Is Ronda Rousey Already the New Face of Women’s MMA?

January 24, 2012

The face of women’s MMA.

It’s a title that was given to former EliteXC and Strikeforce fighter Gina Carano early in her career, and while she never fully embraced the role, it was something she’s held onto for the past several years.

Now Carano is starring in films, rumored to be doing several other projects, and while MMA will always be a part of her life, the likelihood of her returning to fighting seems to dim with each passing day.

Former Strikeforce women’s featherweight champion and previously ranked No. 1 pound-for-pound fighter Cris “Cyborg” Santos recently tested positive for steroids and is awaiting an appeal for her one-year suspension from the sport.

That leaves the slot wide open for a new face for the women’s division. Former Olympian and current Strikeforce bantamweight title contender Ronda Rousey may be just the person for the job.

A charismatic speaker who never shies away from a tough subject, Rousey has embraced the publicity that goes along with the attention of being a high profile woman in MMA. While she still believes Carano’s influence is felt in the sport, she’s happy to embrace the role as “the face of women’s MMA” if that’s what the fans and media call her.

She also believes her past as an Olympian helped her learn at an early age how to handle not only the pressure of competition, but the pressure of media, interviews, and everything else that goes along with being a world class athlete competing on the biggest stage.

“I still think that Gina’s carrying a role in that she’s the one doing the multi-million dollar movies, with very reputable directors and actors, and getting people that don’t know anything about MMA to learn something about it or know that it even exists, and in that way I think she’s making more people aware of women’s MMA and she’s still the face of it in that it’s her face they associate with the sport,” Rousey told MMAWeekly Radio recently.

“Within the girls competing, I think that I would be very good at filling that role. I think that I have the most experience of dealing with that amount of pressure. What you were saying about individual sports, it’s hard representing yourself because you take all of the responsibility on you. It’s not like you have a team to fall back on, and if you lose, oh you win as a team, you lose as a team.”

Her success at the Olympic level gives Rousey a different perspective on what it means to have the weight of the world on your shoulders, and of all the women out there fighting today, she’s happy to accept the pressure of being the face of the sport.

“You have to take care of so much by yourself and you have to deal with so much pressure that I’d be able to deal with that better than anyone else I could think of,” Rousey stated.

While Rousey’s real test will come on March 3 in Ohio when she faces Strikeforce bantamweight champion Miesha Tate, the pressure to help sell the fight and promote it will fall just as much on Rousey’s shoulders as the champion.

Rousey was vocal about landing the fight with Tate, and she’s never backed down when asked questions about other competitors like Carano or Cris Cyborg. Her manager doesn’t believe the crown should be passed down to Rousey.

He believes she’s already wearing it.

“I think she’s accomplished the impossible in a short amount of time. Within a year’s time, she has seven fights, three amateur, four professional, all in under four minutes combined. She looks great, she has a beautiful smile, her eyes sparkle, she’s very articulate, she’s witty, she’s highly confident and accomplished. I’m starting to sound like Don King with all these words, but I’m very passionate about it,” said Rousey’s manager Darin Harvey told MMAWeekly Radio.

“Yeah, I think she is (the face of women’s MMA). She’s a real crossover type of person, which I think they see the value in that. A girl like Ronda could potentially bring that on the fence MMA fan to being a full MMA fan. If they’re on the fence about women’s MMA, 100-percent they’ll be into women’s MMA once they see Ronda fight.”

The crossover appeal will definitely be tested over the next six weeks as she promotes and builds the fight with Tate for Strikeforce.

One thing is for sure, if it’s meant to be, Ronda Rousey will embrace being the face of women’s MMA.

Follow @DamonMartin on Twitter or e-mail Damon Martin.
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