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Should Ronda Rousey Walk Away From the UFC?
Ronda Rousey is one of the most talked about figures and mixed martial arts. She has gained notoriety due to her accomplishments inside the octagon as well as her endeavors outside the ring, but with recent events, her career as an MMA fighter is now in question. To see how we got here we must first go to the beginning of her MMA journey.
Breaking into MMA
Rousey who won an Olympic bronze medal in the 2008 Beijing games in judo, broke the MMA world on March 27th, 2011. After an undefeated amateur career in which she had 3 wins and no losses with all of her wins coming by submission, she turned pro. The total combined time of all her amateur matches was less than 2 minutes. The King of the Cage: Turning Point was where she made her MMA pro debut by submitting Ediane Gomes with an armbar 25 seconds into the first round. She then decided to move to Strikeforce, an MMA promotion company, where she proceeded to win four more fights all by submission.
Joining the UFC
In November 2012 she became the first woman to sign with the biggest MMA promotions company the Ultimate Fighting Championship or UFC. In the UFC she became a household name as she continued to win in dominant fashion. She started her career by winning 12 straight matches and became one of the faces the UFC. Rousey appeared to be unstoppable. Every person she stepped into the octagon against seemed to fear her and she won in dominate fashion making short work of all her opponents. After 3 years in the UFC, she appeared to have no chinks in her armor and it seem like her run would last for a long time. The first sign of trouble came on November 15th, 2015 when she, for the 7th time, defended her bantamweight title this time against Holly Holm. Based on her popularity and utter dominance she was a heavy favorite in the match. To surprise many she was knocked out in the second round with a high kick from Holly Holm. That was her first defeat as a professional MMA fighter. The UFC ordered her to take a 45-day medical suspension 3 days after the fight and no flights for 60 days. A few month after the fight Rousey went on the Ellen Show and stated that she had suicidal thoughts after the fight. "Honestly, my thought in the medical room, I was sitting in the corner and was like, 'What am I anymore if I'm not this?'" Rousey said. "Literally sitting there thinking about killing myself. In that exact second, I'm like, 'I'm nothing. What do I do anymore? No one gives a s--- about me anymore without this.'" Those are the words of someone who is at their lowest point and has lost all confidence.
She took over a year off before she returned to the ring December 30th, 2016 at UFC 207 to fight Amanda Nunes for the bantamweight title. This was even worse performance than her previous one. She lost by TKO 48 seconds into the fight. “Returning to not just fighting, but winning, was my entire focus this past year," Rousey said in a statement after that loss. "However, sometimes - even when you prepare and give everything you have and want something so badly - it doesn't work how you planned. . . . I need to take some time to reflect and think about the future. Thank you for believing in me and understanding." Her quotes leave me to believe she is seriously considering walking away from the UFC.
Life After MMA
If she wants to walk away there are a few Avenues post-UFC she could take. She has already participated in professional wrestling and in the past few years been in a few movies. She was in Expendables 3, Fast & Furious 7, and Entourage and she also is slated to be the lead in an upcoming remake of Roadhouse. Based on those opportunities I can see a successful post MMA career if she is ready to walk away. I think in part a lot of her current mental state comes from how she viewed and carried herself when she was on top before the defeats. She went from people not liking her for her perceived arrogance or cockiness to people feeling sorry for her after she looked so bad in her defeats. Once that starts you are really left with two options, try to continue to prove them wrong or walk away knowing you you've done enough to popularize the sport and you had a career you could be proud of.
Should Ronda Rousey Retire?
"And so rock bottom became the solid foundation on which I rebuilt my life," was Rousey first post after UFC 207. The fight game can be a fickle one day you can be on top of the world and seemingly unbeatable with everyone fearing you when you step into the ring. The next you can be turned to a mere mortal. It is also tough for a fighter to judge whether it is time to hang it up. It can be a slow fall or it can be in an instant plummet. I believe if she wants to continue fighting she must not take the year in between fights that she took previously. She has to get back on the horse as soon as she is cleared to participate again. The longer you wait the rustier you get and the more disinterested you may become. It will also be tougher recapture confidence and dominance she once had. Ronda Rousey’s fall from grace could be part skill level decline, it could be that the rest of the competition is catching up to the bar and she set, it could be the last few fights were just bad match-ups for her. Based on results I think is a little bit of all three. I believe she has trouble with Strikers which were the last two fights but I also think that with the growing popularity of the UFC and more and more women are taking up the sport raising the level of competition. It’s not going to be as easy a run to championships as she had when the sport was new but if she's willing to stick it out and overcome her losses she can still find herself a successful career in the sport. I think based on some of her comments her heart might not be in the sport anymore and it may be time to walk away but if she does regain her dominance that can make her comeback story greater.