Rousey Beaten Into Obscurity at UFC 207
In less than five years, fans of mixed martial arts will inevitably ask, “Who is Ronda Rousey?” She can’t be celebrated because she won’t be remembered. Rousey, the revered former Women’s Bantamweight Champion was a legend. Tales of her fighting conquests were shared around the campfire. But with her latest defeat at the hands of Amanda Nunes, Rousey’s legacy will plunge to depths of obscurity she never could have imagined.
Most of the allure surrounding Rousey’s return was wonder of the unknown. Spectators flocked to Vegas or Pay Per View out of curiosity. After her devastating loss to Holly Holm and eventual fall from grace with an extended layoff out of the octagon, Rousey was an unknown commodity. The mere intrigue of the unknown was a major selling point for UFC 207.
To her credit, Rousey is a natural showman. Her presence alone at the weigh-in created a tension sharp enough to cut glass. We were ready for her to return to the top of the sport, and she was ready to reclaim her throne (so we thought).
Then reality set in and Nunes’ 48-second demolition of Rousey reaffirmed our understanding that ‘looks can be deceiving.’ Rousey emitted confidence and gave the impression she was a caged animal waiting to wreak havoc upon release. But as Nunes landed strike after strike, Rousey’s timidity and unfocused gaze told a different story. Similar to her meltdown against Holm, once again Rousey found herself in a fight she was ill equipped to participate. She had no answer to counter Nune’s exceptional striking ability.
Who is to blame for this shameful performance? There are three options:
1) Ronda Rousey, 2) Rousey’s training staff, or 3) Dana White
If we are to believe Rousey is responsible for this debacle, then we must chalk up her lack of preparation to absent professionalism. Only non-professionals would enter a competition unprepared and missing a plan. There must be an answer to explain the beating she suffered. Considering this was Rousey’s lone opportunity to make a new impression on skeptical fans, it is absurd to think she neglected her training.
Rousey’s Training Staff
Alternatively, if we assume Rousey’s failure was the result of training errors, then her team shoulders most of the responsibility. After Holm exposed Rousey’s limitations with striking, fans were assured that Rousey would make striking the central focus of her training. Either this promise was kept and Rousey truly is a woefully untalented striker, or she opted against training to improve striking, electing instead to refine her elite grappling ability.
Besides footwork, Rousey should have been taught to maintain a guard (for protection). Though striking is critical, avoiding strikes is even more critical. If taught, this lesson was lost on Rousey as she was hit hard and often. In fact, she was hit so hard and so often that 48 seconds after the fight began it ended with a referee stoppage or technical knockout. That outcome is unacceptable. Not losing — everyone loses at some point during a career. It was the manner in which she was outclassed that embarrassed the entire sport.
Dana White is a repackaged 21st century Don King, but savvier and even more conniving than King. He is a master marketer and manipulator, both qualities he used to build the UFC empire. White is responsible for building the public’s unrealistic expectation for Rousey, in order to sell tickets.
His first priority could have been the safety of his employee, but that would adversely affect his bottom line. Unfortunately for Rousey her professional ambitions were victimized by White’s selfishness and greed. White will discard Rousey now that her future in the sport is non-existent and she will no longer draw millions to UFC events.
Dana White knew or should have known how fragile Rousey was. He was in the best position to know whether she was fully prepared to reenter the octagon after her extended layoff. White knew she was not nursing an injury, or healing physically. Rousey was severely damaged emotionally, slipping into an extreme depression, even contemplating suicide after losing to Holm, and White exploited this to sell his production.
Was Rousey ever as good as the public was led to believe, or had Dana White brainwashed all of us to believe in a mediocre talent? She was the sport’s biggest star, and regarded as the best female fighter ever. She was likeable, converted into a movie star, and easily vanquished opponents in seconds. But that all changed when she faced Holly Holm. The Holm fight was the beginning of the end for Rousey. But sadly, it ended before it really began.
So whom should we hold accountable for Rousey’s demise? Ronda Rousey? Rousey’s training staff? Dana White? Or does some combination of the three seem most fitting? However you answer that question, know that one truth is definitive — Nunes did not just end Rousey’s career with those combinations, Nunes erased Rousey from mixed martial arts relevancy forever.