The former undisputed queen of MMA, Ronda Rousey made her long – awaited, and much discussed WWE debut at the Royal Rumble. One could say that it was a long time coming; Stephanie McMahon and Triple H have been courting Rousey ever since her defeat to Amanda Nunes in December 2016.
In fact, her cameo at WrestleMania 31 opened doors for Rousey to enter the professional wrestling realm. However, things were very different at the time. Ronda was still the undefeated anomaly in women’s MMA, and her stock had never been higher. Movie roles, opportunities to grace the cover of the most prestigious magazines, and the chance to star on hit TV series and late night shows kept her busy.
In hindsight, while that distraction could’ve led to her getting complacent, this isn’t to see how Ronda’s fortunes could’ve been different, had she kept her wits about herself. This could’ve just as easily been inevitable, given Ronda’s affinity towards the professional wrestling industry, and the fact that she had always thought about becoming a professional wrestler.
Over the past couple of years, the MMA fighters have seriously been thinking about changing professions, and becoming pro wrestlers. Former UFC and MMA fighter, Matt Riddle became one of the first fighters to try their hand in professional wrestling, and found out that once he applied himself, he could become one of the best workers in the business. The likes of Daniel Cormier have been ardent wrestling fans growing up, while Conor McGregor proved that showboating can take you a long way in the sport of mixed martial arts.
Could Ronda’s WWE debut lead to more MMA fighters jump ships to WWE?
The women’s revolution, whilst being a sincere effort by WWE, hasn’t been driven across as much as WWE would’ve wanted. However, bringing Ronda on board will go a long way in putting WWE’s point across.
Ronda wasn’t the only major female MMA fighter that expressed her interest in competing in WWE. The current UFC Women’s Featherweight Champion, Cris ‘Cyborg’ has been calling out WWE Superstars since last year, and lobbied to get a match at SummerSlam in 2017.
The likes of Paige VanZant, who, much like Rousey, was touted to carry the women’s division for the next decade have fallen astray. The fact that entertainment has taken the front seat under the WME – IMG regime has encouraged the fighters to bring out their showmen — and accentuate their characteristics, and the company has changed drastically over the past five years.
Is WWE the next logical destination for the MMA fighters?
On the other hand, a lot of the top athletes grew up watching, and dreaming about competing in WWE. There is also the matter of pay disparity; while all the champions would want to have pay parity, and earn in the same line as the McGregors, it is obvious that UFC would only be interested in promoting those who have proven to be major draws.
However, in WWE, the same athletes could get guaranteed down payments, which is something they would make fighting for over two years! This has been one of the major reasons for Brock Lesnar agreeing to a new contract couple of years ago. Rather than earning five million over two years – and a couple of fights, Lesnar opted to work the most flexible schedule imaginable in WWE, while earning the same amount in one year.
The flexibility, atttractive proposition of being marketed as a top name in the industry, and the allure of being paid what they deserve are just three of the reasons why UFC fighters and champions would be looking at WWE as an alternative, especially now that Ronda has finally pulled the trigger with her WWE career.