Ronda Rousey Defends WWE Decision to Keep Crown Jewel in Saudi Arabia

TMZ cameras caught up with Raw Women’s Champion Ronda Rousey this week ahead of her highly anticipated title defense at Sunday’s historic WWE Evolution pay-per-view.

As per usual, the “Rowdy” former UFC icon pulled no punches and spoke candidly on a number of subjects, including Evolution, her rivalry with Nikki Bella, but most interestingly the current controversy surrounding WWE’s upcoming Crown Jewel event in Saudi Arabia.

Check out our transcripts of the interview below, and the full video below that.


“WWE is social commentary for the whole world. I think that the women’s evolution in WWE is a reflection of the revolution happening around the world. This is a really pivotal time for culture in general. Fingers crossed that [WWE Evolution] is a huge success.”

“This is a great way for the women to prove that we’re not a charity case. We’re a huge part of the company. We’re a huge pull in all sports in general. It’s so great to live in a time where women are headlining PPVs. People forgot how recently it was so different. Hopefully this is just the beginning, and we’ll be remembering this event forever as a first.”


“In a hypothetical world, if me and Nikki were to go on a ‘friend date’ again I would probably want to go somewhere where my back wasn’t exposed. I think we’re a little far away from that, but sometimes people that I’m the closest bonded to are people that I’ve beaten the hell out of. So maybe. Maybe we could be really good friends after this! [laughs]”


“I’m a two-time Olympian, so I’m an idealist when it comes to sport. One of my favorite memories from the 2004 Olympics was – I was in the gym, on the treadmill and cutting weight. Right next to me was a boxer from Iraq, running next to me. It was the beginning of the Iraq War, and nowhere else in the world would some man from Iraq and a little girl from Venice Beach be respecting each other and sharing space.”

“I think sports is where we find that common ground with each other. I think pulling out of Crown Jewel would be the wrong move. This is an opportunity to share our cultures and to find what we have in common. Especially in times of adversity between two countries – that’s the absolute wrong time to pull away. That’s the time for us to find what we have in common and understand each other more.”

“It seems almost frivolous; a WWE event [compared to]these huge world issues, but in a world where we’re always trying to look at it as ‘Us and Them’, I think those big events like Crown Jewel makes us realize it’s an “Us” all around. I think that having these events and sharing our culture in Saudi Arabia is the first step to understanding each other, and finding that common ground.”

“This is a great opportunity to have people from Saudi Arabia loving a part of American culture. WWE is a part of that American culture that they are inviting in and embracing. You have these kids from Saudi Arabia that are idolizing people from America and all these different countries. Maybe you’ll see people from Saudi Arabia going into the WWE, and then kids from America idolizing those people.”

“I think it’s just a great way for us to share something and understand each other. That should be the goal. ‘An eye for an eye leaves the whole world blind.’ We need to be able to send out – I just believe that sports and sports entertainment is something we all have in common. We love to compete, we love to have fun, we love to laugh and watch shows. I wouldn’t want to pull our culture away from theirs at a time where it’s very difficult for people to understand each other. The more we can share the better.”

“If WWE becomes big in Saudi Arabia, and WWE is a company that’s having all-women’s PPVs – if you have the WWE Network you can see Evolution and Crown Jewel. If you have the all-men’s PPV you have access to the all-women’s PPV. It’s exposing people to all the different things that our culture has to offer.”

“Yeah, the women can’t compete in Saudi Arabia right now, but if Crown Jewel is a huge success, and WWE really takes off in Saudi Arabia, I really think they are going to be demanding to see women soon.”

“It’s a touchy subject. My sister is a journalist. I’m trying my best, and everybody is trying their best. The best WWE can do is trying to be the change that you want to see in the world, and to share this piece of American culture with everyone.”

[If you use any of these quotes please credit TMZ with a shout-out to for the transcriptions.]

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