Stand in the spotlight long enough and sooner or later you're going to get burned.
That's a lesson Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) women's bantamweight champion Ronda Rousey is learning as she gears up for her latest title defense at UFC 193, a pay-per-view (PPV) headliner against Holly Holm that's expected to sell out the 60,000-seat Etihad Stadium in Melbourne, Victoria, Australia.
I wish it didn't have to come to this.
After all, Rousey -- an exemplary champion -- has been bulletproof since day one. When was the last time you read a headline about "Rowdy" missing weight or pulling out of a fight due to injury? Or saw a story posted about her making a jackass out of herself (and the sport), or failing a pre-fight drug test?
The answer is "never."
Rousey does everything a champion is supposed to do. She shows up for her fights and gives you 100 percent of herself. Outside of the cage, she shies away from canned answers, wears her heart on her sleeve, and tells you exactly how she feels.
As the UFC tagline suggests, Rousey is "as real as it gets," for better or for worse.
Her confidence, as well as her perfect record in combat sports, attracts some fans while repelling others. To that end, having a woman commandeer a male-dominated sport is new territory, a great story for the masses, and so has been boxed up and re-gifted countless times over the past twelve months.
Like the jelly of the month club, Clark, it's the gift that keeps on giving the whole year.
Organic or manufactured doesn't really matter at this point, nor does the fact that we're already into re-runs, because a star is a star. Stars bring both money and attention, two things critical for a business in the process of building itself, as well as its public image.
And clicks, let's not forget those clicks.
That's why UFC President Dana White strapped us into our high chairs and spoon fed us until we spit up. Like most mixed martial arts (MMA) fans, I've had my fill of Rousey and just want to take a nap. The good news is, I can see the finish line. It's somewhere in the midnight range on Saturday night.
And then? Rousey wants to "disappear" for awhile and "make people miss her."
That could leave her out of the Octagon until UFC 200 next July, which isn't that long in the grand scheme of things, but should be enough time to let some of these recent fires burn themselves out. I'm talking, of course, about all the extra baggage that comes with being the belle of the proverbial ball.
1. Who you're dating
2. Who you're hating
3. What your momma said
That's how we know Rousey has become a
Kardashian star, because nobody wants to talk about her fights. They're soooo predictable, bro. Anybody outside of the Jackson-Winkeljohn camp giving Holm a legitimate chance to upset the champion?
Don't be silly.
Rousey wins because she's on another level. The sport will eventually catch up to her as money and opportunity become increasingly prevalent in women's MMA, making it a more attractive option for female athletes. By that time, "Rowdy" will have long since retired, taking over for Cynthia Rothrock as the queen of chop-socky action flicks.
Hey, one can hope.
Until then, I fully expect her to run through the competition, and yes, that includes "Cyborg," who may have already missed her window of vulnerability. With Rousey a lock for every fight, especially at the betting window, there isn't much to talk about these days.
Not when it comes to her in-cage exploits.
Those headlines no longer sell, so the narrative shifted from Rousey the fighter to Rousey the celebrity. When you're a celebrity, the media (present company included) is required to follow your every move and report on it in the most sensational way possible.
I didn't come up with the rules, friends, I just follow them.
The way to get less Rousey is to get more Rousey; meaning, there is only so far you can sharpen a blade before it becomes dull. No doubt the Olympian remains in first place when it comes to the UFC popularity contest, but some of those far-off jeers are steadily growing louder.
A big win "Down Under," however, and she can still go out on a high note.
"Absence makes the heart grow fonder" and "you don't know what you've got until it's gone" and blabbity-blah-blah.
Rousey is disappearing for all the wrong reasons, but I have a feeling we will, in fact, miss her for all the right reasons. Not because she's a click magnet or gives us something to talk about on a slow news day, but rather because she's one of the greatest fighters in all of MMA.
I'm hoping a little time off will help us all remember that.