I was lucky enough to get 30 minutes with the legendary Jim Ross, and I can easily say this will be one of my favorite interviews I have ever conducted. While the main topic of our conversation was pro wrestling - specifically his arrival as new commentator alongside Josh Barnett on "New Japan Pro Wrestling on AXS TV" premiering March 4th at 9 PM EST - I was able to sneak in an MMA question when the opportunity arose.
Ross, who is an owner of the FITE TV app (which we discuss at the start of the clip), had some comments about Ronda Rousey, specifically whether or not she is still an interesting story line to MMA fans, as well as mainstream media, without an undefeated streak or a championship belt after Holly Holm violently took it from her, and whether or not she will be the face of women's MMA again.
"I think that Ronda's future is very bright still, without question" Ross responded. "If for some reason her popularity wanes, then it seems to me it may be because of how she is presented. I don't think the UFC, which has not made a habit of making bad mistakes when it comes to building their stars, will replicate any kind of undesirable history."
"She is a major star. She's on the cover of Sports Illustrated, she gets the mainstream publicity, and she's got another eagerly anticipated movie," he said. "I think the one loss is a scenario where it just goes to show you that in the sport of MMA, no one is untouchable, no one is unbeatable... as long as they are wearing four ounce gloves."
"We like to give people a second chance. Ronda did not do anything wrong to be forgiven for but her fan base is sure disappointed... and I think she is going to be fine and I think she is still a major player."
For those interested, here are the other segments from my interview with JR, where we talk much more about his new role back in the commentary seat with New Japan Pro Wrestling and AXS TV.
In this part, Ross talks to us about coming out of retirement to do commentary once more and why NJPW was a perfect fit for him, his chemistry and relationship with Josh Barnett, how he educated himself on the rich history of New Japan, and what matches we can look forward to hearing this team call.
Continuing our discussion here in this part, Ross talks about who some of his favorite wrestlers to watch in NJPW are, and also discusses how he would book the recent NJPW departees (AJ Styles, Shinsuke Nakamura, Luke Gallows and Karl Anderson) in WWE to make them effective and interesting.
And finally, my personal favorite section, where JR explains the art of selling in pro wrestling, including the difference between how a babyface should sell as opposed to a heel. We also hear about some ribs in pro wrestling, as in pranks, not babyback ribs slathered in JR's BBQ sauce.
Jim Ross debuts as commentator this Friday, March 4th at 9 PM EST, with "New Japan Pro Wrestling on AXS TV", which is headlined by Shinsuke Nakamura taking on Hirokii Goto for the IWGP Intercontinental title. For MMA fans that do not like WWE-style wrestling, I guarantee you will prefer the strong style of NJPW once you give it a chance.