Ho-hum. Another fight for UFC women’s bantamweight champion Ronda Rousey, and another complete and utter domination of an overmatched opponent. This time, it took Rousey 34 seconds to dispatch Bethe Correia at UFC 190. That’s a longer fight duration than her last two fights combined.
Geez, what took her so long?
Each time Rousey demolishes an opponent, it seems her star shines that much brighter. Following her previous victory over Cat Zingano, Sports Illustrated named her the World’s Most Dominant Athlete. After her victory over Correia, Rousey was everywhere. Literally, everywhere. ESPN. The Washington Post. CNN. Entertainment Weekly.
There wasn’t a lot of enthusiasm surrounding UFC 190 leading up to the event, aside from Rousey’s title defense. However, the pay-per-view buys for the event are trending higher than last month’s UFC 189, the event that featured a promotional “World Tour” with featherweight champion Jose Aldo and rising star Conor McGregor, before Aldo had to withdraw from the fight due to injury.
Rousey is far and away the biggest star in all of mixed martial arts right now, and it’s not even close. So why do I have this nagging suspicion that it may not be long before her bright flame burns out?
That suspicion has nothing to do with Rousey’s abilities as a fighter. Well, in a way it does. She is supremely talented and motivated, gets better with each fight and has an insatiable drive to be nothing but the absolute best. Those are the hallmark traits of a champion. So is dominance over opponents. Therein lies the fear I have with Rousey.
She has mowed through all of her opponents so far, often finishing them before you even have a chance to take a sip of your beer, let alone finish it. While that type of utter domination is to be admired, it can also become a cause for concern. What if pay-per-views headlined by Rousey experience a dip in buys? What if fans decide that Rousey will win regardless and choose to save themselves 60 bucks?
Besides quick victories, Rousey’s dominance also means no one is going to dethrone her as champion. She has to run out of opponents eventually. Her next fight will be against Miesha Tate. This will be the third time those two will square off, and it shouldn’t end differently than the previous two times they’ve faced each other.
Beyond that, who is left at women’s bantamweight? Holly Holm? Some have argued that she is the one to possibly dethrone Rousey. While there may be some compelling arguments to the point, I remain skeptical. If Rousey defeats Tate for a third time, I think she has effectively cleaned out her division.
If Rousey decided to take a prolonged break or permanently retire from the Octagon to continue her burgeoning film career, it would create fresh and new match-ups for the women’s bantamweight title at the very least. Plus, Rousey can trade on her MMA fame, a la Gina Carano, for a more lucrative next career in Hollywood.
Ultimately, do I honestly believe that Rousey retiring would be the best thing for the UFC? No, not really. She is the company’s biggest star by a wide margin. McGregor comes close, but UFC 190 catapulted Rousey to another level not thought possible. The more attention she brings to the UFC, and to MMA in general, the better. Furthermore, she can serve as an eloquent and intelligent spokeswoman for a brutal sport.
However, it’s still worth wondering if her unparalleled dominance is both a blessing and curse. Then again, people paid nearly $100 to watch Floyd Mayweather dance around Manny Pacquiao for 12 rounds. If you paid for that, then paying $60 to watch Rousey smash someone in 30 seconds seems like a bargain.