Ronda Rousey: The UFC’s dominant and polarizing champion

Since her last victory against Cat Zingano at UFC 184, Ronda Rousey has widened the gap between herself and other women in her division,…

By: Michael Hutchinson | 8 years ago
Ronda Rousey: The UFC’s dominant and polarizing champion
Bloody Elbow 2.0 | Anton Tabuena

Since her last victory against Cat Zingano at UFC 184, Ronda Rousey has widened the gap between herself and other women in her division, both in skill and popularity.

Rousey starred in two movies, Furious 7 and Entourage, had an in-ring segment with The Rock at WrestleMania 31, won Best Fighter and Best Female Athlete at the ESPY awards and was named the World’s Most Dominant Athlete by Sports Illustrated.

Meanwhile, up and coming contenders like Jessica Eye, Amanda Nunes and Holly Holm have yet to make impressive runs in the division, even though they are the only new challengers to Rousey’s throne.

When Rousey was declared the World’s Most Dominant Athlete, many people felt the title was undeserving due to Rousey’s lack of competition. A title like Most Dominant Athlete in Comparison to His or Her Fellow Peers just doesn’t roll off the tongue as well, but is a more accurate description of Rousey’s accomplishments.

As the info graphic above shows, Rousey’s average win time is a staggering 2 minutes and 16 seconds. The next closest women at the top of the division is Cat Zingano at 9 minutes and 29 seconds. Rousey will be going up against Bethe Correia this weekend at UFC 190, who has the longest average win time at 13:18.

A true showing of a dominant champion is one who can not only defeat their opposition, but one who does it with ease. Finishing a professionally trained fighter in under a minute is hard, but it’s something Rousey has had no trouble doing.

When the biggest outlier in your fight time data is one that was finished early in the 3rd round, it begins to make sense when people begin the discussion of her dominance. One thing that this graph doesn’t tell you is that her last seven fights were five round fights, yet only one left the first round. In terms of skill, there is no doubt that among women’s bantamweight fighters, Rousey is at least a decade ahead in terms of in-ring ability.

As mentioned before, it’s not only her impressive wins that keep Rousey ahead of the pack. Her ability to sell a fight and cross over to mainstream media is something that has only been challenged by Conor McGregor recently.

When it comes to her own division, just like her fights, there is no competition. In order to give Ronda a challenge, you have to put her up against the men. We will probably never see that occur inside of the cage, but that doesn’t mean we can’t compare her to men in terms of popularity and drawing power.

Here is a graph showing the PPV buy rates of the most dominant champions in the UFC today. What immediately jumps out is that both Ronda Rousey and Chris Weidman have the ability to sell over 500,000 PPV’s whether together or alone.

The most interesting part of this graph is the fact that Rousey out sold Chris Weidman in her last PPV while being the only championship fight on the card. UFC 184 sold 590,000 PPV’s while UFC 187, featuring a Light Heavyweight and Middleweight Championship fight, sold 350,000 PPV’s.

She has yet to pull away from the pack as the #1 draw in the UFC. She will face stiff competition from Conor McGregor, a returning Jon Jones and the possible return of both Fedor Emelianenko and Georges St. Pierre in the coming years.

The fact that she can remain competitive with the top talent in the men’s divisions show that as far as women’s MMA goes, it’s the Ronda Rousey show. There is not a single woman in her division who can match both her skill and popularity. After this coming Saturday, the UFC may need to look outside of the current roster to give Ronda a worthy adversary.

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Michael Hutchinson
Michael Hutchinson

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