Ronda Rousey Will Need More Than A Win Over Holly Holm To Restore Her Legitimacy

Ronda Rousey, by her own admission in an interview reported by ABC News, is still reeling from her loss at UFC 193 to Women’s Bantamweight Champion Holly Holm, and her recent Instagram post indicates that she may be taking a lot of the backlash against her, as seen in the Atlanta Daily World, to heart.

On Monday, she shared this with her followers.

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The quote, from Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night, left little doubt of how she’s feeling after the lambasting that naysayers gave her following her devastating loss to Holm.

Ronda Rousey had been on a whirlwind press tour for the UFC. She had done movies with the promise of more to come, and appeared on magazine covers. A lot was happening in her young career, and some defenders of her — among them UFC President Dana White in comments to MMA Fighting — believed it played a key role in how easily Holm manhandled her.

Prior to the loss, it was another story.

Ronda Rousey speculated, again to MMA Fighting, that Holm couldn’t handle the demands of being the champ — that no one else could. But she was “the best” for a reason. She could handle it. Yet she lost anyway.

Now there is a sense that Ronda must conquer Holm in order to regain her legitimacy. However, it’s probably going to take a lot more than that.

Namely, it’s going to take a meeting with Cris Cyborg.

Since winning the UFC Bantamweight Championship, Holly Holm has slipped comfortably into her role as champion; but that isn’t all she has done. She has also shown that she would be willing to fight Cris Cyborg, win or lose, at a weight class of Cyborg’s choosing — bantam, catch, featherweight — as long as the UFC allowed it.

While Ronda Rousey — who entered MMA in Cyborg’s heavier featherweight Strikeforce division — has used the Bantamweight title as a shield, Holm has been willing to say, “It’s not about the title; it’s about giving fans the fight they want to see.”

That’s a step that has delegitimized the success of Ronda Rousey in no small part.

For the time being, the Cyborg-Holm fight isn’t going to happen because the UFC has decided to go with Rousey-Holm II. If Ronda fights smarter and avoids Holm’s striking game and focuses instead on takedowns and armbars, it’s a fight she could very well win.

But beating Holly Holm will not win back legitimacy for Ronda Rousey, just as losing to Rousey will not delegitimize Holly Holm.

Why?

Because in the world of fighting, it isn’t about wins and losses. It’s about what you’re willing to do to prove you’re the best.

Legends of the sport like Randy Couture, Chuck Liddell, and Tito Ortiz, all experienced defeat; but none of those guys ever ran from a fight. Until Ronda Rousey is ready to capitulate and say to Cris Cyborg that she accepts her challenge at a catchweight or featherweight, she will not be able to reclaim her legitimacy regardless of whether she beats Holm in the rematch.

Holly Holm, on the other hand, will be just fine. She was the one to dethrone a seemingly invincible Ronda Rousey. She has also experienced losses and bounced back from them. Holm isn’t afraid of any opponent, Cyborg included.

That’s not to say she will always win — she won’t — but she doesn’t have to worry about legacy because she is already doing what a fighter is supposed to do. Accept the challenges before you.

And that reveals what Ronda Rousey must understand if she wants to be remembered as one of the greatest in her sport: she doesn’t have to beat Cris Cyborg; but she will have to fight her.

What do you think, readers?

Will Ronda Rousey restore her standing with just a victory over Holm, or will her road back not be complete until she accepts the Cyborg challenge? Sound off in the comments section.

[Image via Ronda Rousey Facebook]

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