In the combat sports world, it can be a lonely place on top, especially if you’re a woman. Being a woman in combat sports, it’s difficult enough to get the big paydays, but getting the exposure to build up a strong fanbase can be a monumental task.
Enter Strikeforce bantamweight champion Ronda Rousey, who at just 5-0, has made a huge splash in the sport. Rousey’s outspoken nature on top of being a world-class athlete has stirred up the MMA community and now the fans are gradually paying more attention to female fighters.
Long a critic of female fighting, UFC president Dana White has even been singing a different tune of late due to the emergence of the former Judo Olympian.
“She’s a rock star,” White said. “She’s been fantastic. She’s been killing it for us. I just hope that we can get some really good fights for her.”
Despite Rousey being a team player, White feels like she is on top of a division without enough big fights before her to make her an international superstar. Although she has a fight with Sarah Kaufman on tap, the lack of big fights for Rousey at 135 has been troubling for Strikeforce matchmaker Sean Shelby.
Although White hopes for a different outcome, he feels like Rousey will inevitably be in a similar situation to the great, undefeated boxer Lucia Rijker. The Dutch boxer was the top female boxer in the world, but had even the best opponents backing out of big fights and making it troublesome for her to become an established superstar.
“Unfortunately I think (Rousey) is going to be the Lucia Rijker of MMA. For those of you that don’t know who Lucia Rijker was, she’s the female boxer that was really the best in the world. You heard of Christie Martin and Laila Ali and all these other people, they wouldn’t fight her. Nobody wanted to fight Lucia Rijker. She was sparring with guys. She was probably the best female boxer ever and nobody knows who the hell she is.”
Is Ronda Rousey headed for the same fate?