Ronda Rousey hasn't even fought in the UFC yet and she's already wearing a UFC championship belt as the first ever women's Bantamweight champion. She'll make her debut at the top of the card at UFC 157 on February 23, 2013 at the Honda Center in Anaheim, California against Liz Carmouche.
Rousey's been an unabashed publicity seeker who's willing to play off her sex appeal and the novelty of women's mixed martial arts to get attention. She's been very very successful. This week she told the Orange County Register that her first target was UFC president Dana White who'd been an outspoken naysayer about women's MMA:"
"(Winning over White) was a goal of mine from the very beginning actually. I just refused to be ignored pretty much. I said to myself, ‘What would work?' I just thought, ‘I'm going to make myself so impossible to ignore and make myself into something that they didn't even know that they needed.'
"Before I became a pro I was saying that, so when I was training for my pro debut at King of the Cage is when I first said it on camera. I said, ‘This guy (Dana White) is going to love me and there's nothing he can do about it.' I was so sure. You know, I never doubted it."
There's no shame in Dana's game either:
"Everybody was saying, ‘Oh, he's bringing her in because he has a crush on her and she's so hot and this and that,'" White said. "You know, Gina Carano is hot too and you didn't see me trying to get into women's MMA with them. The difference between her and any other female fighter I've met is she's cute and she's out here interacting, but when she goes and fights she's mean, she's nasty and she likes to finish people. And that's what I like in a fighter whether you are a man or a woman.
"What I always said is the women's divisions aren't deep enough. There's not a deep enough talent pool to start bringing in all these weight divisions and get women into MMA. Well, the way that I look at this - I had this conversation a couple of weeks ago when the media was saying to me, ‘It sounds like this is the Ronda Rousey show.' I said, ‘You're (darn) right it is.' I started watching her fights. I started watching her interviews. I met her one day at one of the fights and we talked and, obviously, I think that she can do it. It takes a certain type of person, not just personality, but a certain type of fighter to get people interested and to get people excited about women's fighting, period. I think she's got it."
MMA analyst Zach Arnold breaks down the case for what Rousey and the UFC are doing at Fight Opinion:
Dana White sees Ronda Rousey as his vehicle to reach the masses who only care about Entertainment Tonight, Extra, The Insider, Access Hollywood, Inside Edition, and random Youtube video clips where Rousey can make remarks about sex & testosterone and know that a billion people are going to talk about her comments. Rousey is completely shameless in the way she attracts what political pundits call ‘low information voters' and she's proud of it.
Appealing to the masses on a sleazy level works. It's why Vince McMahon is still in business and it's why Chael Sonnen still has PPV appeal.
Rousey is clearly a savvy player at the PR game and she's convinced Dana White and the UFC brass to take a flyer on her and women's MMA.