In Depth

Who is Ronda Rousey, 'badass feminist' and UFC superstar?

The former Olympic judo bronze medalist turned cage-fighter is now the biggest draw in the UFC

Mixed martial artist Ronda Rousey took yet another Ultimate Fighting Championship scalp this weekend as she destroyed her Brazilian opponent Bethe Correia in just 34 seconds.

The beating administered to Correira came after Rousey's two previous fights lasted just 14 seconds and 16 seconds, each. The one before that lasted one minute and six seconds and the American bantamweight fighter now has a record of 12 wins and no losses, with 11 of those wins coming in the first round.

Rousey has become the biggest draw in the UFC and 28-year-old former Olympic judo bronze medalist, has established herself as a "total trailblazer" writes Gareth A Davies in the Daily Telegraph. "If you are a woman and you don't know who Ronda Rousey is – you should."

She was the first woman in UFC

It was Rousey who persuaded UFC impresario Dana White to allow women into the world of cage fighting two-and-a-half years ago, and since then she has become the biggest star, of either sex, in the sport.

However, her dominance means she is running out of opponents. "Though the women she has destroyed are fine fighters, the number of legitimate contenders are dwindling," says The Guardian.

Not everyone has accepted her

"Rousey's groundbreaking career is full of firsts and superlatives," says CNN. "She's been called a pioneer, a megastar, a badass, a beast. She's also been called arrogant, brash and cocky."

She can legitimately claim to be the world's best fighter, but she remains a polarising figure, adds the broadcaster. "Magazine profiles and TV interviews play up what they call contrasting qualities, as if none could mutually exist: an attractive woman excelling in a bloody sport; friendly and laid back in person while exhibiting brute force against opponents; masculine in physicality while relying on her sexuality to sell magazine covers."

She will be one of the greats

"She is preternaturally focused and driven and capable of masterfully handling an enormous set of expectations," says the Guardian. She has charisma, wit and calm, writes Jason Gay of the Wall Street Journal, "the rare, imperturbable calm you see in athletes at the top of a sport".

Gareth Davies of the Telegraph is even more impresed. "I've covered fight sports for over 20 years... and Ronda compares with any of the greats over that period of time. And some. She is utterly fascinating."

She is branching out

"Rousey is a business now," says the Wall Street Journal. "she's ventured into acting with parts in Entourage and The Expendables and Fast and the Furious franchises. She shares an agent, Brad Slater, with the former football player-turned-wrestler-turned-box-office-heavyweight Dwayne 'The Rock' Johnson, and it is not hard to see a potential road map there."

Her next project is an action film with Mark Wahlberg called Mile 22, after which she will return to the ring.

She doesn't mince her words

When asked if she would ever fight Floyd Mayweather, the boxing champion with a history of domestic abuse, she responded by saying that would only happen if they were dating. In July, when she won ESPN's fighter of the year award she said: "I wonder how Floyd feels being beat by a woman for once."

She also has a term for "the kind of chick that just tries to be pretty and be taken care of by somebody else", and calls them "do-nothing bitches".

She is a female role model

Well-educated, good-looking and media-savvy Rousey knows exactly what she is doing.

She has also dealt with the media focus on her physical attributes with typical bluntness. When some said she looked too masculine she replied that her body was "feminist-ly bad-ass as f***, because there's not a single muscle on my body that isn't used for a purpose".

But she has also been "outspoken about insecurities with her body and how it led to substance abuse and bulimia in her teens", reports CNN. And her last fight got personal when her opponent brought up the death of her father, who committed suicide when she was just eight.

Her rise is another positive for female sport, says the WSJ. "We are more than halfway through the sports summer, and the most compelling stories of the season have involved female athletes. Serena Williams won the French Open and Wimbledon and is closing in on a calendar Slam... The US women's national soccer team triumphed in Vancouver at the World Cup... Now it’s Ronda Rousey, irresistible, fun to watch, smashing barriers, supercharging a sport, defending her historic greatness in the time it took you to read this sentence."

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