By Raphael Garcia
We've seen this before in mixed martial arts. Professional fighters become stars that are bigger than the sport can handle, and the other aspects of the entertainment world begin to demand their time. Stars such as Gina Carano, Randy Couture, and Quinton Jackson have been featured prominently in blockbuster movies. UFC Welterweight Champion Georges St. Pierre will soon be playing a super-villain in the next Captain America movie. And now, another name can be added to that list.
It was announced last Wednesday that UFC Women's Bantamweight Champion Ronda Rousey has been cast in The Expendables 3. For those that do not know, The Expendables is an action movie franchise starring Sylvester Stallone that is a tongue-in-cheek throwback to the old style of action movies with big choreographed fight scenes and even bigger explosions.
For some time now, Rousey has been looking to establish her brand on the big screen. She was recently linked with the major talent representation firm William Morris Endeavor, and was reportedly offered a role in the sequel to the highly popular Hunger Games.
Undoubtedly the face of women's mixed martial arts, and one of the biggest stars the UFC has to offer, Rousey has the potential to become the crossover attraction that the sport has needed since its inception. However, we've seen in the past that moving into movies hasn't had the greatest effect on an individual’s fighting career. Couture was nearing the end of his run as an active fighter when he started to appear in movies like The Scorpion King and the first Expendables movie, and Jackson looked to be marred in ring rust when he returned from filming The A-Team.
Although she is still booked to face Miesha Tate at UFC 168, and will be coaching against her on the upcoming season of The Ultimate Fighter, it will be interesting to see whether Rousey goes the same way as Gina Carano, and steps away from the sport permanently. While her love for fighting is very high, the allure of truly becoming a megastar and making the large paydays associated with movies could be more enticing. Looking back, Rousey was always upset about how she was never fairly compensated when she was an Olympic athlete, and if the entertainment world is willing to pay her more than the combat sports world, do not be surprised if she left earlier than expected.
At 26 years of age and only two years into her professional fighting career, Ronda Rousey has become more important to the sport than professional fighters who have been at the championship level far longer than that. With this high-profile movie role, she will be able to cash in on that star power, and perhaps open the door to more acting opportunities down the line. However, there is a chance that capitalizing on these opening doors will keep her outside of the Octagon door much longer than MMA fans would like. And in that arena, Rousey is far from expendable.
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