Ronda Rousey is quickly becoming one of the most iconic athletes in sports. On a night when many of the biggest superstars from sports and entertainment, including NBA stars Kobe Bryant and LeBron James, NFL star Aaron Rodgers, and actors Sylvester Stallone and Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson were tweeting to her to wish her luck, she rose to the occasion yet again.
She needed only 34 seconds this time to retain her women’s bantamweight title over Bethe Correia, but this wasn’t the same old Rousey.
Her striking, which some said was her weakness, led her to the one-sided victory in the main event of UFC 190 at HSBC Arena Saturday in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.
Rousey’s striking overwhelmed Correia, whose striking had led her to a 9-0 mark entering the bout. But Rousey ripped Correia with clean, hard shots and finished it with a right to the temple. Correia fell on her face as referee John McCarthy quickly stopped it.
It was four seconds longer than the combined time of her two previous wins — 16 seconds over Alexis Davis at UFC 175 and 14 seconds over Cat Zingano at UFC 184 — but in the manner of finish, it was probably her most impressive.
Rousey fought Correia at her own game and came out on top.
An emotional Rousey, who said she was angered by Correia’s pre-fight trash talk that she took as shots at her family, dedicated the win to the late professional wrestler “Rowdy” Roddy Piper. Piper, who died in his sleep Friday, had given Rousey permission to use his “Rowdy” nickname.
“I hope him and my Dad had a good time watching today,” said Rousey, fighting back tears.
Anyone who loves watching an elite athlete at his or her peak had to have a good time. Rousey is simply one of the greatest athletes in the world and she performs under the pressure like few others.
She has her critics, who mostly show jealousy because of her fame and success, because there is nothing she doesn’t do properly.
Correia had beaten two of Rousey’s teammates, Jessamyn Duke and Shayna Baszler, and so Rousey called her out after a 14-second victory over Zingano in Los Angeles in February.
Rousey was angered by a Correia comment in the build-up to the fight in which Correia referenced suicide. Rousey’s father, Ron, committed suicide.
“I will give her a rematch if she doesn’t cry too much.” Correia said. “She can’t take the pressure. I will give her the chance to get the belt back. Please, don’t kill yourself, don’t commit suicide, because I will give you the rematch.”
Correia said later she didn’t know about Rousey’s father’s suicide, but Ronda Rousey said she didn’t believe that. Rousey said before the fight she wanted to beat Correia so badly that no one else would bring her family into it.
Asked if the win was satisfying, Rousey said, “I hope nobody picks on my family any more when it comes to fights. I hope this was the last time.”
The addition of top-notch striking to the rest of her game makes the most dominant fighter in the world even scarier. She’d shown signs of good hands, most notably in her 2014 victory over Sara McMann at UFC 170 that, by comparison, looks like a marathon at 66 seconds.
But never in a fight did she rely solely on her hands before.
She went for a throw, but Correia fended her off. However, Correia fell and somersaulted backward toward the cage. When she got to her feet, Rousey was there and ripped off a combination. She hurt Correia, who tried to move away. Rousey landed a knee and then a short right to the temple that sent Correia down face first.
It was beating the striker at her own game.
“She can’t say anything about my hands any more, huh?” Rousey said.
Anyone who criticizes her now is only looking for things to rip her about. She’s now beaten all of the fighters in the women’s bantamweight division’s top five, as well as six of the top seven and seven of the top 10.
She’ll next face Miesha Tate, whom she has already submitted twice. The big fight, though, is against Cristiane “Cyborg” Justino, a featherweight who thus far hasn’t done anything to prove she can make the bantamweight limit of 135.
Even if Justino makes it, it’s unlikely the result of a fight with Rousey would be much different.
Rousey is just that good.
Her goal is to end her career unbeaten and, looking at the field, it’s hard to bet against her.