Ronda Rousey Emerges As UFC 196’s Biggest Winner After Holm Upset

Ronda Rousey never stepped into the octagon on Saturday night at UFC 196. The closest to ringside Ronda came — according to TMZ — was at a pro wrestling event in Los Angeles that Rousey attended.

So, how can the former champion — who lost her belt to Holly Holm at UFC 193 only months ago — be declared the biggest winner on a night Ronda Rousey doesn’t throw a punch?

With Holly Holm dropping the UFC women’s Bantamweight Championship to Miesha Tate in the fifth round, the upset victory increased Rousey’s chances of reclaiming the championship. That’s because Ronda now faces an opponent she’s beaten twice — including once in the first round — in a future title bout.

UFC president Dana White confirmed on ESPN‘s broadcast after the fight that Ronda will remain the No. 1 contender. Rousey will be the first person to get a crack at dethroning Miesha Tate, despite Holm suffering her first loss late in the fifth round, White explained.

“I think that Ronda now will fight Miesha Tate for the title. That’s what’s going to happen. That’s what I said before this fight even happened. Whoever wins tonight will fight Ronda for the title.”

While Dana could not confirm the location, White did explain that Ronda was not in attendance at the event. Instead, Rousey had to be contacted after the fight to learn of the results.

“I text Ronda. Ronda wasn’t watching the fight. I text Ronda, and she said, ‘What happened?’ I said, ‘Miesha just choked her unconscious.’ She said, ‘Looks like I gotta get back to work.’ “

Already, there’s rumblings that Rousey will return earlier than previously expected to fight Tate for the championship. White said on the ESPN broadcast following the fight that he would enquire if Ronda could return before the fall.

“She’s schedule to not come back until October or November. But it doesn’t mean I can’t ask… Listen, Ronda Rousey has worked very hard for three and a half years in this company. And believe me, she did anything that was asked of her and went above and beyond the call of duty. If she wants to stay out until October, I’ll let her do that.”

Although she is only 29-years-old, Miesha almost wasn’t in the octagon at all for UFC 196, as Tate considered retirement after being passed up for a third match against Rousey at UFC 193. Tate now has a four-fight winning streak under her belt, with her last loss coming in 2013 to Rousey.

In securing the upset victory, Miesha Tate may have had the same advantage that Holly Holm held in her November fight with Rousey. For UFC 193, Holm was able to train without the constant interruptions that popped up for Ronda because her celebrity continued to grow.

This time, however, Holly Holm was the one unable to focus solely on her opponent, Rolling Stone reported on Wednesday. Instead, media members continuously asked Holly about the next fight, the one promised to Rousey after her shocking loss in November. Miesha Tate, on the other hand, was allowed the opportunity to focus squarely on a game plan to beat Holm thanks to her underdog status.

Rousey continues to win outside of the octagon as her loss to Holly Holm did little to slow the marketability of the former champion. Ronda recently appeared on the cover of the SI Swimsuit edition wearing nothing more than body paint, the Inquisitr previously reported. That was after hosting Saturday Night Live earlier this year, not to mention the movies in the work for Ronda Rousey.

What do you think about Ronda Rousey returning to the octagon to fight Miesha Tate for the title? Leave your thoughts in the comment section below.

[Photo by Frazer Harrison/Getty Images]