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The rise of Ronda Rousey tops the Glendale News-Press' Top 10 Sports Moments of 2012

Women's MMA superstar's popularity and success grew to never-before-seen heights in 2012.

December 29, 2012|By Grant Gordon, grant.gordon@latimes.com and Charles Rich charles.rich@latimes.com
  • Ronda Rousey, thanks to help from Glendale-based trainer Edmond Tarverdyan, climbed up the MMA ranks in 2012. (Tim Berger/Staff Photographer)
Ronda Rousey, thanks to help from Glendale-based trainer…

1) Glendale-trained Ronda Rousey takes titles and MMA world by storm — Much like her six professional bouts — which have never extended past the first round — the year 2012 was a whirlwind of success for “Rowdy” Ronda Rousey.

“She’s the biggest rising star in women’s mixed martial arts, if not the sport as a whole. Ronda Rousey’s rise has been meteoric,” wrote Sports Illustrated when it crowned Rousey’s rise as the No. 65 sports moment of the year.

Indeed, Rousey’s rise to stardom and becoming a full-fledged star in the burgeoning realm of MMA — and in the mainstream — has grabbed headlines in the Glendale News-Press and myriad other forms of media, big and small.

Viewed by many as the complete package of beauty, brawn and intelligence, Rousey’s year has been one characterized by landmarks for her career and that of the sport of women’s MMA.

“There’s a reason I do this, it fulfills me as a person,” Rousey, a 25-year-old former Olympic bronze medalist in judo, said in a December interview in Burbank. “The brighter the lights are, the better I see.”

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In between winning a Strikeforce championship in March and signing on as the first woman to fight in the Ultimate Fighting Championship before being crowned the organization’s first-ever women’s champion in November, Rousey’s roller-coaster ride of notoriety and prominence has had media of all kinds searching for superlatives and Rousey working overtime.

Tabbed “a rock star” by UFC President Dana White, Rousey, who trains under Edmond Tarverdyan at the Glendale Fighting Club along with at Team Hayastan in Hollywood, has made news over and over. She grabbed Internet buzz with controversial statements about Kim Kardashian being a bad role model and Olympian swimmer Michael Phelps being stand-offish with U.S. teammates. She had stories penned about her in Sports Illustrated, Esquire, Maxim and was on the cover of ESPN The Magazine’s “The Body Issue.” She guest-hosted an episode of TMZ, was a guest on “Conan” and Jim Rome’s Showtime talk show and rang the Nasdaq bell in New York City. She’s become a sex symbol and a sought-after sound byte, as her fan base has grown — her Twitter followers are right around 155,000 — and media attention and demand is never ending.

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