The Ronda Rousey Myth: False Fame, the UFC Bubble and Too Much of a Good Thing

Jonathan SnowdenCombat Sports Senior WriterAugust 20, 2012

August 18, 2012; San Diego, CA, USA;    Ronda Rousey (black shorts) enters the arena to start her fight against Sarah Kaufman (not pictured) during their Strikeforce MMA women's bantamweight title bout at the Valley View Casino Center. Rousey won in 54 seconds of the first round. Mandatory Credit: Jayne Kamin-Oncea-US PRESSWIRE
Jayne Kamin-Oncea-US PRESSWIRE

Readers at Bleacher Report have been up in arms about what many of you perceive as Ronda Rousey overkill. You're tired of reading article after article about the best fighter in the history of women's MMA. She beat Sarah Kaufman in less than a minute. All we heard in response were yawns.

Lines have been drawn, comparisons made to the WNBA, requests, nay, demands, for Ms. Rousey to return to her place in the kitchen. You don't care about Rousey's appearance in ESPN: The Magazine. Conan? Dozens of guests sit on his couch every week. What makes Ronda so special? Rousey may be snatching arms, but she isn't yet snatching hearts.

Ironically, this blowback has inspired yet another Rousey article, the last one from me this news cycle—I promise. And it's, in part, a mea culpa. Because you are right and we were wrong. We went too far with Rousey hype—and the numbers prove it.

Behind the curtain at a big site like Bleacher Report, we keep a close eye on the metrics that matter to us. There are any number of statistics, from page views, to click rates, to time spent on the site. We want to know what you want to read because our goal in life is to feed you. We call you "the beast" and you are ravenously hungry for the latest news and opinion about mixed martial arts.

You don't, however, care one bit about Ronda Rousey. Her headliner on Showtime over the weekend, the one we sold to you like it was the Super Bowl and the World Cup combined, was less interesting to you, the gentle reader, than UFC 150. It wasn't even particularly close. And no one cared about UFC 150, either.

Ronda Rousey isn't what you are hungry for. You've told us so in the comments and the numbers speak loud and clear as well, all singing the same song. You have to forgive us, though—we just didn't believe it.

Most of us who run the MMA section of this site live in a UFC bubble. This is what we do, all we've known for years. We talk all day to other people who love this sport just as much as we do. And too often, that skews our perspective.

In the UFC bubble, Ronda Rousey is an exceedingly big deal. She's all anyone can talk about.

Isn't she pretty?

Isn't she remarkable on the mat?

Will she be the biggest star in our entire sport?

The answers are fairly clear at this point: yes, yes, heck no.

Maybe the idea of women punching each other in the face is a bridge too far for many fans? Maybe Rousey's bombastic personality doesn't work for people who like their female stars a bit more demure? Maybe, just maybe, MMA is a real life super hero comic and fans aren't willing to buy into the idea of a female butt kicker?

I don't know why fans haven't taken to Rousey the way we thought they would. Forgive me—I've only just embraced the truth that you haven't. I'm still mourning and not quite ready for whys.

In the scheme of things, us giving you a few extra Ronda Rousey stories is no big deal for anyone. You can read them or not, and life moves on. But it's an illustrative point about the power of perception and the dangers of a closed community.

The UFC bubble is very real. And it's incredibly dangerous. When you see UFC president Dana White make rash decisions based on his immediate Twitter feedback, when you hear people in the MMA world suggest Chris Weidman is a star because he looked good on a Fuel TV card in front of just over 100,000 people, you're seeing the bubble in action.

Ronda Rousey is not a star, not yet. Rousey is a myth, her success illusory, the result of a feedback loop that deafens us to opinions outside our tight circle. Ronda Rousey is a product of the bubble. And, at Bleacher Report at least, the bubble has burst.