SUNDAY SUPPLEMENT 1/1: Ronda Rousey’s devastating UFC 207 loss and what is next for her

By D.R. Webster, MMATorch contributor

RouseyRonda (photo credit Mark J. Rebilas © USA Today)

Ronda Rousey: The End Of The Line?

This past weekend at UFC 207, we finally got to see the big return of Ronda Rousey.

Everyone wondered how she would look post-Holly Holm. Would she crumble under the pressure or would she return to the top of the heap and show some of the dominance that she had during her title reign?

All of these questions were answered emphatically, as Amanda Nunes dismantled the once almost mystical figure that was Ronda Rousey in 48 seconds, signaling the crowning of a new dangerous queen in the Women’s Bantamweight division.

It was clear from the fight, that Rousey was still not over her loss to Holly Holm and, despite being in great physical shape, her mental state was not where it needed to be to step inTO the Octagon with a lethal, aggressive striker like Nunes. Nunes added another legendary name in Women’s MMA to her list and showcased striking skills which will put the rest of the division on notice in this new era of the Women’s Bantamweight Division. Nunes looks like she could hold onto the belt for a long time to come.

Rousey looked like a deer in the headlights in the midst of Nunes’s strikes, almost like she had never been hit before. In addition to her mental state, this brings in the fatal flaw in her preparation and something which Nunes pointed out after the fight – the fact that she had continued to train with Edmund Tarverdyan at Glendale Fighting Club, despite his reputation as a bad coach. Rousey’s own mother, AnnMaria De Mars, even publicly decried him and his methods on several occasions, which had been well-documented.

As Nunes mentioned in the post-fight conference, Tarverdyan was the one who encouraged Rousey to believe that she could be a boxer, despite her clear lack of skills in that department.

His ineptitude was proven once again by a video released from UFC 207 of his corner instructions, which consisted of screaming “Clinch and head movement” over and over with no helpful guidance to his fighter in danger and screaming in disbelief that Rousey was defeated.

It’s not hard to see why she was defeated so soundly and suddenly. Her boxing was possibly worse than it was against Holm, which speaks volumes for his coaching methods in getting Rousey ready for this fight over the last year,

Rousey made her career from judo throws and armbars. Then it went all downhill after the Bethe Correia fight when a quick KO win gave her the idea that she could finish fights on the feet, an idea which Tarverdyan fueled.

This idea has contributed greatly to her downfall. After all of the talk when Rousey was riding high about her possibly being able to fight and defeat men, including Floyd Mayweather Jr. in a boxing environment, she was destroyed by two top strikers on the feet when she should have stuck to her bread and butter – clinching, throws, and submissions.

Boxing aside, her mindset was the real killer here. She was beaten before she stepped into the Octagon. After the Holly Holm fight, she lost her most important attribute, something which gave her the edge over every opponent she faced before the Holm fight: Her confidence/arrogance and her cloak of invincibility.

This gave her the confidence to try to finish fights quickly, to be aggressive, to go for the armbar fight after fight. This all built her mystique and psyched out her opponents before the fight.

This opposite happened to Rousey here against Nunes. The loss to Holly Holm loomed over her like a black cloud and her uncertainty was no match for a focused and aggressive Nunes, who wanted it more and it brought an end to the notion that Rousey would ever be anything near what she was again.

The Holly Holm fight may have dented the legacy of Rousey, but this loss to Nunes tarnished it even more. While Rousey will always be the the pioneer of Women’s MMA in the UFC and the first dominant champion, she will now be seen in a different light by many. Being defeated badly two fights in a row in what should be her prime years has done a lot of damage. Her legacy was built upon her being the killer, being the dominant one. That’s gone now and it has taken a lot of her reputation with it.

Rousey has had support from many other fighters and athletes after the fight including Jon Jones, Lebron James, Tyron Woodley, Kobe Bryant, and Demetrious Johnson, among others, who have backed her and urged her to keep fighting.

Rousey made $3 million for her fight with Nunes, tying her for the biggest payday in UFC history with Conor McGregor. Despite her mental state, that is a lot of money to turn down for another fight. If it’s anywhere near that price next time, then I think that Rousey will fight again.

With all of the talk of movies and WWE, I believe after two huge defeats, what made her popular – her mystique, her public perception as a once in a lifetime all conquering female – is gone and her actions over the past year, including avoiding the press, doesn’t help matter.

It makes it less likely that she will get the big starring roles in movies and a top spot in WWE that she once seemed primed for. She is no longer so popular that people will move heaven and earth to work with her.

She is still a draw for sure, but in the movie market, her stock is way down from where it was before. Also, if she did go to WWE at any point, she would be treated much differently now than she would have been around WrestleMania 31 when she was still riding the crest of a wave.

As many people have said, the only way she will make several million dollars in a short space of time again is through fighting.

Rousey broke her silence on Sunday after the fight in an exclusive interview with ESPN.

“I want to say thank you to all of my fans who have been there for me in not only the greatest moments but in the most difficult ones,“Words cannot convey how much your love and support means to me Returning to not just fighting, but winning, was my entire focus this past year. However, sometimes — even when you prepare and give everything you have and want something so badly — it doesn’t work how you planned. I take pride in seeing how far the women’s division has come in the UFC and commend all the other women who have been part of making this possible, including Amanda. I need to take some time to reflect and think about the future. Thank you for believing in me and understanding.”

I don’t believe she should fight again, I feel like the loss to Holm broke her mentally and the Nunes fight only drove the fear home even more. I would worry about her well being if they put her back in the Octagon with another champion or contender again.

She still has skills, of course, but if her head isn’t in the game, then it’s over before it really begins. Also, if she continues to train with Edmund Tarverdyan, then the outcome will continue to be the same for her. If she does continue to fight, it could become sad to watch. Going from a dominant pioneer to a punching bag is not the way for someone like Rousey to go out.

The longtime dream fight with Cyborg was discussed before the Nunes fight as a possible next fight if Rousey won. This would be a terrible idea. Cyborg is a more dangerous striker than Nunes is. For the UFC to sanction this fight would be insane at this point, in my opinion.

The most talked about option I have seen is a possible rematch with Holly Holm at 145 lbs., and if Holm wins, she wins the new UFC Women’s Featherweight Title.

And while the big rematch is there and would allow Rousey to play the redemption card to build to one more big money fight, I can’t see this fight going any differently than their first if they do meet again. Holm had her well-scouted then and, at a higher weight class, she could have even more power behind her strikes which would spell disaster for Rousey.

No doubt about it, Ronda Rousey was the reason that the UFC now has women’s divisions. She got to Dana White and managed to carry it on her shoulders. She was dominant and rose to unprecedented heights – MMA star, movies, WWE appearances, mainstream media darling, and being quoted by other stars – but that wave has now crashed to shore and the new blood of the Women’s Bantamweight Division have their time to shine.

Rousey was put on a pedestal as an icon, but now it may be a fight in and of itself to keep her legacy alive and to convey to newer fans how much of an impact she really had on the sport during her reign.

NOW CHECK OUT THE PREVIOUS SUNDAY SUPPLEMENT: The Retirement of Urijah Faber and his legacy in the sport of MMA

(D.R. Webster writes “The Sunday Supplement” for MMATorch each week and also authors the MMATorch Daily Trivia feature. He has written for Daily Record Sport, WrestleTalk TV, Sports Kings, and a variety of other combat sports sites and publications, including review shows and DVDs, news reporting, columns, and fantasy articles.)

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