UFC President, Dana White, was a recent guest on the company’s official podcast, and one of the most interesting topics discussed was Ronda Rousey’s frame of mind, who had failed to reclaim her title at UFC 207.
Without being asked for a prediction regarding Rousey’s fighting future, White’s words weren’t encouraging: “I wouldn’t say she fights again. I think she’s probably done.”
Rousey’s lack of engagement with the sport had long been rumored, particularly after her reaction to the shocking knockout loss to Holly Holm in Australia.
Rousey was memorably seen hiding her face from paparazzi, and her disconnect with the media was seemingly extended forever, not even participating in traditional obligations during fight week with Amanda Nunes.
Dana White, once an apparent detractor, has now become very close with the former champion, and has worked as an improbable messenger for her during this elusive stint.
Without clarification from Rousey herself, we are left to speculate about her future. But if she does in fact decide to retire, she will leave us with a fighting legacy that is way more palpable than her complicated personality.
Older MMA fans became aware of Ronda Rousey as a legitimate contender in the sport when she ran through Sarah D’Alelio and Julia Budd in Strikeforce. Her trash talking expertise, good looks and immaculate record (as an amateur and professional) led to a quick shot at Miesha Tate, the at-the-time champion of the now defunct organization.
A star was born when Rousey backed up her words with one of the most gruesome submissions of her amazing run, changing Dana White’s tune shortly after and introducing female fighters to the biggest stage.
In the UFC, Ronda’s star only grew bigger, with her Olympic medalist judo skills being established time and time again.
The backlash started to form during Rousey’s stint in The Ultimate Fighter, as she coached opposite her rival, Miesha Tate. It escalated when Rousey refused to shake Tate’s hand, who had offered to do it right after being defeated for the second time in the rivalry.
A myriad of personal hits came Rousey’s way as she kept defending her title, from the friction between her Judo World Champion mother and head coach Edmond Tarverdyan, to a slight from opponent Bethe Correia that was taken as a callback to Rousey’s tragic childhood.
Psychological blows became physical in the memorable UFC 193, when Holly Holm dominated Ronda Rousey in the octagon, capping the performance with a left high kick from hell that disproved Rousey’s fiery Instagram theories.
Rousey’s radio silence as a former champion comes as a direct opposite to her older loud ways, giving fuel to the idea that she’s a front-runner that can’t handle loss, or even that she believed invincibility was an actual attribute.
Contrary to some critics, I don’t believe the sport has evolved beyond Ronda’s capabilities. Holly Holm and Amanda Nunes (Ronda’s two career losses) have been defeated by the likes of Miesha Tate and Cat Zingano, respectively. Women that were dominated by Ronda Rousey. So it’s not a matter of physical ability, but a tough rejiggering of the mind is necessary. Rousey has to learn how to win in a world that doesn’t care about narrative or predestination. In a world where she isn’t unbeatable.
If this is it for Rousey, she can leave the sport knowing that she affected it in a great manner, and that the upcoming UFC 208 main event possibly would have never been booked without her mark. But the greatest champions are revered for their ability to fight back, and for winning when it’s not guaranteed.
We don’t know if Rousey wants to be remembered like a Muhammad Ali or Georges St-Pierre. All we have for now is her boss’s word that “she’s good, her spirits are good, she’s doing her thing.”