Even before she defeated Cat Zingano Saturday in the blink of an eye, UFC President Dana White joked that if she managed another quick win, he didn’t know what to do with Rousey. What can he do?
“Women are going to keep evolving and getting better,” White said in an interview last week, “but so is Ronda. I don’t know. I don’t know the answer to that question.”
Following the 14-second win, he began likening her to Mike Tyson, hoping her sheer dominance might be more marketable going forward than the quality of possible opponents.
[Related: Watch Rousey win her match in 14 seconds]
While Rousey immediately began talking about a possible rematch with Zingano, she knows she’s made White’s job tougher. And she’ll offer no apologies for that.
“I am making his job a little difficult for him,” Rousey said in a recent interview, “but you know, it’s not my job to make his easy.”
With the possible exception of Cris Cyborg, there’s not an obvious foe that fans might clamor for and eagerly pluck down pay-per-view money. And that point might be moot because Cyborg isn’t close to fighting at 135 pounds. She shared a photo this weekend showing a scale that read 175 pounds.
White has some time. Rousey will take a break from training to film another movie.
The fighter has given no indication that she’s bored or disenchanted with the quality of opponents available to her. Even with a steady stream of Hollywood work, she insists MMA is her priority.
“Everything else is second to that. You can’t top that,” she said. “There’s no picture that tops being the greatest fighter in the world. There’s no movie that tops being the greatest fighter in the world. There’s not one single actor in Hollywood that has a name better than Muhammad Ali. So as long as I protect that one thing and I prioritize that first, I know that despite everything else, I am a fighter that happens to do other things. I know that’s what people are going to remember most.”
When White settles on an opponent and Rousey returns to training, she says it’s not difficult to shift her focus. Though she doesn’t have to worry about paying bills and certainly doesn’t have to fight to make a living, she can’t foresee a time when she walks away from the Octagon to focus on acting.
“If I wanted to do something for money, I probably would’ve gone to school to become a doctor or something, you know,” she said.
While Rousey says she enjoys modeling and acting, neither provides the joy and sense of fulfillment of MMA. Her coach calls her a “born fighter,” and there are only so many ways to scratch that itch.
“Sometimes I worry how I will handle retirement?” she said. “When I tried retiring from judo, I didn’t handle it very well. There is going to be a day — I look at my mom and I have hope because one point in your life, winning the world championship in judo was the only thing that every mattered. But once she did that, she was able to move on, start a family and a business. Other things became important to her.
“Hopefully, I can reach that point where something else will matter that much. That’s why I try to have other careers going on simultaneously, so it’s not like once I’m done with fighting, I’ll having nothing. I want to feel like once I’m done with fighting, I have some new, big, near-impossible endeavor to go after next.”