UFC 207 marked what will likely be the end of a career for someone who was once regarded as the greatest female MMA fighter on earth, Ronda Rousey. Ronda's rise and fall will go down in history, perhaps even bigger and bolder than her reign at the top was, and she will likely be remembered for what she wasn’t, compared to what she was. But although this past year and a half has not been kind to Ronda or the empire that she built, we must give credit where credit is due.
Ronda Rousey helped launch female MMA into the mainstream, becoming the first woman fighter to be signed to the UFC, where she was crowned Bantamweight Champion, and soon began her reign as the best female fighter in the world. When Ronda fought Liz Carmouche at UFC 157, February 23rd, 2013, where she made her first title defense in the UFC, I don’t think even Ronda could have imagined just how far the woman’s Bantamweight Division could go, or even how far she could go. From the moment she began fighting in the UFC, Ronda was met with little to no resistance from her opponents, earning Performance of the Night in 4 of her next 5 fights, leading up to her loss against Holly Holm. It wasn’t just her 12-0 record or that she was the only champ the UFC had ever known, it was how she defeated her opponents. Ronda handed out beatings like they were candy on Halloween, and she feared no one.
Leading up to the Holly Holm fight we began to see cracks in Ronda’s foundation, and we saw her true colors begin to shine. She had never dealt with outside pressures and things not going the way she wanted, because she was always in control. The moment Holly Holm landed that head kick, everything Ronda Rousey had worked so hard to build and preserve, came crashing down. She spent a year in hiding, teasing multiple comebacks but never making good on any of them, and as the months passed, people began to question if we would ever see Ronda in an Octagon again.
Failure is one of, if not the biggest thing in life. It's not the failure itself, but how we react to that failure that makes or breaks us. A true champion to me, is someone who takes their loss, licks their wounds, and gets right back up. For example, love him or hate him, but after Conor lost to Nate, there was nothing that would stop him from avengeing that loss. He needed to prove to himself, and the world that he was capable of doing this. And he did. In my eyes, even if Ronda had won tonight, she still had not righted that wrong from the Holly Holm fight, and that alone would not allow her to feel free, or liberated from that failure. What I saw in Ronda Rousey after her loss was something that I would not expect from a true champion. And because of that, I feel that we have seen Ronda Rousey fight for the last time. I think this sport, and the life of competition that she created, has taken too much of a toll on Ronda's psyche. For the good of her own mental health, and the sport, Ronda Rousey must retire. The woman's Bantamweight division has perhaps found its stride, with Amanda Nunes looking to be a serious champion, with plenty of challengers both on the rise and already ready. Not only is the Batamweight division looking like it has turned a corner, but the UFC has finally introduced a woman's Featherweight belt, with rumors of a potential Flyweight division in the future. Female MMA would not be close to where it is right now without the path that Ronda blazed, but this fairytale does not have a happy "storybook" ending, and I believe in my heart that UFC 207 will be the last time we see Ronda Rousey inside an Octagon, and for good reason.
This photo will likely be the last of the Ronda Rousey-Era, and I think it will be remembered much more vividly than any photo from her spot atop the MMA mountain, for good reason or not.