On Friday night, Amanda Nunes seemingly hammered the final nail into the coffin of Ronda Rousey’s UFC career. The downfall of Ronda Rousey has been in motion for years. Even before her loss to Holly Holm at UFC 193, many suspected that her new-found love for striking would be her undoing. In the last two outings, this has proven to be the case. Rousey’s willingness to strike with far superior strikers showed just how oblivious the famed judoka was. Under the tutelage of Edmond Tarverdyan, she regressed in recent years. And the fact that she chose to stick with him and continue training at the Glendale Fighting Club despite her embarrassing loss to Holm has shown that her loyalty limited her as an athlete.
The problem with MMA is that no matter how good you are, you will lose. And, most time, it will be embarrassing. Every great fighter loses at some point in their career. Some lose in their twilight, like Anderson Silva and Fedor Emelianenko. Whereas others taste defeat early, like Georges St-Pierre and Conor McGregor. Losing is not necessarily a death sentence for a cage fighter. In fact, it can often give an athlete a new lease on life. The mark of a great fighter is the ability to evolve and grow. To rise from the embers of defeat. Rousey’s loss last Friday night showed that she cannot recover from defeat. But does it really matter?
Many have taken pleasure in watching Rousey fall. Numerous fans, media members, and even fighters took to social media to poke fun at the former champion. But I believe it is time to celebrate the career of a pioneer of women’s MMA. Just because she was defeated doesn’t mean she wasn’t a special fighter. Just because she was knocked out twice in a row doesn’t diminish her previous achievements. You can hate Ronda Rousey for her demeanor outside of the cage, fine. But to disregard her skills and impact on the sport is disrespectful. And, ultimately foolish.
Before she fought Holly Holm at UFC 193, Ronda Rousey finished 12 consecutive fights. 11 of those were within the opening round. She won the world title in just her fifth professional fight, an astonishing accomplishment in the modern era of MMA. Rousey’s streak of finishing three title fights in under a minute is something that will likely never be achieved again. Despite all the negativity that surrounded her outside of the Octagon, there are few fighters that ensured excitement in the cage as much as she did. Without Ronda Rousey, there simply wouldn’t be women fighting in the UFC. She is the reason we get to enjoy the likes of Amanda Nunes and Joanna Jędrzejczyk inside the Octagon. We should be thankful for that.
The most important thing Ronda Rousey has done for MMA is truly bringing it into the mainstream. It is unfathomable that any other UFC fighter could have had as many column inches written about them in mainstream publications as Rousey. Or, made appearances on high profile shows such as “Ellen” or “Saturday Night Live.” She brought eyes to MMA that would never have come without her.
In gyms across the country, there are young girls who were inspired to train in martial arts instead of other sports because of Rousey. Regardless of whether you like her or not, it is impossible to deny the effect she has had on young girls across America. She has shown it is acceptable to be feminine and kick ass. She has destroyed the societal preconception that female fighters are masculine. If UFC 207 was the last time we’ll see Ronda Rousey in the Octagon, it would be a shame. I believe she still has a lot to give the sport.
But one thing is for certain: Rousey has nothing to be embarrassed about. Nothing to be ashamed of. The people laughing at her now will likely never achieve what she has. And no matter what the next chapter holds, she can be proud of the time she spent inside the Octagon.