The Ronda Rousey loss to Holly Holm at UFC 193 in Australia on Saturday night stunned MMA followers and the sports and mainstream media in general.
Holm, a former boxing champion, knocked out the previously undefeated Rousey with a cataclysmic leg kick 59 seconds into the second round of the bout that took place at Melbourne’s Etihad Stadium.
The new UFC Bantamweight Champion, Holm is now 10-0, while Rousey falls to 12-1.
A former Olympic bronze medalist in judo (the first female competitor from the U.S. to earn a medal in that sport), Ronda Rousey went on to become the first female fighter to sign with the Ultimate Fighting Championship group after previously being affiliated with Strikeforce.
Rousey, 28, also has a burgeoning acting career going, which will include playing herself in a film based on her autobiography.
While the media was running a victory lap for Rousey in the pre-fight coverage, the “unthinkable” defeat prompted much follow-up analysis of what went wrong for the heavily favored Rousey, in what ESPN called the biggest upset in sports history, an event perhaps of the magnitude at the time of the James “Buster” Douglas out-of-nowhere heavyweight boxing knockout of Mike Tyson in February 1990 in Tokyo.
Apart from that the less-heralded Holly Holm was a better fighter on Saturday night, and excluding any WWE-style conspiracy theories, here are four completely and wholly non-scientific and non-analytical reasons why Rousey lost.
As always, your mileage may vary.
•Media/marketing hype: In a ratings play or for other reasons, glowing press coverage may have created an atmosphere of overconfidence for Team Rousey and its acolytes and an underestimation of the opponent. Many MMA experts predicted that the “unbeatable” Rousey would take care of business within one round and that the fight would essentially be no contest. The mainstream media outside of the sports precincts enthusiastically climbed aboard the Rousey bandwagon as well.
When the “gasbags” (as the New York Daily News columnist Bob Raissman generically describes TV sports commentators/journalists) all share the same opinion about an outcome, your BS detector should be going off, or at least your level of skepticism should increase. Remember, as just one example, how analysts predicted that the Washington Nationals were a lock for the 2015 World Series?
“Ronda Rousey was truly the media’s greatest creation… She was a marketing machine and nothing more,” David Portnoy of Barstool Sports boldly declared after the Holly Holm fight, adding that Rousey might be the most overrated athlete of all time.
Whether this loss has a substantial effect on Rousey’s endorsement deal portfolio remains to be seen.
•The Madden curse. This taboo originally started with mishaps that befell the pro football player who was selected for the cover of the Madden NFL video game each year, John Madden being the Super Bowl-winning coach of the Oakland Raiders and then a long-time NFL broadcaster. “Leading sports video game publisher EA puts an NFL star on the cover of its annual football franchise and then that star gets hurt or suffers some other bad fate. On Friday, EA announced Ronda Rousey as its cover athlete for its second UFC game. Whoops,” Kotaku reported.
•The Sanders endorsement. Ronda Rousey recently endorsed Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders, the independent socialist running for president as a Democrat. It may or may not qualify as a Sanders curse, but it looks like socialism doesn’t work in or out of the Octagon.
Feeling the Bern, Rousey likes the fact that Sanders won’t accept any corporate money. She acknowledges voting for the third party for ex-sitcom star Roseanne Barr in the 2012 presidential election.
As a digression, it seems to be an accepted and expected practice that most celebrities at least publicly will express support for liberal/progressive political candidates. It is kind of the same predictable rite of passage where musicians always object to a GOP candidate using their songs at campaign rallies. Privately, many high-earning entertainers whose lifestyle generates a sizable carbon footprint deploy a “strike force” of lawyers and accountants to shelter as much income as possible from going into governmental coffers to pay for social programs that politicians like Sanders espouse.
That being said, Rousey apparently doesn’t agree with Sanders’ one-size-fits-all government-imposed solution to fix the so-called gender pay gap, insisting on two occasions during interviews that she should be paid based on how much revenue she brought to the UFC and based on her tenure in MMA irrespective of gender.
Parenthetically, in August, Donald Trump – who is self-funding his campaign without any corporate donations — claimed that “Ronda Rousey likes me,” which was refuted by the UFC fighter who responded that she would never vote for a “reality TV star,” although a sitcom star was apparently acceptable.
Trump, the GOP presidential front-runner, celebrated Rousey’s loss to Holm on social media yesterday, calling her “not a nice person.”
•Rousey’s own prediction. Ronda Rousey may have foreshadowed the loss to Holly Holm during an appearance on the Tonight Show in October. “She’s a 19-time boxing world champion with 100% takedown defense and head-kick knockouts. She’s undefeated and an amazing athlete and the biggest threat definitely to me… She’s the type of fighter that you have to be very, very patient with. I feel like she’s going to try to keep distance and keep far away from me and get me frustrated to a point I’ll make a mistake and she can try and kick me in the head,” Rousey told Jimmy Fallon, adding, however, that she didn’t plan on letting that happen.
Against this backdrop, inadequately training and preparing for what she knew what was coming could certainly contribute to losing the championship belt to the challenger.
Why do you think Ronda Rousey lost to Holly Holm and who do you expect will prevail in the presumed inevitable rematch?
[Photo by Quinn Rooney / Getty Images]
Added: Reason No. 5, according to Lady Gaga on Instagram about pre-fight sportsmanship: “That’s what you get for not touching gloves!”