Ronda Rousey Continues to Dominate the U.F.C.
By: Kelefa Sanneh, The New Yorker
"Ronda Rousey is an aspiring action star and a celebrity endorser, a connoisseur of swimwear and an accomplished Instagrammer. But she likes to reassure interviewers that her day job is her top priority. 'The only reason Hollywood is even interested in me is because of fighting,' she said, in an article published on the Web site of the Ultimate Fighting Championship. 'I have to protect that. I know how people are going to remember me—and that’s as a fighter.'
"In the span of a few years, Rousey has become perhaps the U.F.C.’s biggest star, a marketable personality who also happens to be an all-time great. In her division, which is bantamweight (or a hundred and thirty-five pounds), she is as dominant, and in her own way as intimidating, as Mike Tyson was during his late-nineteen-eighties heyday. As Tyson did, Rousey sometimes struggles to find opponents whom fans consider credible. A year ago, fighting an accomplished wrestler named Sara McMann, Rousey was approximately a four-to-one favorite. (The fight lasted just over a minute, and ended after Rousey crumpled McMann with a knee to the midsection.) This past weekend, she fought Cat Zingano, widely thought to be a tougher opponent, with a better résumé. Nevertheless, the oddsmakers weren’t impressed: this time, Rousey was the favorite at around eight-to-one.
"Rousey’s rise has given the U.F.C., and its fans, something to celebrate at a time when the company is undergoing a tricky transition from a scrappy upstart to a popular—and heavily scrutinized—athletic organization. The U.F.C. is by far the biggest player in the sport that is generally known as mixed martial arts, or M.M.A. It aspires to become the fighting equivalent of the N.F.L., a ubiquitous brand that is nearly synonymous with its sport, and there are signs of growing mainstream appeal, including a broadcast arrangement with Fox and a sponsorship deal with Reebok."
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