Ronda Rousey is no question a groundbreaking mixed martial arts fighter. Her time in MMA has been short but impactful, and she has opened more doors for women in the sport than any other fighter past and present.
But earlier this week, she gave a troubling interview that built on some uncertainties the public has seen for months concerning her short-lived reign. Following her brutal knockout defeat at the hands and feet of new UFC Bantamweight Champion Holly Holm, Ronda Rousey told Ellen DeGeneres that after she realized what had happened to her, she contemplated suicide.
MMA fans pounced, accusing Rousey of seeking attention to steal back some of the waning interest in her brand after being clearly outmatched at UFC 193 in November, 2015. While there may be kernels of truth in those criticisms, it is not a position worth defending too vigorously as Ronda Rousey does have a history of suicide in her immediate family.
She could very well have been as depressed as she let on to DeGeneres, and if that’s the case, it makes her career even more of a House of Cards than it was prior to the Holm loss.
This commentary is neither to “prove” nor “disprove” that Ronda Rousey was truly suicidal. That truth is meaningless in deciphering the following three lies that you probably believed prior to the events of the last three-plus months.
Ronda Rousey Lie No. 1: She Was A Good Fighter.
Rousey was revered as being a “good” MMA fighter, but the evidence says otherwise. It isn’t that she lacked skill or athleticism. She had that in abundance. But she hadn’t come close to mastering the attributes that a true Hall of Fame fighter needs to have.
Brock Lesnar said it best this week in comments to ESPN’s Jonathan Coachman.
“I think one thing that I learned, and that she should have learned a long time ago, is that you have to learn how to lose before you can actually win,” said Lesnar. “That was one thing that my coach taught me at a very young age because I was a bad loser whenever I’d get beat; you’ve got to be able to get back on the horse. This life is very precious and very short, and one fight isn’t going to make or break her career. She’s just got to get back on the horse again and figure it out, and she will.”
Lesnar probably has more confidence in Rousey’s “dust-yourself-off” ability than most MMA fans. Her decision not to attend the post-fight presser and to stay hidden for weeks following the defeat showed a lack of maturity that even the most mediocre of competitors in any sport possess.
It was only a matter of time before the intangibles outpaced her ability.
Ronda Rousey Lie No. 2: She Was The ‘Mentally Strongest’
In the weeks leading up to her defeat, Rousey insisted that she was the only person who could be the face of UFC, a marketing machine, actress, and world champion MMA fighter.
After the defeat, UFC President Dana White famously insisted that Rousey was “one of the mentally strongest people I’ve ever met in my life” in comments reported by Bloody Elbow.
But the Ronda Rousey on Ellen’s couch was none of those things. Everyone loses in life — athletes and non-athletes alike. Many do multiple times per year in small and/or big ways. It generally takes a lot more than a single loss to get anyone thinking the types of thoughts that Rousey said she felt, and it was a highly unusual admission for someone who is supposed to be among the top competitors in their sport.
The comments took Holly Holm off-guard as she has been encouraging towards Rousey in the aftermath of their fight. Holm knows what it’s like to lose for certain. She lost a handful of times as a professional boxer, and was absolutely decimated by French boxer Anne Sophie Mathis a few years ago.
Unlike Rousey, Holm immediately took a rematch with Mathis and won. Here’s what she had to say about Ronda’s comments.
“When I heard that she said that, for me it’s one of those things it’s like, ‘How do I respond to that?'” Holm said to Sherdog’s Tristen Critchfield. “I don’t want to say I’m sorry because I think on a competitive level for me, if somebody was to say they’re sorry after [beating me], it’s like, ‘No, I’m a competitor. I’m not a charity case.'”
“I feel like that’s something the best thing is for me not to say anything at all. I don’t want to say that I’m glad that she felt that way and I don’t want to say, ‘Oh I’m so sorry.’ It’s something I think that you have to dig through on your own. … In the long run, she’ll be stronger mentally from it.”
Ronda Rousey Lie No. 3: She Was The ‘Baddest Woman on the Planet’
In Mike Tyson’s heyday, he often commented that he was the “baddest man on the planet,” and Rousey’s run through women’s MMA had many invoking comparisons between her and “Iron Mike” of old.
But Tyson really was the baddest man on the planet for a long time. He was 37-0 in a long-established sport before anyone ever took him out. Ronda Rousey was 12-0 in a fledgling sport with what Lesnar rightly called “a weak division.”
That’s not to disparage women like Miesha Tate or Holly Holm or Cris Cyborg. They are all very good fighters, but they have far outpaced their remaining competition. The sport is new, and it’s only natural the ranks would be thinner than they will be in, say, 10 years.
Just look at how Holly Holm was able to end Rousey’s reign of terror from relative obscurity. Hardcore fight fans knew who she was, and many weren’t as shocked as the millions watching around the world when she landed that knockout head kick in the second round at UFC 193, but most people were just seeing Holly Holm for the first time when she rocketed past Ronda Rousey.
Expect more of that in the years to come.
What Ronda Rousey was, was a pioneer. She had more talent and hunger for a brief stretch of time, but it didn’t take long for the competition to surpass her. And with thoughts of suicide after only ONE loss, a MMA cage is probably the last place she needs to be right now.
But what do you think, readers?
Is Ronda Rousey one big exposed lie now, or does she deserve more credit than that? Sound off in the comments section.
[Image via Ronda Rousey Official Facebook Page]