MMA fighter Ronda Rousey dedicated her UFC 190 win against Bethe Correia to the late “Rowdy” Roddy Piper. The WWE legend, who died Thursday at the age of 61, was a major influence on her, and she had some touching words to send his way.
“I just want to say we lost a really close friend, ‘Rowdy’ Roddy Piper, who gave me permission to use his name as a fighter,” she said. “So I hope him and my dad had a good time watching this today.”
Piper trained under Gene LeBell, Rousey’s mentor who plucked her out of the Judo circuit as a rising star. When Rousey moved into the world of mixed martial arts, LeBell asked Piper if she could use his nickname, “Rowdy,” in the ring. With his blessing, she became “Rowdy” Ronda Rousey, and the rest is history.
Rousey heard the news of Piper’s death less than 24 hours before she weighed in for the UFC 190 match. During this mixed time of heavy emotion and high stress, the athlete wrote a brief but heartfelt tribute to Piper on Instagram. “Thank you for the name…and so much more,” she wrote. “Will do it justice and do you proud tomorrow… This one’s for you Roddy…”
She came through on her word. Rousey struck down Correia in a 34-second bout during the first round, and she ultimately maintained the batamweight championship belt. You can watch video of her tribute to Piper below.