In a new SI interview with Jon Wertheim, UFC president Dana White discussed Ronda Rousey’s lasting influence on UFC and MMA.
Rousey, whom White and others have speculated is set to retire after her most recent loss in the cage, remains the sport’s biggest name most recognizable face, and formerly its most dominant fighter. White calls Rousey a great friend and was candid about her circumstances and the impact she had in building UFC into what it is.
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From the interview:
JW: So how’s this been for you?
DW: Ronda came into this sport and the only reason women fight here is because of Ronda Rousey. I did that initial meeting with her and I remember calling Lorenzo [Fertitta]: ‘I just met with that Ronda Rousey girl and I think I’m gonna do this!’
He said: 'What?! You’re gonna do women’s fighting?'
'I’m gonna f—ing do it. If this is even a possibility and can work, she’s the one. I’m gonna give it a shot.'
Everything she told me she would do, she did. She worked her ass off for this sport, for this company, for women. She worked herself to the bone. I’ve never had a fighter work [with publicity] the way she has. She’s made a lot of money. I know for her that doesn't matter—her legacy means more to her than anything else. But you know what, sometimes we can’t have it all. But let’s be clear: she built this house. She really did.
Read the full, wide-ranging interview with Dana White here.