Before there was UFC Women’s Bantamweight Champion Ronda Rousey, there was Gina Carano.
Gina Carano was one of the pioneers of women’s mixed martial arts. With her good looks, charismatic personality, and dangerous skills as a fighter, Carano quickly became the face of WMMA.
She remained undefeated for over two years by winning seven fights in a row. Then, her day of reckoning came. Carano faced off against Cristiane “Cyborg” Justino and was soundly defeated in the first round via technical knockout. Soon after, she shocked the MMA community by announcing her retirement.
When Carano retired, WMMA took a took a massive blow. She was the face of the sport, and then she abruptly left.
Today, Ronda Rousey is considered the face of WMMA. So when she announced that she was planning on retiring within a couple of years, many started to wonder if WMMA will suffer as bad as it did when Carano left.
In a recent interview with MMA Junkie, Rousey shared her thoughts on how Carano’s retirement affected the sport, and how she’s going to plan her eventual retirement as well.
“Everyone loved Gina and Gina really started all the interest in women’s MMA, and when she left, the entire sport detonated without her,” Rousey told MMAjunkie. “I never want to leave the sport in that state she had to when she left. I’ve really accomplished a lot at this point, and I’m starting to think about more than just the present moment and thinking more down the line and how I want to leave some sort of a legacy.”
“I really want there to be women’s MMA fights in the UFC 20 years from now and be able to sit there and just revel in what was created – the way I see Royce Gracie sitting front row to the UFC’s now,” Rousey said. “I want to really be able to sit and have that look of contentment and have that smile that I see Royce with when he’s at those events.”
That’s a lot of pressure to be put on one person, but Rousey seems undeterred in her resolve to become the Royce Gracie of Women’s MMA. And as for her retirement, she said she’ll walk away when she feels like there’s nothing else for her to contribute to the sport.
“I really still feel like that weight is still on my shoulders,” Rousey said. “When I feel like I don’t have that responsibility anymore, that’s when I’ll start thinking about stepping away.”