Surprise, surprise! Ronda Rousey made quite the stir last week by saying she isn't content with being the UFC women's bantamweight champion. She wants to, basically, be a champion in every combat sport. Here's the full quote, via Damon Martin of FoxSports.com:
What I'd really like to do—and I don't know if I'll have the time and I just want to do so many things, but—I want to be remembered as one of the greatest fighters of all time at any sport...What I would love to do: I got an Olympic medal, I would want to retire from MMA as one of the greatest of all time, I would love to have the chance to be the boxing world champion, and I would love to have the chance to be a jiu-jitsu world champion. I'd love to have the chance to be the Divas world champion and just be the best of everything at one point.
Those are some lofty aspirations, which isn't unexpected of someone with the hunger and confidence of Rousey. But while there's no doubt that she has the athleticism and mindset of a champion, does she have the pure skills to pull off this feat? Could she really take gold in MMA, pro wrestling, jiu-jitsu and boxing?
Well, that's what we're here to discuss. Can Rousey realize her dream of holding gold in four different combat sports? Read on to find out.
WWE Divas Champion
The scripted nature of professional wrestling makes Rousey's Divas title aspirations less a question of "can she pull it off" and more a question of "will the WWE let her pull it off?" The answer to that question is a big, emphatic, OMGYES.
Rousey has maintained some manner of relationship with the WWE since SummerSlam 2014, and the brand pulled out all the stops at WrestleMania 31 by bringing Rousey into the ring for a segment alongside Triple H, The Rock and Stephanie McMahon. The Rousey business is booming, and the WWE has been buying into it for more than a year now.
As it stands, the WWE would love nothing more than to welcome Rousey to the fold. Per Cageside Seats, there have been persisting rumors that say the WWE is looking to make it happen behind the scenes and, heck, even in front of the scenes, the company is not trying to cover up how badly it wants her. With Raw's struggling ratings, one could bet the house on the WWE fast-tracking Rousey to the Divas title if she committed to any sort of run in pro wrestling.
Verdict: Definitely Yes
When it comes to technical analysis, no topic has been pored over as thoroughly or debated as much as Ronda Rousey's striking.
Naysayers focus in exclusively on her propensity for getting hit. Proponents will just point to the scoreboard. The reality, of course, lies somewhere in the middle.
Rousey has a solid boxing game in the context of MMA. In the cage, even if she gets hit, she can simply clinch up and get to work on a throw. Needless to say, boxers don't have to worry about that in the ring.
So would she be able to become a boxing champion? Sure...but simply becoming a "women's boxing champion" doesn't actually mean that much.
The state of women's boxing isn't all that much different from that of women's MMA. There are some high-level athletes with legitimate world-class skills competing at an elite level...and then there is everyone else.
Cecilia Braekhus, for example, is 27-0 and holds the WBA, WBC, WPBF, WBO, IBO and IBF titles at 147 pounds. Her accuracy, combinations and ability to mix together body and head work set her apart from something of a plodding, inelegant Rousey. In all likelihood, if they faced off today in a boxing match, Braekhus would win without much difficulty.
Would Rousey stand more of a chance if she dedicated herself exclusively to boxing for a length of time? Probably. Would she be able to win, even then? Probably not.
Braekhus, though, is not really the norm for women's boxing. While she stands out with her undefeated record and crowded mantel, there are more than a few paper champions in the sport today. Take, for example, Marisa Gabriela Nunez, who won the IBF 140-pound title with a record of 7-5-2. While she has since vacated the belt, the fact that she ever won it is telling.
While Rousey may not be a legitimate boxer, there are vacant titles to go after and flimsy competition that can do the job for her. If she were seeking the pure moral victory of winning a title in boxing, it's almost certain that she could pull it off without much trouble. If she actually wants to establish herself as a top-level boxer and take a belt from an entrenched champion, the odds are stacked against her.
Verdict: Probably Not
At face value, Rousey's desire to become a "BJJ champion" might seem the most out of reach. She has never really been regarded as a Brazilian jiu-jitsu practitioner, and everything about her grappling, from her trips and throws to her armbar setups, are rooted in her judo. All that said, Rousey's pure grappling ability would translate well to many major grappling championships such as the Mundials or ADCC Submission Wrestling World Championships.
It's not uncommon to see strong runs from people with pure wrestling or sambo backgrounds, and Rousey's world-class judo combined with her sheer strength and athleticism would make her a favorite over a number of regular faces. Mind you, that isn't to say Rousey would simply walk in and take any titles, as she could in professional wrestling or lower-level boxing. She could, however, walk in and reasonably win a few matches on points.
If Rousey put the time and effort into it, she would likely be able to, at the very least, put on a strong showing at a top submission grappling tournament. Winning wouldn't be guaranteed, but she would most certainly stand a chance. Also, much like with boxing, there are plenty of less prestigious titles in submission grappling that Rousey could target if top competition proved to be too much for her.