Ronda Rousey has broken one of the cardinal rules of fight promotion in the lead-up to her fight tomorrow evening with Sarah Kaufman at Strikeforce: Rousey vs. Kaufman. In the last few days, Rousey has repeatedly invoked the idea of "killing" her opponent in the cage.
It started at the Q&A with the Strikeforce women's champion when she said "I like Sarah Kaufman, but that has nothing to do with whether or not I'm going to try to kill her on Saturday" which could be taken in the "sporting context" of "man, the Bills killed the Broncos last season!"
But Rousey went even more off the rails at the presser (Via MMA Junkie):
"If I get her in an armbar, I'm going to try to rip it off and throw it at her corner...If I get her in a choke, I'm going to hold onto it until she's actually dead. And if I get a knockout, I'm going to go all the way. I'm going to try to pound her face into the ground and she's depending on the competence of the California (State) Athletic Commission to walk out of that cage alive."
All this raises the question: why is Ronda Rousey getting off light where others before have not?
But that was nothing compared to what happened when Frank Mir told a radio station "I want to fight Lesnar. I hate who he is as a person. I want to break his neck in the ring. I want him to be the first person that dies due to Octagon-related injuries. That's what's going through my mind."
The Mir comments were far enough over the line that the UFC had him actually issue an apology while Dana White expressed "disappointment" in Frank's behavior.
The fact that these comments also come days after an MMA death in South Carolina. We've seen other deaths in MMA this year as well. Even if Tyrone Mims' death wasn't likely due to injuries sustained in the fight, it's a reminder of the risks involved with any professional fighting contest.
I'm not saying I think Ronda would actually follow through with the idea of trying to choke an opponent until she dies or that she wouldn't stop pounding away after knocking her out. And I'm quite certain she won't be ripping an arm off and throwing it at anyone.
I'm fully aware that these are attempts to hype up the fight. But there is a line that shouldn't be crossed for the sake of promoting a fight, and no one seems to care that Rousey crossed that line when it has been a big story any other time it has happened.
Beyond the fact that death remains a possibility in any fight is the PR nightmare if something happens in the near future. God forbid someone dies in a fight on a big stage, do you think the comments of a women's MMA superstar, recently featured in ESPN The Magazine, one of the faces of the sport of mixed martial arts won't be dragged out into the public square when the safety debate rages.
The idea of death in the cage isn't a promotional tool, and someone at Zuffa needs to pull Ronda aside and remind her of that.