You may or may not have heard of her, but undefeated mixed martial arts fighter Ronda Rousey is making headlines lately.
The 28 year-old, 5’7″, Californian is best known for her Judo move called “juji gatame” which is a form of “arm bar” used in MMA that is designed to hyper extend the opponents elbow, stretching ligaments, tearing the articular capsule, and grinding away the bone if the opponent doesn’t submit quickly enough. So far she has fought in twelve matches and won them all. Three by knock-out, and 9 by submission. All twelve matches’ times combined add up to less than two minutes. In November of 2012 the Ultimate Fighting Championship announced that Ronda had become the first female and Bantam weight champion to sign with them.
While I personally don’t intentionally watch boxing, wrestling, MMA or UFC fights, there was an article that happened to come across my news feed that aroused my interest in Ronda. Hilary Weaver for Bustle.com wrote an article about Rousey’s feminism and best quotes, which I loved, but then I came across this one from Business Insider “Could female UFC champion Ronda Rousey beat Floyd Mayweather?”
Now, if you aren’t sure who Floyd is, here is a little background information: At 38 years old and 5’8″/151 lbs, the Michigan native and light middleweight boxer has accumulated 48 wins out of a total of 48 boxing matches in his career, with 26 won by knockout. Sadly, he is also known for his domestic violence with multiple women in his life; starting in 2001, Mayweather received a suspended six-month jail sentence after pleading guilty to two counts of assault against the mother of his daughter, Melissa Brim. Then, in 2003 he was found guilty of battery for hitting two female friends of Josie Harris, the mother of three of his children; and then in 2005, he was charged with felony battery against Harris, until she recanted her statement and Mayweather was found not guilty. In 2010, he was arrested again for assault against Harris and pleaded guilty, serving two months in prison. Some might say that supporting Mayweather as a professional boxer is supporting his need to fight outside of the ring, while others might say that you have to separate Floyd the Fighter from Floyd the Person in order to enjoy this increasingly niche sport.
Now, let’s put Ronda “Rowdy” Rousey in the ring with Floyd “Money” Mayweather. According to Business Insider, it would be either very close, or Ronda might win if she avoided a knockout, but why do we promote this theory? According to a quote from her acceptance speech at the ESPY’s last month, Ronda said, “I wonder how Floyd feels being beat by a woman for once,” in reference to his domestic abuse and her ESPY victory. There have been more comments back and forth between them, but the facts are clear. It isn’t a secret that violence in sports also ends up outside of the ring or the stadium, and whose voice is going to be heard more clearly than a fellow athlete, and in this case, one who happens to be the most popular female and MMA fighter in our media right now.
Maybe Rousey would beat Mayweather in a “no rules” mixed martial arts match, but we shouldn’t have to come up with a hypothetical scenario to seek justice against domestic violence. Mayweather has in no way paid for his crimes, including what’s called “rabbit punching” the mother of his three children, Josie Harris, a move that is banned in all major combat sports because of the serious danger involved. He was charged with multiple offenses that would normally send a regular person to prison for 34 years, and instead he “copped a plea to misdemeanor domestic assault and harassment charges.” Only having to serve 90 days in jail, he was released after two months for good behavior.
Meanwhile, the sports media, and fans have been surprisingly accepting of this behavior, possibly because of the entertainment that he brings and the millions of dollars made from his fights. But for those of us, like myself, who are unaware of the repulsive, abusive, misogynistic behavior of these celebrities, it might just take the right voice, like Ronda’s, to say just one thing that makes us think and question to whom and for what reason we are giving all of our hard earned money. Hopefully the sports industry will see that if we discontinue the support of these abusive athletes, that we don’t accept their lifestyle outside of their sport, especially if they use what they are paid for to abuse the mothers of their children, and in front of them as well. It’s a sad day when we seek justice for women through a match between a female MMA fighter and a professional boxer, instead of getting it through the justice system.