Ronda Rousey: Worthy Champion or Pretender?

Rousey: Pretender or Worthy Champ?

It has been over a week since Ronda Rousey unsuccessfully tried to regain her UFC Bantamweight title belt, but still the MMA world is buzzing. Both a positive and negative light.

At UFC 207 on December 30, we would crown a new men’s bantamweight champion in Cody Garbrandt. But also taking place would be Rousey’s devastating loss. The former Bantamweight women’s champion now has a legacy in question. Was she a great champion or just a pretender to the throne?

The famous group from the 1950s—The Platters—once penned the song “The Great Pretender.” The lyrics to that tune may very well describe Rousey’s tumultuous career:

Oh yes I’m the great pretender

Pretending I’m doing well

My need is such I pretend too much

I’m lonely but no one can tell

Adrift in a world of my own

I play the game but to my real shame.

When Rousey won the title by beating Liz Carmouche with an arm bar in the first round, she was immediately thrown into the spotlight. And thus began the hype. She would reel off five straight title defenses—three by armbar, the other two by KO or TKO. All five, with the exception of the Miesha Tate fight, would end in the first round.

So, why a “pretender” tag? Because Rousey’s career could just as easily be considered a smokescreen. Was she as good as her record?

To say the least, his writer believes she has been exposed in her last two bouts. During that six-fight run when she won the title and defended the belt five times, it is of this opinion that not only was she facing women of little talent, but also fighters that had no clue how to actually fight the former judo expert. Or, how to even defend against her.

The last line in that song above is perfect:

I play the game but to my real shame.

Rousey: Pretender or Worthy Champ?

Ronda Rousey played the game. And the shame came in terrible knockout losses to Holly Holm and Amanda Nunes. These were two fighters with separate and excellent fighting styles that Rousey was not ready for.

Additionally, both Holm and Nunes were not intimidated in any form or fashion. Those two didn’t buy into the hype. Hype that was essentially created by UFC president Dana White and bought into by the former female champion.

White would go on to coddle Rousey. And UFC announcer Joe Rogan didn’t help matters, at one point declaring her the world’s best athlete. And, the baddest woman on the planet Rousey believed it. She felt she would go into any fight, apply an armbar, and win. All the while the truth was that she really wasn’t a talented, true martial artist. It was just a matter of time before she got into the octagon with a fighter who could hold her own.

That fighter came in as Holly Holm, a former boxing champion who also possessed a great kicking game. Holm knocked out Rousey to win the belt with a spectacular kick that sent Rousey into hiding for over 13 months without a whisper.

The fact that Ronda Rousey refused to do any press conferences leading up to the fight with Amanda Nunes spoke volumes to her lack of preparation. And more importantly, her lack of confidence.

Before she lost her title, Rousey was an arrogant, smug and fearless fighter. Holly Holm proved to the world that was all a smokescreen. Once someone actually took the fight to Rousey, the true fighter would be exposed.

At the weigh-in for Nunes, Rousey simply did not look right. Once the fight began, she looked out of place. Then, Nunes took her out in 48 seconds. Rousey offered absolutely nothing in her title loss to Nunes.

One thing to consider when looking back at Rousey’s career is that of those five title defenses, her opponent’s overall record in the UFC was a combined 19-17. Not exactly great. Those same five opponents, however, have won 75 of 101 bouts—which is a bit more impressive—taking place in Strikeforce and other MMA outfits.

But it is the UFC results that count the most. And for Ronda Rousey, she failed to face a good all-around fighter until Holm and Nunes got in her face. Now we have the end results, and quite frankly, they speak for themselves.

For more from Harv Aronson visit his website.

  • W. Leigh Cummings

    That this article is even conceived displays that the writer has nothing else to do – not even focus on why he is in the field.

  • Harv Aronson
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