“Don’t it always seem to go, that you don’t know what you’ve got ‘til it’s gone.”
Joni Mitchell shared that pearl of wisdom in her 1970 song, “Big Yellow Taxi.” Basically, it means that many people don’t appreciate something special in their lives until they don’t have it anymore. For mixed martial arts fans, that could be UFC women’s bantamweight champion Ronda Rousey.
A byproduct of Rousey’s astonishing success since officially becoming a UFC fighter in 2013 is the plethora of other opportunities she is afforded. Notably, acting roles in films like The Expendables 3, Furious 7 and Entourage. She’s also attached to other film projects such as an action movie, Mile 22, directed by Peter Berg (he of the well-received Hancock and the not-so-well-received Battleship) and even a rumored autobiographical film about Rousey herself.
She was also recently cast to play the role made famous by Patrick Swayze in a remake of the 1989 film Road House. The merits of Hollywood remaking yet another film instead of creating an original one aside, having a female UFC fighter play a role long held up as an example of male machismo represents a noteworthy step forward for not only Rousey, but women as a whole.
Rousey herself recently said on Joe Rogan’s podcast that she doesn’t want to keep fighting once she officially enters her thirties. She is currently 28, so UFC fans might as well enjoy her while she’s still around. After she faces (and presumably rather easily defeats) Holly Holm at UFC 193 in November, the pool of contenders for Rousey’s belt continues to dry up faster than a California reservoir in July.
However, Rousey also insinuated on Rogan’s podcast that her career wouldn’t feel officially complete until she faces Cristiane “Cyborg” Justino, who’s currently embarking on a weight cut to 140 pounds in hopes of finally being able to complete against her longtime rival.
Assuming the talked-about-way-too-much fight between Rousey and Cyborg finally happens a year or two from now — when Rousey is just approaching 30 — and she comes up short, what then? Would she continue fighting into her thirties to avenge her loss? Or would she decide that making more money in Furious 15: Minivan Wars is a more prudent career path?
Knowing the fierce competitor Rousey is, I’m sure she would stick around for a probable rematch with Cyborg, should she come up short the first time. But as her fellow (interim) UFC champion, Conor McGregor, put it: “Get in. Get rich. Get out.”
Rousey has the benefit of picking and choosing her film roles around her fighting career, and also has the wisdom to choose projects with established Hollywood stars that are guaranteed to make money at the box office. She thankfully doesn’t follow the path of Hulk Hogan, who never met a straight-to-video film he didn’t love.
When it comes to traveling to exotic locales to create a feature film versus sweating away in a gym twice a day, seven days a week, to cut weight and prepare for a fight, I know which path I would choose. Rousey is as competitive as they come, but the day will arrive when she has nothing left to prove and wants to try something new.