Strikeforce women's bantamweight champ Ronda Rousey confirmed on June 27 that she posed "artistically nude" for the July issue of ESPN The Magazine's "Body Issue."
"Hey so …. Espn body issue….. If anyone wants to see me 'artistically nude' I suggest you grab a copy when it's revealed on July 13th," Rousey posted from her official Twitter handle @rondarousey.
It will be the fourth installment of "The Body Issue," which in the past has featured MMA fighters like Jon Jones and Cyborg Santos.
ESPN says they come out with these issues to "stop to admire the vast potential of the human form. To unapologetically stand in awe of the athletes who've pushed their physiques to profound frontiers. To imagine how it would feel to inhabit those bodies, to leap and punch and throw like a god. To ... well, gawk."
At least ESPN admits the last part, knowing full well that people are willing to shell out their hard-earned cash to buy these issues for the simple reason that they are curious to see what their favorite athletes look like in the nude.
Sex sells. Who woulda thunk it?
While Rousey is easily one of the most attractive female fighters in the game today, my concern is that this photo shoot will make the casual sports fan think of women's MMA as a gimmick like the Lingerie Football League.
Rousey, a former Olympian, has a whole lot of talent behind her gorgeous physique, but I can't help but feel that many sports fans are going to discover her through "The Body Issue" and not take her seriously as a fighter.
Rousey is an elite submission expert who can stop just about anyone in the game with her devastating armbar technique. I would like for her to be recognized for her achievements in the octagon, rather than just her supermodel good looks.
I can't rip Rousey for agreeing to do the shoot, as it will undoubtedly raise her profile and help her sell more PPVs. She's one of the best trash-talkers in the sport, and her business-savvy is second to none. Rousey is the perfect storm of talent, personality and good looks. I just hope the rest of the world finds out what she's all about.
If you're going to pose nude and still come across as classy, it might as well be for ESPN. Unlike Maxim, Playboy and Hustler, ESPN doesn't typically feature scantily-dressed women in semi-nude pictorial spreads. ESPN is trying to depict strong athletic physiques for artistic purposes, while Maxim, for instance, often features photo spreads that attempt to be sexy in nature.
Is it good for the sport of women's MMA that some of its top fighters market themselves more like supermodels than athletes?
At least one prominent female MMA star seems to have taken a major stance against it.
Former Strikeforce champ Marloes Coenen said in an interview with Full Contact Fighter that "I've got a little niece who is 3 years old. When I am done fighting and when she's older, I want her to be proud of who I am and what I did. Therefore, I will not pull my pants off and show my a** in a thong to the camera."
Coenen makes a great point, but she can't deny that Rousey's popularity has gone through the roof due to her ridiculous marketability. Rousey has to do whatever it takes to sell tickets and build her brand, as she fights for a living and needs to earn as much money as possible while she's still in her prime.
Some would say that Rousey's appearance in "The Body Issue" makes women's MMA look gimmicky, while others would argue that it will only help to raise the profile of the sport.
Is it good for women's MMA that Rousey posed nude for "The Body Issue"? Let me know in the comments.
Eric Holden is a lifelong MMA fan. Follow him on Twitter @ericholden.
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