Former UFC champion Ronda Rousey was inducted into the UFC Hall of Fame on Thursday, becoming the first female fighter to ever receive such an honor.
Rousey, who also made history by becoming the UFC’s first female champion, defended her title six times from 2012-2015 during her reign as Bantamweight champion.
According to ESPN, “[Rousey] won her first 12 professional mixed martial arts fights, including six in the UFC, all by submission, with 11 of the 12 fights ending in the first round. All but three of those fights were decided in under one minute, and Rousey owns records for four of the five fastest finishes in UFC women’s bantamweight history.”
“I am not the first person who had the ability to do this, but I am here because I am the first person you took the time to watch,” Rousey said during her induction speech. “That you put the energy into supporting. Because of you, I am the first woman standing up here accepting this incredible honor. May I be the first of many.”
Prior to Rousey’s arrival in 2011, UFC President Dana White had said that women would never compete in his company’s events. That all changed two years later when Rousey made her first appearance at UFC 157.
“In my almost 18 years as UFC president, I’ve learned many valuable lessons,” White said during Rousey’s presentation. “And the one that comes to mind tonight is never say never, especially when you’re talking to UFC. In my defense, when I famously said women would never fight in the UFC, I had never met Ronda Rousey. I had never met the woman who would change everything. She started by changing my mind and she ended up changing the world.”
As ESPN reports:
Rousey quickly became one of the sport’s biggest stars. She headlined her last four pay-per-view fights, with the final two drawing 1.1 million pay-per-view buys, and the one before that producing 900,000 buys. The only other UFC fighters to attract those numbers since 2014 are Conor McGregor and Brock Lesnar.
She was named the most dominant active athlete by multiple outlets in 2015, and an online ESPN poll during that time tabbed Rousey as the best female athlete ever. She also became a crossover celebrity during that time with supporting roles in the films “The Expendables 3,” “Furious 7” and “Entourage.”
Rousey was one of the biggest stars in the world and viewed as unbeatable, until her shocking second-round knockout loss to Holly Holmin front of 56,214 fans in Melbourne, Australia, on Nov. 15, 2015. She returned one year later but was knocked out again, this time just 48 seconds into the first round against Amanda Nunes at UFC 207 in Las Vegas on Dec. 30, 2016. Rousey has not competed in MMA since that loss. She signed with the WWE in January.
Rousey stressed her appreciation for the fans in her acceptance remarks.
“Every time I walked into that cage, I was hoping to make you proud,” Rousey told the audience. “We have had this incredible journey, and it was really an honor to be able to live it with you.”
Follow Dylan Gwinn on Twitter @themightygwinn