The Ronda Rousey Debate That Needs to go Away (Commentary)

By Ed Molina
Mar. 25, 2015

Ronda Rousey celebrates successfully defending her Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) women's bantamweight title defeating Cat Zingano in 14-seconds via submission with a straight armbar.
Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports

The argument that Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) women's bantamweight champion Ronda Rousey needs to battle a man in The Octagon need to be put to rest permanently.

Rousey, who keeps disposing of her competition in rather convincing manner, including a 14-second victory over Cat Zigano, has been the subject of much debate as to whether she could beat a male, in sort of a new-age Billy Jean King-Bobby Riggs confrontation.

The controversy has become click-bait fodder, with hack writers and lazy editors dwelling on the topic in an attempt to draw eyeballs to their websites in order to generate controversial attention and revenue.

Put certain names in your headline -- LeBron James, Cristiano Ronaldo, Floyd Mayweather -- and it will draw clicks to your site from both obsessed fans of those athletes as well as those who cannot stand them.

Talent is not even necessary to become a click-bait figure that an editor fall back on when traffic is low on their website. Ask anyone who has worked as a sports writer or blogger about Jeremy Lin or Tim Tebow and the frustrated scribe could tell you a tale of shouting matches with their bosses because they were forced to write the obligatory "Jeremy Lin Took Shower" story. Writers squirm in front of their keyboards as they try to appease their superiors who worry more about getting x-amount of “hits” rather than proper grammar.

Rousey's fame has become a bit of a movement, especially among female sports fans as they live vicariously through her with each tap-out victory, attracting new eyeballs and new money to the sport.

Rousey, a polarizing presence in mixed martial arts (MMA), has reached this strange stratosphere of popularity and hate, which is driving the asinine argument as to whether she could and should fight men, an easy lay-up story to increase traffic.

But what keeps these click-bait articles continually proliferating are those who want to see the UFC women's bantamweight champion fail. Some point to the lack of depth in Rousey's division as UFC president Dana White continues pushing WMMA to the main card of his pay-per-view events. Others just plain dislike her brash personality. And then there is the sense of paternalism caused by a woman succeeding in a so-called "man's sport" while drawing female fans to the sport.

Look at the comment section of some of these articles. There is outright misogyny being spewed by these "Keyboard Gangsters" who flat-out do not want WMMA getting off the ground. It’s that negativity, that "see, I told you so,” need to be proven correct that keeps these stories alive. And websites care not one bit if the reader loves or hates Rousey. All they want is that “click” -- be it from fan or hater. Because clicks equal dollars.

All of that said, there is one reason why this "Rousey versus men" narrative needs to end: it will never happen.

In a world where a lot of us cringed at the sight of former Baltimore Ravens running back Ray Rice crumbling his fiancee with a punch, do we really want to see that optic inside “The Octagon" even if for some ungodly reason such a bout were sanctioned by a state athletic commission? What state athletic commission wants to rain down that kind of controversy on themselves? And is not such a bout setting the sport back as it has made great strides since it became legal in 49 states once again?

Regardless a win, a loss or a draw, the minute a man lands a blow on Rousey, the visual of a man hitting a woman, even in a sanctioned fight, is an image that automatically returns UFC back to its "human cockfight" dark ages, something White and the Fretittas brothers – who own the organization – would like to avoid altogether.

Rousey, who has become very media savvy as her reputation continues to grow, understands this dynamic that many seem intent on ignoring altogether.

“I really just don't think that any athletic commission on Earth would ever condone something like that,” Rousey said on “Fights are going to go both ways. You're going to see both people hitting each other. I don't think we should celebrate a man hitting a woman in any kind of setting.”

Rousey herself has no desire to be the Billie Jean King of a new generation and is not actively searching for a Bobby Riggs to defeat. Despite her bravado and confidence that she can beat anyone in the world, unlike most click-baiters, she is self-aware that, “there's no setting in which we should condone a man hitting a woman.”

"Me fighting a man will change the perception of a woman being an inferior creature?" said . "Is that what you're saying? I really don't think that's necessary."

Rousey has other female challengers out there to talk about despite the dumbed-down debates that persist to be churned out. Rousey is slated to headline UFC 190 against Bethe Correia – who has already defeated the champion's “Four Horsewoman” training partners Shayna Baszler and Jessamyn Duke, mocking her waving four fingers to draw Rousey's attention.

And of course, Invicta FC World Featherweight Champion Cris Cyborg, who retired WMMA's godmother of the sport in 2009, Gina Carano, to win Strikeforce's Featherweight Championship with a first round TKO, looms large as she looks to for a match against Rousey.

So, lets be smart and focus on realistic fights that are out there for Rousey as opposed to speculating over a man hitting a woman. Nothing good -- not for the sport of MMA or society -- can come out of such a scenario.

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