Ronda Rousey returns to the Octagon at UFC 207 Friday night as she takes on current champion Amanda Nunes. It will be Ronda’s first fight in more than a year but surprisingly, Rousey hasn’t had much to say about it.
Opinions about Ronda Rousey vary wildly in the mixed martial arts community. Several fighters have spoken out about Rousey’s brash and even sometimes volatile attitude. Others brush her antics off as Ronda simply being a competitor focused on winning. But one thing fellow fighters seem to agree on is a frustration over the fact that Rousey is seemingly held to a different standard than the rest of them, citing Ronda’s recent absence from promoting the very event she’s headlining.
“I guess in a sense you can understand because she wants to be as mentally prepared as she can to come back strong, but so does everybody else in this room,” UFC fighter Ray Borg said to Fox Sports regarding Rousey’s absence from the press junket. “So it’s also kind of weird that she just got to bypass everything. When Conor got pulled from a whole fight card from it.”
Borg’s suggestion that Conor McGregor was punished for the very same thing Ronda Rousey is doing or not doing is a little far-fetched. After all, Ronda Rousey never took to social media to express her disdain for the UFC’s promotion requirements of fighters. And unlike McGregor, Rousey never threatened to retire out of spite — at least not publicly. Still, the notion that Ronda Rousey is Dana White’s golden child isn’t all that far-fetched.
There is no other fighter in UFC history that White has been so patient with in regard to their return to the Octagon following a loss. Rousey’s loss to Holly Holm was her first and Ronda was left emotionally devastated, even admitting that for a brief second she considered suicide. Ronda also suffered a significant injury to her jaw during the fight and then had subsequent knee surgery, but Rousey was keeping herself busy with movie projects as well. All the while, White maintained there was no pressure for Ronda to return until she was ready.
Now that Ronda Rousey is coming back, it would seem that Dana White would be forcing her into the role of pitching pay-per-view sales of UFC 207. Instead, Rousey has shown up for two quick stare-downs of Nunes and the weigh-in with nothing much to say. Is Ronda’s lack of participation a blatant middle finger to the other fighters on the card, or is Rousey’s quiet return not only her way of preparing for the fight but part of the UFC marketing plan as well?
For Rousey’s last fight, Ronda let her emotions get the better of her at the weigh-ins. Rousey and Holm had to be separated by White as Ronda lunged in and began to shout at her opponent. Many people noted that Ronda appeared especially thin at that weigh-in and bloated at the fight, suggesting Rousey didn’t properly train for the weight cut versus Holm and therefore Ronda was trying to intimidate Holm mentally ahead of the fight. Rousey then went on a social media tirade against Holm. Those tactics didn’t bode so well for Ronda.
— #UFC207 (@ufc) December 29, 2016
This time around, Rousey appeared to be more physically prepared at the UFC 207 weigh-ins. Ronda projected the quiet confidence that used to ooze from her before the loss. Rousey and Nunes wore matching faces of stone as they stared down each other before Rousey walked off the stage. This Ronda Rousey fits the narrative of UFC 207’s “Fear the Return” ad campaign, so it’s possible that Ronda’s silence is nothing more than just part of the marketing ploy.
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Former rival Miesha Tate, however, told Fox Sports’ Skip and Shannon earlier this week that she thinks Ronda’s absence from notable media appearances for UFC 207 is a sign that Rousey doesn’t want to be fighting.
“Maybe she doesn’t want to do it. Maybe she said ‘look, I’ll do it under one condition, I’ll do it my way.’ And so I just think maybe she doesn’t want to be here doing this right now,” Tate reportedly said of Rousey’s failure to do publicity, according to MMA Fighting.
And while Tate may have a point, another fighter on the UFC 207 card may have the true answer as to why Ronda Rousey has been absent. Ronda Rousey’s past and legacy speak for itself and so there is no need for her to perform the song and dance of press days.
“She’s kind of like footing the bill for most of us,” Flyweight fighter Louis Smolka said. “I mean people are paying to watch her fight. Some people might be (paying to watch us fight) but pretty much everyone is here to watch Ronda fight.”
[Featured Image by Harry How/Getty Images]