Ronda Rousey has ditched UFC for WWE — and adopted a new nickname.
Once the most dangerous woman in MMA, Rousey officially made the anticipated jump to WWE on Sunday night with a surprise appearance at the Royal Rumble in Philadelphia.
The former UFC bantamweight champion also told ESPN that she’s fully committed to wrestling and not just planning cameos at WWE’s biggest events.
“This is my life now. Yeah, they have first priority on my time for the next several years,” she said. “This is not a smash and grab, this is not a publicity stunt.”
Rousey borrowed the “Rowdy” nickname from WWE Hall of Famer “Rowdy” Roddy Piper. She wore a “Hot Ronda” shirt in the same style as Piper’s shirts to the ring Sunday at the Royal Rumble.
Rousey pointed to a sign for Wrestlemania — scheduled for New Orleans in April — as Joan Jett’s “Bad Reputation” blared through the arena.
Rousey smiled when Royal Rumble winner Asuka slapped her hand away on an offer for a handshake. Rousey left the ring and walked over to WWE executive and Royal Rumble commentator Stephanie McMahon. Rousey shook hands with McMahon and left without saying a word. She slapped hands with fans at ringside.
It’s unclear whether Rousey plans to fully give up on the UFC and mixed martial arts, and she would not commit to saying she’s retired when asked directly by ESPN.
“That’s what everybody else seems to say — I mean, I never retired from judo. So that’s what you guys want to think,” she said. “All I know is I really want to devote 100 percent of my time to wrestling right now and whatever people want to call that they can call it.”
UFC President Dana White said Rousey will never fight again for the company.