There is mystery to a state of flawlessness, intrigue to a condition free of all defects.
There is something special about it — 0 – on the right side of one’s record.
Combat sports, perhaps more than all others, celebrates and vilifies undefeated champions.
You either love or hate those with perfect resumes, but almost always follow them.
It’s the Floyd Mayweather Jr. theory: You open a wallet for those pay-per-view fees to either enjoy another victory or pray for his initial defeat, sentiments that only grow stronger on each side as Mayweather’s ledger becomes more and more impeccable.
“I wouldn’t go as far as to say I have Mayweather swag,” Ronda Rousey said. “I’m flattered someone would think so, but that takes many, many years of domination. When I get to be 46-0 like him, I might have that kind of swag.”
Let’s hope she does.
Or at least gets to 10-0.
All sorts of crazy: There is a feeling among some that the Ultimate Fighting Championship would be better off if Rousey lost, if one of the sport’s biggest upsets in history would occur tonight when she opposes Alexis Davis in a co-main event bantamweight bout at UFC 175 inside Mandalay Bay Events Center.
It is a short-sided view for the present that mistakenly disregards what a future without an unbeaten Rousey would resemble. The marketing machine that can be the UFC with one of its prized fighters delivered Rousey to the mainstream faster than anyone else in the organization’s history.
It has been riding her to the bank ever since.
She is a crossover star, as capable of handling a movie role or sweet-talking a late-night TV host as she is submitting yet another overmatched opponent.
Make no mistake: The UFC is much better off with Rousey undefeated.
For interest. For drama.
Mostly, for business.
“Her losing definitely doesn’t need to happen right now,” said Urijah Faber, the former World Extreme Cagefighting featherweight champion who engages Alex Caceres in a bantamweight bout tonight as part of the preliminary card. “Maybe years down the road. Rousey is one of those champions that has so much momentum going and is doing so much for the sport, it makes sense to have her undefeated. She hasn’t had that many fights. She’s only 9-0.
“It’s about building confidence. To be a champion, you have to believe no one in the world can beat you up. Each time you win, that feeling is reassured within you and everyone else. It’s the wrong mentality to have any champion worried about losing.”
Said middleweight champion Chris Weidman, who defends his title against Lyoto Machida tonight in the main event: “For Rousey, she has to keep winning, keep winning, keep winning.”
Rousey is as confident as she is talented, hardly thinking Davis or anyone else has even the slightest chance to derail what is a money-making train that, more than anyone else, UFC president Dana White pointed down the tracks the minute he handed her the 135-pound division title.
She can travel between arrogant and likable with the ease of someone who will make her third title defense in three months tonight, who has finished all but one fight via armbar, who has bridged the gender gap within mixed martial arts as well as anyone else.
The argument some make in favor of her losing goes like this: Rousey has a chance to become boring sooner than later, that much like light heavyweight champion Jon Jones before being pushed by Alexander Gustafsson at UFC 165, dominance can quickly turn those paying to apathetic spectators no longer willing to shell out money to watch.
That you can’t have just one drawing card in a division and expect the curiosity to last.
Actually, you can.
“Ronda has definitely been good for the sport, you can’t deny that,” Davis said. “She has brought a lot of positive attention to the UFC, inside and out of the fighting. And I can see why some would think having an (undefeated women’s champion) is important. But I also see the side where new blood, a new face, sort of changing things up, would interest a lot of people.”
I don’t see it. Not with a female fighter. Not with so much power thrown behind the Rousey brand. She is an easy sell right now, her appeal outside the octagon and her superiority inside it making for the perfect draw.
That would change if she lost. There is nothing like the “0” on the right side of a record.
Nothing like the mystery and intrigue and excitement it creates.
“I don’t think it’s good to have a championship constantly circulating all the time,” Rousey said. “Being dominant is good. People can make storylines out of anything they want. There is no place (in fighting) where anyone is better than me. I think that’s the attitude you need to have, and I don’t know why so many people are offended by it.”
I don’t know why anyone would think her losing is a good thing for the UFC.
Las Vegas Review-Journal sports columnist Ed Graney can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 702-383-4618. He can be heard from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Monday through Friday on “Gridlock,” ESPN 1100 and 98.9 FM. Follow him on Twitter: @edgraney.