COMMENTARY | Before her coaching stint on "The Ultimate Fighter," UFC women's bantamweight champion Ronda Rousey was a likable superstar who's sharp tongue, good looks and even sharper skills inside of the cage sent her celebrity soaring outside of the UFC. As a bona fide crossover star, Rousey has been an ambassador for women's MMA and when she was named to coach on the UFC reality show "The Ultimate Fighter" it appeared to be another move in the right direction for the growing legend of "Rowdy" Ronda Rousey.
It was all good when Rousey thought she was coaching opposite Cat Zingano. However, when Zingano was forced out of the show with an injury, and her replacement being none other than Rousey's arch nemesis Miesha Tate, things were expected to get dicey. If nothing else, it was to be entertaining television between two rivals who really don't like each other. But after several weeks, the rivalry has brought out the worst in Rousey and projected it into the homes of fans who are slowly changing their opinion on the queen of the armbar.
Her extreme intensity and competitive nature has translated on screen as a bit bratty and morphed into a battle of good vs. evil as Tate has been projected as the easygoing coach to Rousey's Bobby Knight-like demeanor. The resulting backlash has littered social media as her tears and animosity towards Tate have turned off Rousey fans. Once seen as a good-natured fighter with a ton of wit, now she's being seen as an "emotionally unstable" personality (as said by Tate to MMA Junkie).
The difficult part of all of this is trying to separate the real Ronda Rousey from the one who has been edited for television. In most cases, the camera captures who you are. The words that are said and the actions that are done belong to you. When Rousey and her striking coach Edmond Taverdyan confronted Tate and her boyfriend Bryan Caraway about Twitter comments from a year ago, it's difficult to hide their aggression. However, putting many of Rousey's actions into context after days of filming are boiled down to an hour show may see many things getting lost in translation. As we all know, reality shows aren't really "real," as they are often staged with some elements to create enticing television.
"From the fraction of the entire time I observed, it appeared that Ronda was taunted quite a bit without being allowed to respond, with a deliberate intent to create a certain image for television. Maybe they'll show some of that on the episode, maybe not."
While it is true that many shows create an image, it is also true that this image doesn't come from out of the blue. There had to have been some questionable personality traits that will have the curtain pulled back for the world to see. Rousey even went public stating that she was concerned with how she will be viewed once the show airs perhaps in an act of preemptively striking before the TUF debuted.
"How could people possibly know who you are from a couple of clips of a video that people are seeing out of context?" Rousey said to USA Today before the show aired. "That's no way for people to get to know you, so I'm just preparing for people to get the worst idea of who I am."
It is certainly as if Rousey knew her emotions may have gotten the best of her on camera and was bracing herself for the fallout. The reality is that Rousey is a unique personality that, when having a camera trained on her for endless hours, is sure to have a few bad days. She's the consummate competitor that takes everything she participates in very seriously. It's really not a game for her. But the problem with that is when someone like Tate gets the best of you and all of that angst spills out. Reality show producers live for those moments and will certainly milk it as much as they can. The best thing Rousey could do is clam up, but she's not that type of person.
Will Rousey lose some fans heading into her fight with Tate in December? Probably. But that's the risk you take when doing reality television and allowing a film crew cut and paste who you are and deliver it to just under a million homes. But backlash is inevitable when you are at the top of your game. Jon Jones has a ton of detractors who hate him. But they only hate him because he is as good as he is. The Dallas Cowboys, Los Angeles Lakers, Floyd Mayweather, LeBron James, Tiger Woods and a host of others are all exceptional in their respective sports but a good portion of the country harness a pitcher full of vitriol just because of the fact that they come from a winning culture. Everyone loves the underdog story.
Rousey is going to be hated because it comes with the territory of being a champion. The reality show just sped things up a little bit. She'll still have an abundance of fans who will cheer her on, she's just have to endure the boos that come along with it.
Andreas Hale is a former editor at websites including BET.com and HipHopDX.com. Today, he resides in the fight capital of the world and has covered boxing and MMA for mainstream media outlets such as MTV.com and Jay-Z's LifeandTimes.com, as well as die-hard outlets, including FightNews.com, Fight! Magazine, Ultimate MMA, CagePotato.com and others.
You can follow him on Twitter (@AndreasHale).
- Arts & Entertainment
- Ronda Rousey