, take it from me, someone who covers the sport for a living (in addition to doing the fine work I do here): you’ll get your money’s worth.

You always do with Rousey, even when her fight only lasts 16 seconds.  

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