WASHINGTON — WWE wrestling rings have only half the sides of the UFC octagons, but Ronda Rousey looked perfectly at home on Sunday night in her surprise debut during the WWE pay-per-view Royal Rumble.
While she did not compete and had almost nothing to say, Rousey got some pop from the crowd, entering the ring and pointing emphatically at the Wrestlemania sign that hung high over the crowd:
It was treated like breaking news by the on-air announcers, but Rousey has reportedly signed a full-time contract to wrestle with the organization:
ESPN’s Romona Shelburne followed up the report with this nugget that will please long-time wrestling fans:
Rousey’s career as professional mixed-martial arts fighter had taken a nosedive since her meteoric rise in UFC. She first got on the map with a bronze medal in judo at the 2008 Olympic Games and parlayed that into a contract with Strikeforce before joining UFC.
She won her first 12 professional fights, 11 in the first round and nine by armbar submission. She leveraged that success for monster paydays with the UFC, as well as appearing in three blockbuster movies and a cameo at Wrestlemania 31.
A long-time fan of wrestling, Rousey has a warm relationship with the family of “Rowdy” Roddy Piper, with whom she shares a nickname. A long-time fan of wrestling, she said in a 2014 interview with WWE.com of the possibility of crossing over into pro wrestling, “You never know.”
Rousey last fought in an MMA bout in December 30, 2016. She had not fought for more than a year but lasted just 48 seconds before knockout at the hands of Amanda Nunes. It is unclear when she made the decision to pursue a wrestling career, and where she is in her training or preparation.
Two things that are certain: Rousey will have an ongoing storyline between now and Wrestlemania 34, and she will bring a different style to the WWE’s Divas field.