Walmart scuffle shows Rousey’s biggest fight is outside the octagon

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UFC women’s reigning bantamweight champion Ronda Rousey has waged war against the world’s worst company for refusing to sell her autobiography. And once again, she is winning.

By Andrew Pridgen

Ronda Rousey is a dichotomy in a sports bra and hand wraps. The embodiment of the awful truth that courses through her energy drink-soaked and tribal-tatted sport. And that is, there’s nothing for a once-in-a-generation female fighter to do long-term.

…Especially when large corporations like Walmart decide to cock block.

Her immediate predecessor Gina Carano had the face but not the athleticism, so she smartly eschewed her career’s apex in favor of temporary movie stardom—even becoming the object of Steven Soderbergh’s affection in the underloved but well-regarded Haywire.

Rousey too joins the film industry out of necessity, but hers is a different problem: her brand in the ring shrinks in time to a dearth of worthy competition. Like most crossover stars, she gets to play herself in summer blockbusters. She’s the man in the Entourage feature, a movie slightly less necessary than a Broadway version of Wahlburgers.

Thank god for the Expendables franchise.

But acting won’t be her permanent gig, unless my Kickstarter takes off for a Carano/Rousey vehicle about a kick-ass group of undercover female agents out winetasting in boots and sundresses one day when they get attacked by a human trafficking Asian Triad gang disguised as Hummer stretch limo drivers.

…Until then, Rousey’s not a star of the stage nor a pin up. She didn’t cut her teeth as stripper, showgirl, swimsuit model or pop singer. All she is is the apotheosis of today’s female athlete. Arguably, the two-time Olympian and bronze medal winner (2008) is stronger, braver, more accomplished in her sport than any active female on the court, ring or course this side of Serena.

And yet she has to make WWE WrestleMania appearances to make ends meet.

The bigger question is why would Walmart, purveyor of more shit to put in landfill by more squishy people than anything in the history of time, be banishing Rousey’s first published offering from its shelves in the first place?

A store spokesman inferred the content is too violent to stock in its lovely marsh-killing giant boxes which is ironic since the following items are currently ready for site-to-store pickup: This lovely Colt LE6920 Carbine Semi-Auto Rifle, this incredible deluxe Red Dragon Katana Samurai Sword Set, an unrated/directors cut copy of Natural Born Killers and a book called American Extremists: Militias, Supremacists, Klansmen, Communists & Others (“others” surely being Democrats in this case).

Side note: Do not click through the above in succession unless you want Morgan Freeman and Brad Pitt to track you and your creepy meticulous journals down.  

Rousey’s autobiography, My Fight/Your Fight slated for release in May probably won’t have a line as good as The Boz’s: “Debbie Gibson: I’d let her touch me”; though it should have some pithy insight into what it took for the 28-year-old Riverside native to scratch her way from Judo prodigy to world champion to SI Swimsuit model, all while maintaining strength, stamina and a competitor’s scowl.

Is Walmart then actually afraid of a powerful female figure? Are they scared of getting chick’d?

Abo-friggin-lutely.

Rousey’s Instagram response to the blue box behemoth: “‘Success is the best revenge’ one of many lessons I learned from fighting that helped me fight through life’s battles off the mat and outside the octagon. @walmart is welcome to watch the success of this publication from the sidelines if they choose.”

Rousey may have been placed on this planet a generation too soon. The conundrum of being a woman who dominates in a male-dominated sport and aesthetic is something marketers perceive the general public may not be ready for.

That’s bullshit. She’s the most technically sound fighter of her generation, either gender, and yet, it’s the bikini pix that get the hits and keep her in the conversation.

In a strange juxtaposition that mirrors the porn industry, many of the UFC Ogtagon girls (their version of boxing’s ring girls) get paid more than many male fighters, Rousey too is better compensated than her male contemporaries. Her defeat of Cat Zingano on Feb. 28 in a 14-second no-brainer was the third-highest-rated tilt in FOX Sports 1. Second-highest, you guessed it, Rousey vs. Miesha Tate. Two of the top-three, not bad…for a sport whose fanbase is 79 percent male (which could also explain some of her ratings pull).

 

Rousey knows her career is finite in the octagon. She’s already retired once (at 21) from the mat. And the pursuit of a less brutal way to earn a living seems imminent as the sport’s mainstream appeal is waning.

She took the brunt of the physical and psychological risk to show women could be calculating, dominating and careerist, unapologetically so. Rousey’s taking on Walmart this week is an extension of that philosophy.

As she ages and her skills deteriorate and looks fade, she’ll be remembered as the progression of women in sport from this generation.

Too bad Walmart, like so many of Rousey’s opponents before them, wasn’t ready.

 

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