November 13, 2015 / By Sean Donnelly
It’s hard to imagine that Ronda Rousey has any down time. Along with being the most dominant athlete in her sport’s existence, she’s balancing a multitude of other projects that are further solidifying her spot as a sports icon. It’s easy to forget she began her journey in the UFC less than three years ago.
Quite frankly, there has never been an athlete quite like Rousey.
“Rowdy” Ronda Rousey’s ascension came at a time when the sport needed it the most. Georges St. Pierre, the Welterweight Champion and top fighter at the time, retired after his fight in UFC 167. Rousey made her debut at UFC 168, where she defeated Miesha Tate to defend her title – the same event where Anderson Silva gruesomely broke his fibula and tibia during his match. Within a month’s time, the UFC had lost its two biggest stars, St. Pierre and Silva, and the future of the sport was unknown.
In comes Rousey, who, after a brief post-Olympic retirement, launched her MMA career at the age of 22.
Fast forward to 2015. The UFC has come a long way since the emergence of Rousey. Dana White, President of the UFC, once said that we would never see women in the sport. His tone has since shifted, saying, “she’s the greatest athlete I’ve ever worked with. With her, it’s like the Tyson era, like, how fast is she going to destroy somebody, and in what manner? Ronda’s one in a million.”
Photo Credit: SportsTechie
Not even three years into her UFC career, Rousey has made high-profile cameos in a number of blockbuster films, will be starring in a reboot of Road House and star alongside Mark Wahlberg in Mile 22. Soon after, she’ll be starring in a biopic based off her best-selling memoir, “My Fight / Your Fight,” and has also insinuated she might work more with the WWE one day.
Brands are also getting in on the action. At the end of 2014, Rousey announced that she signed a sponsorship with Reebok. Struggling to find its footing amidst competitors, Reebok found an athlete that will help further their brand identity.
Photo Credit: Breaking Down How Much Ronda Rousey Gets Paid
Rousey has also secured deals with Metro PCS, Buffalo Apparel and Carl’s Jr. Just this Thursday morning, she inked a marketing deal with Monster Energy. According to PwC’s Sports Outlook, the North American sports market is expected to grow to over $70 billion by 2018. Additionally, Rousey is one of a few athletes leading the pack in #Femvertising.
But what attracts brands to Rousey? Her polarity – she can appear on Ellen one day and destroy her opponent the next – makes her all the more intriguing. Rousey has opened the eyes of brands everywhere that consumers look for stories to make a human connection. People want authenticity and Rousey is as authentic as it gets.
Rousey’s most recent bout was at UFC 190 when she knocked out Bethe Correia. According to MMA Payout Blue Book, the fight sold 900,000 PPV buys, which was the best-selling fight of the year. The last UFC main event to draw those numbers? That would belong to UFC 168, when Weidman Vs Silva was the main event and Ronda Rousey made her official UFC debut.
On Saturday, Rousey will put her Bantamweight Champion title on the line to face off against Holly Holm. Rousey is the overwhelming favorite to retain her title. As the UFC’s highest paid fighter, she’s expected to bring a large audience of admirers to watch her fight. She is a transformative figure, bridging the gap between diehard UFC fans who love her as a fighter, and non-UFC fans who will watch because they love her as a woman.
Rousey is truly one of a kind.