LOS ANGELES: From Hollywood to hamburgers, Ronda Rousey’s cage-fighting exploits are propelling the ferocious former Olympic judoka further towards global superstardom.
The 28-year-old martial artist from California completed the latest in a series of devastating knockouts on Saturday (Sunday in Manila), demolishing Brazilian opponent Bethe Correia in just 34 seconds in Rio de Janeiro.
The quickfire defeat cemented Rousey’s reputation as arguably the most exciting fighter in any combat sport—she has taken a total of just one minute, four seconds to dispatch her last three opponents.
It’s the sort of record which has helped build a buzz around Rousey and the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) that has been compared to the rise of Mike Tyson in heavyweight boxing during the 1980s.
“She has that killer aura, meaning anything is capable of happening,” Tyson said during a recent visit to watch a Rousey workout at her base in Los Angeles.
Rousey was already a household name in the United States before her latest win. Two more significant deals announced in the aftermath of victory this week will raise her profile even further.
On Monday, Paramount Pictures confirmed they had secured the rights to Rousey’s bestselling autobiography “My Fight/Your Fight,” the story of the fighter’s remarkable rise through the ranks.
Unusually, Rousey will play herself in the Hollywood adaptation. She has already demonstrated a flair for the big-screen, appearing in the recent action movies “The Expendables 3,” “Furious 7” and the comedy film “Entourage.”
On Tuesday (Wednesday in Manila), Rousey was named by US burger chain “Carls Jr” as the face of its latest campaign, following in the footsteps of the likes of Paris Hilton, Kim Kardashian, Heidi Klum and Kate Upton.
“Aside from a variety of other factors, (Ronda) was chosen because she is loved and respected so much by both men and women,” a spokesperson from Carl’s Jr said.
Compelling life story
While it’s Rousey’s fearless performances inside the UFC Octagon that have won her fame and fortune, her back story is, in its own way, just as compelling.
After a childhood upturned by family tragedy—her father committed suicide when she was eight—she set about emulating her mother, the first American woman to win a judo world title, as a champion judoka.
Rousey took up the sport at 11 and at the age of just 17 qualified for the 2004 Athens Olympics. Four years later, she won a bronze medal in Beijing.
She was working in a bar when she saw the UFC for the first time and decided it was something she could thrive in.
UFC chief Dana White had initially said women would never take part in the sport but was ultimately persuaded by Rousey.
“She absolutely brings in a different audience,” White said in a recent interview.
“She brings in an audience of people who don’t normally buy every fight. And she brings in a lot of women.”
For now, however, the biggest challenge might be finding an opponent capable of giving Rousey a match.
Many hope to see Rousey face another Brazilian, Cris “Cyborg” Justino.
The South American, however, would have to come down in weight to face the American, usually fighting at the featherweight limit of 145 pounds rather than Rousey’s bantamweight 135 pounds.
Rousey, who has ruled out a bout at a compromise weight of 140 pounds, appeared to be goading Justino into accepting a challenge, referencing the Brazilian’s recent drug ban for testing positive for steroids.
“I fight in the UFC, in the 135-pound division,” Rousey told ESPN following her latest win.
“[Justino] can fight at 145 pumped full of steroids or she can make the weight just like everybody else without them.” AFP