Ronda Rousey Joins WWE on Full-Time Contract
Former UFC women’s bantamweight champion Ronda Rousey made a surprise appearance at WWE’s Royal Rumble on Sunday night in Philadelphia. Rousey emerged to the delight of the crowd immediately after the women’s Royal Rumble match, where it was revealed that she has signed a new full-time deal to join WWE.
In an interview with ESPN’s Ramona Shelburne, Rousey said,
“This is my life now. First priority on my timeline for the next several years. This is not a smash-and-grab; this is not a publicity stunt. When I first met with Triple H, I told him, ‘There are other things I can do with my time that’ll make way more money, but I won’t enjoy nearly as much.’”
Rousey made her first WWE appearance after Asuka won the first women’s Royal Rumble match at the expense of Sasha Banks and the Bella Twins. After her victory, Asuka was given the choice between doing battle with either Alexa Bliss or Charlotte Flair, who had been sitting ringside to watch the previous match. Before she could do so, however, Joan Jett’s “Bad Reputation” blasted over the Wells Fargo Center loudspeakers, and Rousey emerged.
Rousey then went to the center of the ring in front of the raucous crowd to shake hands with Stephanie McMahon, thus sealing her deal to make the switch to professional wrestling.
“I don’t have words at all. I’m like – this is the most overstimulated I’ve ever been in my life and…I’m just, like I’m still processing it. I’m so happy and I don’t have words for it – and I usually have words for everything. This never happened before.”
Rousey first became a noteworthy name after winning the bronze medal for judo at the 2008 Summer Olympics in Beijing, but she really burst into the mainstream in the world of ultimate fighting. She dominated each of her first 12 career matches in the bantamweight division in Strikeforce, and she went on to become the UFC women’s bantamweight champ.
Rousey quickly became arguably the most high-profile fighter in the world, going on to make numerous television and film appearances outside the octagon. While her profile continued to grow, however, her performance suffered a bit. Rousey lost each of her last 2 fights in dramatic fashion. She was upset by Holly Holm 3 years ago before falling at the hands of Amanda Nunes in 2016. The loss to Nunes caused Rousey to step away from MMA.
While the announcement on Sunday night was unexpected, Rousey has been linked with a potential WWE move in the past. She made a cameo appearance at WrestleMania 31 back in 2015. Rousey told Shelburne that wrestling is something she’s had an interest in doing since she was a kid. Rousey said, “It’s funny – it’s kind of like acting, in that it was something I always wanted to do but I never thought was in the cards for me.”
Rousey has appeared at other WWE events over the last few years, but this is the first time a legitimate deal has been announced. She’s certainly not the first athlete to make the jump from MMA to WWE. Brock Lesnar, Dan Severn, Quinton “Rampage” Jackson and Ken Shamrock are a few other notable names that have made the transition in the past.
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