UFC 157

UFC 157: Where Ronda Rousey's Victory Ranks Among Top Women's Sports Milestones

ANAHEIM, CA - FEBRUARY 23:  Ronda Rousey hits Liz Carmouche during their UFC Bantamweight Title fight at Honda Center on February 23, 2013 in Anaheim, California.  (Photo by Jeff Gross/Getty Images)
Jeff Gross/Getty Images
Shawn BrubakerContributor IIFebruary 24, 2013

Ronda Rousey's dominance in UFC has taken fans of the sport by storm. A usually male-dominated sport has seen a powerful woman grab hold of the public consciousness in a way that no man has, and her win has cemented her as a legendary figure in the sport. For that, Rousey's win over Liz Carmouche is one of the greatest achievements in women's sports history.

To be clear, Rousey's win is in lofty company.

Billie Jean King always comes to mind when discussing women's sporting accomplishments, mainly because of her 1973 Battle of the Sexes victory over Bobby Riggs. She struck a big blow for women's sports, proving that women athletes were just as worthy of recognition as men.

Rousey's victory, though, didn't need the affirmation that women can beat men. Instead, it was famous on its own merits. Two of the world's best fighters caught the public's attention, and their gender was only tangentially relevant. In a way, that puts this fight above King's victory.

In terms of toughness, Rousey's win is reminiscent of Kerri Strug's brilliant vault in the 1996 Atlanta Summer Games. Strug's performance is memorable because she not only won the United States the team title over the Russians for the first time, but she did it on a broken ankle.

Rousey didn't exactly measure up to Strug's injury-stricken performance, but keep in mind that UFC is a violent sport that sees its competitors get brutalized constantly. Strug's performance is legendary, but Rousey is tough in her own right.

One final comparable accomplishment is the 1999 U.S. women's soccer victory at the World Cup. Like Rousey's fight, that victory captured the public imagination the way few women's sporting accomplishments have. The Rose Bowl was packed to see the final match, and the team remains legendary to this day.

Every so often, a woman captures the public's attention with a brilliant athletic performance. Rousey is the latest in a long line of brilliant achievements. Though her win wasn't as important as Strug's or the 1999 U.S. team, it will justifiably be mentioned in the same breath.

Rousey deserves that credit for her dominating performances in one of the most brutal sports in the world.

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