Strikeforce women’s bantamweight champion Ronda Rousey was in Las Vegas on Friday to ride along on a flight with the Thunderbirds at Nellis Air Force Base.
Yes, her title remains Strikeforce champion. At least for the moment.
Rousey refused to confirm a TMZ report that she has been named the first women’s champion in Ultimate Fighting Championship history as part of a dissolution of Strikeforce into its parent company, the UFC. The report also said Strikeforce will host a final event Jan. 12 before ceasing operations.
Officials with both organizations remain mum on the story, though Strikeforce has indeed announced an event featuring three champions defending belts, plus heavyweight star Daniel Cormier in action, in Oklahoma City on Jan. 12.
If Rousey’s sly way of handling questions about the subject Friday – as well as intimations made by those inside Zuffa headquarters and on Twitter – is any indication, the report appears to have credibility.
UFC president Dana White posted a simple smiley face on the social media site, a usual habit of his when good things happen for his company that he is not yet ready to talk about on the record.
Rousey was all smiles after completing her hourlong flight in the back seat of an F-16 over the Las Vegas skies, but played coy when asked about the story by a small group of reporters, several of whom were filming the conversation on cellphones.
“Come on, seriously?” she said. “If anything like that was ever going to be released, do you think they would do it through me on your iPhone in a hangar?”
The 25-year-old emerging superstar and Olympic judo medalist, whom White has repeatedly credited for his belief in the viability of a female division in the UFC, admitted the thought of being a part of the UFC was exciting.
That “seems totally cool,” Rousey said. “I would like it to be that way. I haven’t signed any bout agreements. I don’t know exactly what’s going on yet. I know just as much as everybody else knows right now.”
She then started shuffling around, performing what she called her “I don’t know dance” as questioning continued.
When asked if she had a “I know more but I can’t say anything right now dance,” she smiled and slightly altered her movements.
The UFC purchased Strikeforce in early 2011 and has continued to operate the brand.
Contact reporter Adam Hill at firstname.lastname@example.org or 702-224-5509. Follow him on Twitter: @adamhilllvrj.