NEW YORK: The rumors were true. Ronda Rousey is now officially a WWE superstar.
The former Olympic bronze medalist and first-ever UFC women’s bantamweight champion made a last-gasp appearance at the WWE’s Royal Rumble pay-per-view event in Philadelphia on Sunday night.
And while she didn’t utter a word, or take part in a match, she made a big enough statement, standing in front of the two WWE women’s champions, Charlotte Flair and Alexa Bliss, as well as the Royal Rumble winner Asuka, and pointing to the Wrestlemania sign.
A lifelong pro wrestling fan Rousey was linked with a switch to the WWE from the moment she left the octagon following her TKO loss to Amanda Nunes at UFC 207 in December 2016. Her ‘Rowdy’ nickname was a tribute to WWE legend ‘Rowdy’ Roddy Piper, who gave her his permission to use his nickname during her MMA career.
And that relationship with Piper, who sadly died in 2015, was evident at the Royal Rumble, as Rousey walked into the arena wearing his old leather jacket, given to her as a gift by Piper’s family.
Rousey was a trailblazer in the world of mixed martial arts, as she became the first woman to win a bout in the UFC, and the promotion’s first-ever women’s world champion.
And now she’s swapping the octagon for the squared circle as she fulfills a lifelong ambition to become a WWE superstar.
“This is my life now. This is not a smash-and-grab. This is not a publicity stunt,” Rousey told ESPN.
“It was something I always wanted to do but I never thought was in the cards for me.
“And now that I realise I really do have this opportunity, I feel like my six-year-old self would totally kick my ass if I didn’t take it.”