Former UFC champion Ronda Rousey announced she is joining the WWE by making a dramatic appearance at the pay-per-view Royal Rumble.
The mixed martial arts fighter surprised the crowd at the end of the first ever women’s Royal Rumble, won by Asuka.
“This is my life now,” she told ESPN after appearing in the ring.
Ronda Rousey will return to pro-wrestling for WWE´s WrestleMania (John Locher/AP)
“First priority on my timeline for the next several years. This is not a smash-and-grab; this is not a publicity stunt.”
There is little information on the deal between Rousey and the WWE, but reports suggest she has signed a full-time contract.
Rousey’s switch to wrestling comes after she was defeated in her last two UFC bouts – Amanda Nunes knocked her out in just 48 seconds in 2016, and she lost to Holly Holm in 2015.
A longtime fan of the WWE, “Rowdy” Ronda Rousey takes her nickname from WWE superstar Roddy Piper, who granted her permission to use the name.
She came out on Sunday night wearing the late Rowdy Roddy’s leather jacket, which was given to her by the Canadian pro-wrestler’s son.
“I’m just so incredibly lucky,” she told a WWE reporter, “I’m aware of it, I’m very aware of it.
“This has been a dream of mine since before I could talk.”
Joining Royal Rumble winner Asuka, Charlotte Flair and Alexa Bliss in the ring, the former UFC bantamweight champion said little to her fellow wrestlers before pointing at the WrestleMania sign above her, hinting at when she would make her WWE debut.
Performing in the WWE should not be too much of a stretch for Rousey, who had roles in The Expendables 3, Furious 7 and the Entourage film.
She began her career in judo, winning a bronze medal at the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games.
At just 21 she retired from the sport and entered the world of mixed martial arts, becoming the first female fighter signed with the UFC in 2012.
She defended her bantamweight champion belt six times before her losses to Holm and then Nunes.
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