COMMENTARY | Time magazine on Wednesday bestowed its prestigious Person of the Year honor on Pope Francis.
While the World MMA Awards offers an MMA Personality of the Year category (its nominees were all announcers last year with Joe Rogan voted the winner), no major MMA outfit presently features an MMA Person of the Year category. My conscience is begging me to invent one, so I will. And the pick for my first-ever MMA Person of the Year is easy: Ronda Rousey.
Nothing that unfolds in the next three weeks will change my mind. Even if the classy, sassy and sexy magnet for controversy that is Ms. Rousey loses to Miesha Tate later this month. Even if still-unbeaten Chris Weidman topples greatest MMA fighter ever Anderson Silva for a second time later this month, meaning the Hofstra University grad will have shocked the world twice in one year - easily enough to earn my vote for 2013 Male Fighter of the Year. And Weidman, amazingly, beat Silva even after shoulder surgery and even after Hurricane Sandy completely sacked his house! Imagine that. It would indeed be a remarkable, legacy-defining year for Weidman if he proves that first win is owed to him being better than Silva, not Silva's foolish showboating. (For the record: I say Weidman wins the rematch, too. By finish. Maybe even spoils an Anderson Silva-Roy Jones., Jr. fight).
So Weidman has the potential to cement a monster year for himself. But as far as Person of Year goes it wouldn't come close to outdoing the trailblazing 2013 campaign of 26-year-old Rousey, whose star skyrocketed and transcended into mainstream consciousness while thrusting womens' MMA into the well-deserved spotlight right along with her. She is the main reason the UFC accelerated the addition of women's MMA under its banner. She put women's MMA on the map and is on her way to becoming one of the faces of girl power beyond the sports world.
Now, it goes without saying that Rousey is also deserving of the nod for 2013 Female Fighter of the Year. A number of publications such as the World MMA Awards (sponsored by Fighters Only magazine) offer a Female Fighter of The Year accolade. Rousey, the organization's 2012 winner, seems a lock to repeat.
And consider this: the UFC bantamweight women's champ has become a "rock star" (in the words of UFC president Dana White) despite a grand total of one fight inside the octagon. Crazy, right? The Dec. 28 showdown will mark only Rousey's second foray into the eight-sided cage. Feels like she's been fighting under the UFC umbrella for years, right? Nope.
Rousey's mind-blowing and historic 2013 embodies the fantasy of most fighters but the reality of the tiniest fraction.
A sample of Ms. Rousey's spectacular 2013:
1) A regular on the late-night talk show circuit.
2) Again graced the cover of ESPN The Mag.
3) Earned roles in marquee action movies "The Expendables 3" and "Fast & Furious 7."
4) Became a millionaire.
5) Ranked No. 29 on the Maxim Hot 100.
6) Made history (along with Tate) as the first females to ever head coach on The Ultimate Fighter.
7) Defended her title with a gutsy come-from-behind win against Liz Carmouche.
8) Ran her pro record to 7-0, all first-round finishes.
9) Solidified herself, along with Dana White, Chael Sonnen and Quinton "Rampage" Jackson," as one of the most entertaining and compelling interviews in the game.
10) Became a polarizing figure due to her blunt on-camera behavior in the presence of Miesha Tate. Some consider Rousey's antics akin to childhood petulance; others respect the courage of Rousey's extraordinary candor and find it entertaining and refreshing.
11) Fueled speculation that she will retire from MMA in the next two to three years after comments she made to MMAFighting.com.
So what do you think, who would you pick for MMA's 2013 Person of the Year and why?
Frank "Da Tank" Curreri, a world-class Brazilian Jiu Jitsu black belt with over 230 grappling wins in live competition, lives in Las Vegas and has been covering UFC for the past 11 years. He has worked for UFC and as a news journalist for the Las Vegas Review-Journal, The Salt Lake Tribune and a FOX news affiliate in Las Vegas.
- Martial Arts
- Sports & Recreation
- Ronda Rousey
- Anderson Silva