Ronda Rousey, who is “always extremely happy with how [she’s] been treated” by the UFC, nonetheless doesn’t think ring girls should make more than fighters. Arianny Celeste is a ring girl.
In a 2012 interview with Maxim, Rousey mused about one day topping Celeste on the magazine’s “Hot 100” list, saying, “She’s only getting older, and I’m reaching my prime.” And in February 2014, Celeste finally appeared to answer, “I don’t really like the way she carries herself, I don’t think she’s a good role model for women. I think that women should empower each other and give each other a little pat on the back.” Rousey answered, “Does it take her a year to come up with a comeback?”
But this isn’t about some silly squabble between Celeste and Rousey, it’s about plain economic fairness. Rousey explained, “. . . I don’t know if the ring girls get paid too much or the fighters don’t get paid enough. But yeah. There’s definitely a lot more in what the fighters do than what they do. So, I think that’s one thing that’s unfair.”
Of course, Celeste is a UFC mainstay, one of the most recognizable aesthetic presences in the sport, given her appearances at just about every event. That might bother you, but it’s true. Unlike a rising welterweight, for instance, she cannot lose to a better ring card opponent on any given Saturday night, then find a prematurely shredded 8-fight contract in the bottom of her UFC locker. Even a natural, post-WEC Brittney Palmer couldn’t dethrone the Queen of the Octagon. And so, Arianny can ultimately be regarded as a softer Mike Goldberg. Whether you value her skills or not, her seeming career immortality has to count for something.
The hard truth is that a ring card girl’s career has more potential for longevity than the average fighter’s. Even Rousey will probably experience a competitive decline eventually. And in the meantime, Arianny may be hobbling around like a 57-year-old Vanna White, accumulating cost of living pay raises as her mounting seniority becomes truly senior.