Ronda Rousey was once regarded as the most dominant UFC fighter and without a doubt the best female mixed martial artist the Octagon had ever seen. Her untouchable persona and impeccable record were all wiped away with a shocking defeat by the hands of Holly Holm at UFC 193, however.
Since then, there has been light talk of a Rousey comeback. Fans and UFC experts alike are clamoring over her next potential fight, whether or not she can reclaim her bantamweight title and if she can once again be that dominant force.
Those are tough questions to answer, especially with Rousey openly admitting how much of a blow that loss delivered to her confidence. A subsequent knee surgery has delayed comeback talks, too, with UFC head man Dana White suggesting a Rousey return probably won’t happen until 2017.
Her confidence shaken and a knee injury also in her way, it’s becoming increasingly fair to wonder if the elite fighter we once saw rip off a 12-0 start to her career is gone forever.
No one wants to admit it, but there is plenty of logic to support the idea: Ronda Rousey will never win again.
Even the most casual MMA observer would have to think Rousey’s confidence took a hit when she lost her first fight ever, but when it comes from Rowdy herself, there’s no getting around it.
There was certainly no hiding when Rousey laid it all out for everyone to see in an interview on the Ellen Degeneres show – a spot where she admitted she thought about ending it all:
By the time Rousey fights again these words could be long forgotten. She will have trained rigorously, she’ll be 100% healthy and there is no denying she will want to go on a tear to avenge her surprise loss.
The fact that her image was shattered and her confidence was broken suggests that could be easier said than done, though. Rousey was defeated in every sense of the word and while her vulnerability showed she was merely human, it also may have given us an inside look at an unbeatable fighter that officially lost her edge.
Even if Rousey comes back with a vengeance, there is still a very good chance she doesn’t win in the Octagon ever again. One huge reason? The level of competition is ridiculous.
If she gets a crack at the women’s bantamweight title belt immediately, like Dana White contests she will, she’ll undoubtedly be facing a very good fighter.
Amanda Nunes, Miesha Tate, Cat Zingano, Cyborg Justino or Holly Holm could await Rousey by the time she’s ready to return, and all have the talent and physicality to notch the win.
The perfect 12-0 Rousey would have gone into a meeting with any of these fighters as the clear, heavy favorite. However, once rattled and no longer unbeaten, UFC bettors will have to factor in the clear possibility that she isn’t invincible.
Perfect No More
The mere fact that Rousey has finally lost takes away a lot of her allure, and also could suggest a steep downward decline from here on out. Fighters tend to get their first loss out of the way early, but if it comes after a hot run, their records following that first loss tend to be lacking.
That’s a very real issue Rousey may have to face. There has always been a target on her back, but before losing to Holm, she was as feared as any fighter in history. Her opposition would never admit it, but many were probably afraid to get in the Octagon with her, and even if they weren’t, they likely did not feel overly confident that their match would end with them being victorious.
Rousey is now 12-1 and doesn’t seem nearly as untouchable, which could make it increasingly difficult for her to go on the wild tear she enjoyed to begin her career.
Rousey is an elite MMA fighter and there is genuinely no questioning it. There is questioning, however, her commitment to the sport. Her long time away after losing to Holm is perfect evidence that she may not be totally dialed in to being the best champion she could possibly be.
Rousey even admitted she may have been taking on more fights at a rapid pace than she could probably handle, while her slate was full of appearances, interviews, commercials and movies.
Now more of a celebrity than an elite fighter, there is the very real fear that Rousey is going down the path of Gina Carano. Much like Rousey, Carano ripped through the MMA scene and looked like one of the best fighters in the world en route to an impressive 7-0 mark.
She would suffer her first and only loss by the hands of Cyborg Justino in 2009, however, and never fought again. Eventually Carano went on to establish a movie career and hasn’t seriously considered a return to this point.
Rousey doesn’t seem to be done just yet, but she’s already following a similar career arc and has admitted in the past she doesn’t want to be fighting far past the age of 30.
Flaws to Her Game
You can go either way on some of this. Rousey could still be focused and extremely determined, she could still be better than all of the competition that awaits her and she could block out any and all distractions to accomplish her goal of reclaiming her title.
Perhaps, but that still doesn’t take away here obvious fighting flaws. As dominant as she was during her 12-0 run, Rousey was still sloppy at times, seemed to luck into submissions and in her lone defeat, looked absolutely lost as she tried to stand up and strike with a former kickboxer.
That questions her training, too, as Rousey should have never engaged Holly Holm in striking and unless she had the perfect crease to take Holm down with strikes or a submission, she should have been much more on the defensive.
And that’s just Holm. Another date with Tate or Zingano could go the other way, the vicious Nunes could be too much to handle and the uber hyped showdown with Cyborg could easily expose Rousey for good.
Rousey grew to be overly infatuated with earning a fast win, living up to her dominant legacy and being the star fighter everyone else thought she was. When that finally didn’t go her way, she looked absolutely lost and crumbled.
As fans of the UFC and Rousey, we hope we’re wrong and we hope her return is vindicating and glorious. Unfortunately, we’ve seen this story before and we don’t love the odds or logic of it ending particularly well.