Ronda Rousey was expected to return for UFC 200, but with that now off the table, the window is closing on when fans might see her make a return to the octagon.
In November 2015 at UFC 193, the then-unbeaten fighter ran into her first career loss, suffering a brutal knockout at the hands and feet of Holly Holm.
Most fans were stunned because in just under six minutes, she went from looking unbeatable to looking like her career was over.
Her actions that followed poured gasoline on that speculation as well. Rather than attend the press conference afterward, she opted to meet with doctors in spite of the fact that other fighters have suffered worse knockouts and been able to attend.
She then laid low for two weeks before posting a family photo on Instagram on Thanksgiving.
That was followed by an ESPN Magazine interview. It wouldn’t be until her appearance on Ellen that she would speak publicly about the loss and what it had done to her psyche.
Even now, it appears that Ronda Rousey is more focused on her career outside MMA than her next fight, a fact that UFC President Dana White — one of her biggest supporters — confirmed in a recent interview with Dan Patrick.
“I would really like her to fight this year,” White said Wednesday (May 11) on The Dan Patrick Show. “I hope she does. That’s up to Ronda, Ronda is going to come out and let us know when she’s going to fight again. That’s up to her.”
While White is holding out hope for her to make an appearance in November at Madison Square Garden — one year removed from her devastating loss — Ronda Rousey herself may have other ideas.
She is starring as the lead in the upcoming remake of Roadhouse, and she recently inked a three-picture deal with the Lifetime Movie Network, though that could be more of a project development deal instead of a starring vehicle.
Perhaps more troubling for the UFC brass is that Ronda has taken very limited interest in returning to the octagon any time soon.
Recently, TMZ surfaced a beach workout video featuring an unwitting Ronda Rousey shadowboxing and appearing somewhat out-of-shape compared to her last appearance.
The video prompted jeers from Cris Cyborg, who has been pursuing a fight with Rousey for years.
Still, all hope may not be lost. Ronda recently showed a little more of that classic fighting spirit in an alleged encounter with Paige VanZant, a strawweight fighter.
VanZant was at a Reebok shoot with Rousey and requested a picture. Ronda, according to rival Miesha Tate and later confirmed by VanZant, cussed out her fellow UFC cohort, calling her “fair-weather” for simply congratulating Holm on the UFC 193 victory.
While the press hasn’t been too kind to Ronda over the incident — and even legendary Hall of Famer Randy Couture came out in an interview urging Rousey not to take things so personally — the fact that she cared enough to confront VanZant shows that the loss is still eating at her, and that it could be something she hopes to rectify soon.
If she does make her return in 2016 — and again, it is not looking likely according to Dana White — the identity of her opponent is up in the air. While she may want to get revenge against Holm, she would also likely want to regain the title first by facing the winner of Tate and Amanda Nunes at UFC 200.
— Sports Illustrated (@SInow) May 12, 2016
But what do you think, readers?
Will Ronda Rousey ever step back into the octagon, and if she does, will she be new and improved or a shell of her former self? Sound off in the comments section below.
[Photo by Frazer Harrison/Getty Images]