Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) President Dana White repeatedly told the combat sports media that former women’s bantamweight champion and female fighting pioneer Ronda Rousey was the biggest star to ever step foot inside the Octagon.
Bigger than Conor McGregor, even in defeat.
But while “Rowdy” is likely the reason women’s mixed martial arts (MMA) exists in today’s UFC, her contributions to the evolution of cage fighting were not enough to earn her a spot on White’s “Mount Rushmore of MMA.”
“If you’re talking about a Mount Rushmore where the heads are carved in stone forever, you have to go Royce Gracie. No-brainer, have to do that,” White told The Schmozone (transcribed by MMA Fighting). “Amanda Nunes. Has to be Amanda Nunes, greatest female fighter ever. The other two are tough.”
No disrespect to Nunes, who torched Rousey — as well as Miesha Tate, Holly Holm, and Cris Cyborg to cement her place as the most devastating female fighter in the history of UFC, but her pay-per-view (PPV) numbers are embarrassingly bad and her pop culture footprint is non-existent.
That may not be relevant when picking the greatest fighters of all time, but we’re talking about Mount Rushmore. Master carver Gutzon Borglum chose four presidents who “commemorate the founding, growth, preservation, and development to the United States of America.”
Using that criteria, it’s hard to give Nunes the nod over Rousey, who is the reason UFC has women’s MMA in the first place.
“I would have to go with Jon Jones,” White said about the third spot. “The guy’s never been beat and what’s more amazing about him going undefeated — which is incredibly amazing because very few people do it in the sport — is the things that he’s done to himself outside of the Octagon and he still hasn’t been beat.”
Jones made his debut at UFC 87: “Seek & Destroy” and for the next 12 years did exactly that, making a mockery of the competition along the way. Watching a young “Bones” saw his way through legends like Shogun Rua and Rampage Jackson was astonishing.
“Number four on the Mount Rushmore, I guess you’d have to go with Chuck Liddell,” White said. “At that point in time, he was as big a star as ever. It’s almost a coin flip between Chuck Liddell and Forrest Griffin and they’re both from the same show, the first season of The Ultimate Fighter. Chuck became a massive star, was the highest paid guy in the company at the time and all that stuff.”
Former champions Anderson Silva and Georges St-Pierre were honorable mentions.