How did former UFC women’s bantamweight champion Ronda Rousey (pictured) go from being Sports Illustrated’s “World’s Most Dominant Athlete” to looking like she doesn’t belong in the same cage against women who wouldn’t be there without her trailblazing in a span of merely 19 months?
Rousey was sitting on top of the MMA world entering her August 2015 showdown with bitter rival Bethe Correia. The “Rowdy” one was perfect through 11 professional fights prior to UFC 190, with only one of those outings lasting longer than four minutes and 49 seconds.
Rousey had finished off her previous three opponents in a combined 96 seconds before facing Correia. The then-undefeated Brazilian was supposed to present Rousey with a different challenge, but didn’t fare any better after getting faceplanted in just 34 seconds.
It’s hard to believe that blasting someone into unconsciousness for the first time in your MMA career is a bad thing, but that KO victory marked the beginning of the end for Rousey.
It instilled a false sense of security in Rousey that she had miraculously transformed into a world-class standup specialist overnight. Rousey merely outstruke a wild puncher who had hands inferior to hers.
But Rousey punched opened Pandora’s box that night. She was sick and tired of being called a one-trick armbar pony and became hellbent on proving her naysayers wrong. All the sweet nothings nonsense longtime coach Edmond Tarverdyan was whispering in Rousey’s ear only fueled the fire.
Rousey was adamant that former boxing champion and kickboxing ace Holly Holm would be the perfect opponent to test out her new bombs against. Yeah, about that…
Rousey looked absolutely silly – at best – three months later against the boxer at UFC 193 before getting posterized with a highlight reel headkick in the second round. Like a thief in the night, Holm stole her once-untouchable bantamweight belt, confidence and aura of invincibility.
It took Rousey months to pull out of her depression. Was Rousey done with MMA? Nope, but perhaps she should have been.
After a 13-month layoff, more importantly 381 days for Tarverdyan to fine-tune her boxing, Rousey returned for an immediate crack at her old crown. Unfortunately for Rousey, it wasn’t old nemesis Miesha Tate, who shocked Holm to capture the belt and Rousey already held two submission victories over, who was sitting atop the throne.
It was standup assassin Amanda Nunes, who dusted Tate for the title five months ago.
No problem. Rousey had over a year to regroup and realize that judo and armbars were her bread and butter. She would simply get her mitts on Nunes, overpower “The Lioness” to the ground and slap on her trademark armbar.
Game-set-match … And new!
Yeah, about that…
“I knew [Rousey] was going to to strike with me, because she thinks it because her boxing coach told her she has good striking,” Nunes said at the UFC 207 post-fight press conference. “Yeah, because she thinks that she’s a boxer, you know? [Tarverdyan] like put this thing in her head and make the girl believe in that. I don’t know why he did that.
“She have great judo, and she can go far in this division, but he put some crazy thing about boxing and her career started to go down. And if I win that, I am the real striker.”
Although Nunes didn’t render Rousey unconscious on the canvas like Holm, this 48 second shellacking was a far more embarrassing defeat for Rousey.
Rousey’s best chance to reclaim her throne was to dance with the one that brung her, not the one she had a one-night stand with.
Now Rousey will (likely) dance off into the sunset, and she has Correia (and Tarverdyan) to thank for it.