Ronda Rousey and “Rowdy” Roddy Piper had a bond, a mutual respect that was cemented when, just before Rousey stepped into the ring for her first amateur MMA fight, she asked the WWE Hall of Famer if she could use his iconic nickname for herself.
Piper agreed, and ever since, Rousey has been one of the toughest MMA fighters, male or female, in the world. When TMZ broke the news Friday that Piper had died at the age of 61 from a cardiac arrest, it’s not surprising that Rousey, who’s scheduled to fight Bethe Correia on Saturday night in Brazil, took the news to heart.
She posted this Friday night on Instagram.
Here’s what Piper remembered about their first meeting. As he told Vice in 2014, “Ronda and [“Judo” Gene Lebell, who trained Piper and is Rousey’s uncle] called me. She was so, so excited and so beautiful, saying, ‘Would you mind? I’ll make you proud and I’m giving it everything you got.’ And I said, ‘You go, gal. You go!’
“Somebody asked me, ‘What would you think if ‘Rowdy’ Ronda Rousey would become the face of the UFC?’ I said I think it would be great. I think it would be a really great thing.”
Like many wrestling fans, Rousey is mourning the loss of one of professional wrestling’s greatest characters. Piper headlined the first Wrestlemania and had fantastic feuds with Hulk Hogan, Jimmy “Superfly” Snuka, Mr. T., and “Ravishing” Rick Rude.
Like Dusty Rhodes, who died in June, Piper was a legend, and though he never won a WWE world heavyweight title, his legacy won’t soon be forgotten. By any wrestling fan who remembers the 1980s or by Rousey, who told the story of how she got her nickname with Jimmy Kimmel last November.
Screengrab via WWE/YouTube