Women's Sport: The rise and fall of Ronda Rousey's career so far

The career of Ronda Rousey is one that can be described as illustrious, to say the least, whether that be in relation to Judo, Mix Martial Arts, or Professional Wrestling.

Though still only 33, Rousey has achieved mass recognition as an athlete – beginning her professional career at the age of 17 when she represented the United States at the 2004 Summer Olympics in Athens – making her the youngest judoka to qualify.

Her career is one full of great accomplishment, however, all careers have their lows as well. Here are some ups and downs from Rousey’s life as a professional athlete to date – in order of occurrence:

10 | Up | Olympic Bronze in 2008:

Ronda began her judo path as an 11-year-old, attending classes with her mother, AnnMaria De Mars. She may have made it to the 2004 Olympics at 17, but it was the games four years later that elevated her to new heights. In the 2008 Olympics in Beijing, Rousey became a Bronze Medalist after defeating Annett Boehm – the win meant she became the first American to win a women’s judo medal since it became an Olympic sport.

This victory ended up being her last in the sport as she opted to retire from it at the age of just 21 in order to focus on a new path in MMA.

9 | Up | First professional MMA title: 

Rousey began her amateur MMA career in 2010, winning her first three fights before opting to turn professional in 2011. Her pro status may have changed, but her success in the cage didn’t. After winning her first two fights, she signed with Strikeforce. There Rousey won two bouts before challenging then Strikeforce Bantamweight Champion Miesha Tate in 2012, where she was victorious, beating Tate in the first round. of their title match. This win marked Rousey’s first professional MMA title reign.

8 | Up | Headlined UFC 170:

Ronda was named the inaugural UFC Bantamweight Champion when she became the first women to sign for the promotion in 2012. She successfully defended her title at UFC 157 and 168, then faced her toughest competitor at the time – the undefeated Sara McMann. The fight was selected to main event the UFC 170 card, with Rousey beating McMann via Technical knockout in the first round – her first pro wins not by submission.  

7 | Up | ESPN fan’s ‘best female athlete ever’: 

Arguably the biggest achievement of her career, Rousey was named ESPN fan’s ‘best female athlete ever’ in 2015, pipping tennis superstar Serena Williams to the award. At this point in Ronda’s career, she was on a 12-0 undefeated streak in MMA, as well as having an Olympic bronze medal.

6 | Down | Defeat to Holly Holm:

Ronda had just been named ‘best athlete of all time’ by ESPN’s fans, she was 12-0 in her MMA career and made a record six successful title defences going into her UFC 193 fight with Holly Holm. However, there at some point in a professional’s path to greatness, comes their first big low point – for Ronda – this was her defeat to Holm. The loss meant Rousey was no longer undefeated in MMA, but also no longer UFC Bantamweight Champion, ending a three-year reign as the titleholder.

5 | Down | Unsuccessful comeback against Amanda Nunes:

After being on the receiving end of her first loss as an MMA fighter, Rousey took a break from the octagon for over a year, before returning to face then UFC Bantamweight Champion Amanda Nunes in the main event of UFC 207. The return was unsuccessful, losing to Nunes in 48 seconds of the first round.

The result of her second MMA defeat left Ronda to move away from MMA with a professional record of 12 wins and two losses.  

4 | Up | First female to be inducted into UFC Hall of Fame: 

Two years after her last UFC appearance, Ronda achieved a milestone no women have done before – being inducted into the UFC Hall of Fame in 2018. The achievement was huge and most defiantly deserved given the achievements she had accomplished within the world of MMA. 

3 | Winning the RAW Women’s Championship:

Post-UFC, Rousey made several appearances in WWE, before officially signing for the wrestling promotion in 2018. She made her in-ring debut at WrestleMania 34, teaming with Kurt Angle and defeating Triple H and Stephanie McMahon. Ronda continued to win and in her third match faced Alexa Bliss for the Raw Women’s Championship at SummerSlam in August 2018. Rousey ‘squashed’ Bliss in four minutes to win the title – making her the first women to win a UFC and WWE championship. 

2 | Up | Headline the first all-women WWE pay-per-view:

WWE presented their first-ever all-female PPV called Evolution in October 2018. Ronda was in the main event of the card, defending her title against Nikki Bella. She successfully retained the belt via submission.

After the event, Rousey became the first women to the main event both a UFC and WWE PPV.

1 | Down | Losing the title to Becky Lynch at WrestleMania 35:

Since her debut at WrestleMania 34, Ronda blitzed through competition in WWE, again being undefeated until the following year’s WrestleMania when she lost the Raw Women’s Championship in a triple threat match against Charlotte Flair and winner, Becky Lynch. The loss was a controversial one, with many thinking the actual way the match finished was not right.

This was her last appearance for WWE and has since used social media to update fans on her current life.

There’s no denying that Ronda Rousey has stamped her name in the history books of all professional athletes. 

It’ll be interesting to see if she does eventually return to the WWE, or could last year’s WrestleMania subsequently be her last in the squared-circle? 

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