Ronda Rousey: New Rumors About Her Mental Game, Being 'Consoled' After Nunes Face-Off, And Ducking 'Cyborg' Fight

Darien Cavanaugh

Ronda Rousey has faced increased scrutiny and rumors in recent days in the lead-up to her highly anticipated MMA comeback.

Rousey is expected to return to the Octagon for UFC 207 on December 30 to take on reigning UFC women's bantam weight champion Amanda Nunes. It will be Rousey's first fight since her stunning knockout loss at the hands of Holly Holm at UFC 193 on November 15, 2015. Rousey lost her bantam weight title in that fight.

She'll be fighting to reclaim the belt from Nunes.

As ESPN's Brian Campbell noted, by the time Rousey steps into the cage with Nunes, 412 days will have passed since her last fight. That's an exceptionally long layoff for a professional fighter who isn't recovering from a significant physical injury. Rousey had fought three times in nine months prior to that.

And Rousey's layoff has been marred by questions about her mental game.

— MMA Takeout (@mma_takeout) November 14, 2016

"Nobody heard from Rousey for weeks after she was defeated, as she disappeared entirely from the public eye she once embraced," writes Taylor.

To be fair, Taylor is exaggerating a little. It wasn't "weeks" of "complete radio silence." Rousey sat down for an interview with ESPN's Ramona Shelburne on November 27, just 12 days after the fight, for an upcoming profile Shelburne was writing. So, Rousey did briefly step out of the spotlight she seemed so found of before her loss, but it wasn't for as curiously a long time as Taylor implies.

However, when Rousey did return to the public eye, it was obvious her confidence had been shaken, perhaps permanently.

"I'm just really f*cking sad," Rousey told Shelburne, who described the former champ's voice as "so soft you have to lean in to hear her."

At the time, Rousey still had stitches in her lips and a few of her teeth still felt "unstable" from a vicious high kick Holm delivered to her face.

"It might be three to six months before I can eat an apple, let alone take an impact," Rousey said.

It's common for fighters to be rattled and crestfallen after a loss, especially if it is their first in an otherwise impressive career. The overall tone of Shelburne's profile of Rousey suggests that this was something different, that the MMA superstar had been shaken to her core.

Granted, there were moments of hope and determination.

"I need to come back. I need to beat this chick," Rousey said of Holm. "Who knows if I'm going to pop my teeth out or break my jaw or rip my lip open. I have to f*cking do it."

But there were many more moments that reeked of doubt and even depression.

Shelburne's profile piece includes details about how Rousey hid her face from the press at the airport when returning home. Rousey had also turned her phone off and wouldn't look at it, claiming that she had only had "long conversations" with her Argentinian Mastiff, Mochi.

"I feel like I'm grieving the death of the person who could've done that," Rousey said, referring to all her previous ambitions as a fighter.

When she appeared on The Ellen DeGeneres Show the following February, she again raised eyebrows by suggesting that losing her title had — briefly — inspired suicidal thoughts.

"Honestly, my thought in the medical room, I was sitting in the corner and was like, 'What am I anymore if I'm not this?'" Rousey told DeGeneres, according to a partial ESPN transcript. "Literally sitting there thinking about killing myself. In that exact second, I'm like, 'I'm nothing. What do I do anymore? No one gives a sh*t about me anymore without this.'"

Rousey made it clear that it was just a passing thought, "an exact second," but the candid moment nevertheless caused concern among her fans.

In the past few days, new questions and rumors have come to light regarding the fighter's mental game.

In his BJPenn post, Taylor addresses rumors that Ronda Rousey had to be "consoled" after her face-off with Nunes at the UFC 205 weigh-ins on November 11. The face-off was to promote Rousey and Nunes' upcoming fight.

As Taylor reports, when respected MMA and wrestling journalist and publisher Dave Meltzer was asked via Twitter whether rumors that Rousey needed to be consoled after the face-off were accurate, he simply replied, "True."

— CD (@codoll53) November 23, 2016

— Dave Meltzer (@davemeltzerWON) November 23, 2016

— FOX Sports: UFC (@UFCONFOX) November 22, 2016

There have been rumors of a "super fight" between the two for years, and Cyborg has even dropped down to 140 pounds on two separate occasions in hopes of securing a match. But nothing has ever come of it, and Cyborg says that rests squarely on Rousey's shoulders, according to a recent interview with Fox News.

"Really if Ronda really wanted to fight me, she would've already did it," Cyborg told Fox. "(Whether) she wins or loses her next fight, she's not gonna fight me. This I already know. She doesn't like challenging herself."

Cyborg threw another jab at Rousey, adding, "If she lose, she's gonna retire."

She also questioned why Rousey was getting a shot at the title in her first fight in over a year after her loss. Cyborg argued that Rousey should have to take a rematch with Holm or face another top contender before getting a championship fight. She alluded to Rousey getting special treatment.

In early November, even UFC President Dana White acknowledged that Ronda Rousey was probably almost done with MMA and was planning to focus on her acting career, the New York Post reported.

So the rumors of Ronda Rousey losing her fighting spirit, or even that she was consoled after her face-off with Nunes, may have some truth to them. Win or lose, we'll know after December 30.

Either way, she's an amazing fighter and role model who deserves respect.

[Featured Image by Michael Reaves/Getty Images]

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