Part 2 – If Rousey wants to be the GOAT….
To catch up on part 1, click here.
First, Rousey has to fight Cris Cyborg Santos and any other top female contenders within that two year window. This includes at the moment, the Miesha Tate rematch and the originally scheduled Cat Zingano fight. Rousey currently refers to herself as the best, and while that isn’t a reach, it is still up for debate until she faces and defeats a few fighters.
Rousey is far from claiming the greatest of all time label. She has seven professional fights, all first round wins decided by armbar. Seven. There are women fighters who have double and triple that amount who aren’t even thinking about retirement from the sport. Rousey is the hottest female fighter (no pun intended) in MMA today, but in the grand scheme of things, her resume just doesn’t compare with someone like Marloes Coenen or Cris Cyborg. Rowdy is well on her way obviously, but a two year cap changes things.
If she isn’t going to fight Cyborg and defend against the best female MMA fighters in the world, then she might as well retire now. Rousey can probably defeat anyone currently on the UFC women’s roster, albeit none of the challengers she faces will be “gimmes”. Assuming she takes three fights a year (which is far from certain), she can notch another six title defenses and push her UFC win total (and successful title defenses) to seven, a number that may be out of reach for another fighter for quite some time.
But it will be harder to sell fights against contenders who aren’t as established as a Miesha Tate or Cris Cyborg. If Rousey really does stop after a two year window, then a superfight between her and Cris Cyborg would have to happen to determine who really is the best. Otherwise, when she eventually retires, she will simply fade into UFC and MMA lore as someone who did a lot to kickstart the women’s division, but left a lot of questions unanswered before she left.
Guys like GSP, Anderson Silva and Jon Jones are in this for one reason and one reason only: to be remembered as the best who ever did it. Rousey doesn’t seem to have that same motivation. She talked about feeling mortal in her last fight, and yeah, she almost got choked out. But every single one of her fights, both amateur and professional, including the last one, have all ended in first round armbars. She’s not exactly taking a beating the way some of these other fighters do in their fights. So that kind of talk isn’t exactly what you would expect from a fighter as dominant as Rousey, and it’s certainly not what you would hear from any other champion on a seven fight win streak. That’s no knock on her, but if she is thinking of bailing out in two years’ time without fighting the best in the world, she might be better served by retiring sooner.
The comparisons to Gina Carano are spot on now, a pretty face with a background in MMA transitioning to Hollywood action movies. MMA fighters, especially those at the very pinnacle of the sport, can’t wear two hats. You’re either a full-time champion, or you’re not. Rousey is already landing roles left and right, and the distractions that come along with that are guaranteed to affect her performance as a mixed martial artist. To what extent has yet to be seen, but it doesn’t take a nuclear physicist to figure out Rousey would be a better fighter if she only had to worry about fighting. Combine that with all of the hungry fighters in the UFC Women’s division gunning to be the best, and the potential for danger increases even more. Let’s not forget, Rousey almost lost her debut fight in the UFC. She has been putting down all comers left and right, but in her first UFC fight, she almost lost. This was before Hollywood came calling. It will be interesting to see if and how her roles in movies, along with promotional requirements and all of the things that go along with starring in a movie, will affect her performance in her next fight.
Rousey is in a similar spot to Anderson Silva a year or two ago, when Silva had contemplated retirement (before signing a 10-fight contract with the UFC). She might have been a little wiser to keep her plan within her camp, but now that it’s known, questions will abound. Now that Rousey threw that number out there, every single one of her fights will be scrutinized much more closely because it would be one of her last.