Amid the stir Ronda Rousey caused with her outspoken persona and title-winning fight against Miesha Tate, UFC president Dana White recently wondered whether she would become the Lucia Rijker of MMA – a dominant champ on a too-small stage.
As Rousey prepares for her first title defense, Rijker can now weigh in on that question.
Rousey manager Darin Harvey today told MMAjunkie.com (www.mmajunkie.com
) that the Strikeforce women's bantamweight champion has enlisted the famed kickboxer and boxer as a coach.
Rousey (5-0 MMA, 3-0 SF) meets Sarah Kaufman (15-1 MMA, 6-1 SF) at "Strikeforce: Rousey vs. Kaufman," which takes place Aug. 18 at Valley View Casino Center in San Diego. The event's main card airs live on Showtime while preliminary-card fights air on Showtime Extreme.
The undefeated Rousey has yet to make the same impression with her striking as with the judo that not only won her a bronze medal at the 2008 Olympics, but bested eight amateur and pro opponents via first-round armbar. In March, she captured the Strikeforce title by brutally submitting Tate.
White has lavished praise on Rousey while pondering whether there are enough credible opponents to challenge her in the Zuffa-owned promotion.
"She's a rock star," White said prior to May's UFC on FOX 3. "She's been killing it for us. I just hope that we can get some really good fights for her."
Kaufman promises, at minimum, to test the champ's striking skills. The hard-charging former champ comes into the bout on a three-fight win streak following a loss to Marloes Coenen in October 2010. She bested Megumi Yabushita, Liz Carmouche and Alexis Davis to earn the title shot.
The now-retired Rijker, 44, amassed a 17-0 professional record as a boxer and a 36-0 record as a kickboxer, winning six world titles in the process.
Back in her native Los Angeles after a stint with the Cesar Gracie Fight Team in Stockton, Calif., Rousey also is training at Team Hayastan in North Hollywood and Glendale Fighting Club.
Although White is invested in the current women's champ, he is less than optimistic about her long-term viability.
"Unfortunately, I think she's is going to be the Lucia Rijker of MMA," he said. "She's the female boxer that was really the best in the world. You heard of Christie Martin and Laila Ali and all these other people, (and) they wouldn't fight her. Nobody wanted to fight Lucia Rijker. She was sparring with guys. She was probably the best female boxer ever, and nobody knows who the hell she is."