At one point Ronda Rousey seemed undefeatable in MMA but after a brutal knockout against Holly Holm at UFC 193, Alex Rea explores the psychological implications of her defeat and whether she will ever step back into the Octagon.
If fighting really is 90 per cent mental and 10 per cent technique, then perhaps Ronda Rousey would be wise to consider her UFC future.
The former bantamweight queen displayed incredible bravery in describing the depths of her despair after being dethroned by Holly Holm at UFC 193 in November. But what was clear from the raw and emotionally-charged interview with Ellen DeGeneres last week is that she is struggling to rebuild from the rubble of her collapsed sovereignty. And it was unsettling to see.
Here, was a once-in-a-generation fighter and one of the most dominant champions the sport of MMA has ever known, exposing her vulnerability and choking back the tears. During the interview, she imparted that she considered suicidal thoughts in the immediate aftermath of the Holm bludgeoning.
“I was in the medical room,” she said, “and I was down in the corner, I was sitting in the corner, and I was like, ‘What am I anymore if I’m not this?’ I was literally sitting there thinking about killing myself at that exact second. I was like, ‘I’m nothing.’ I’m like, ‘What do I do anymore? No one gives a s*** about me anymore without this.’ ”
But what do we take from this? Having suffered the first defeat of her MMA career in a fight millions – including herself – expected her to win, is this mind-set to be expected? Or is this an indication of something much more concerning?
There are a lot of things to consider, both from a psychological perspective and a physical standpoint. Ever since her Octagon debut in 2013, the UFC has painted a picture of Rousey as an indomitable force. They have never missed an opportunity to ram home the idea she was essentially superhuman and likewise, neither did she.
And for a time, we all revelled in that. After all, ‘Rowdy’ didn’t just beat her opponents, she annihilated them. Talk of retirement surfaced because it seemed no one would be able to dislodge her.
Then Holm shattered that veil of invincibility in emphatic fashion, making her look human and levelling the legend with a kick to the head. Had the interview on ‘Ellen’ been in December then it’s possible her such thoughts wouldn’t be so outrageous. But we’re four months on from the loss. How can she be expected to rematch Holm this year after such an admission? And when her schedule is packed with obligations between now and at least May.
We’re only seven weeks into 2016 and she’s already adorned the front cover of Sports Illustrated, hosted ‘Saturday Night Live’ and appeared on ‘The Tonight Show’. She has acting roles in ‘Mile 22’ and the ‘Road House’ to come all before she even steps foot into the gym. Does that give her the necessary time to work on the technical deficiencies Holm emphatically exposed?
Every day she spends away from training is a step further behind and defeat again could leave a wound no amount of time can heal.
Then factor in the blow itself. The kind of knockout she was dealt takes a long time recover from.
Yes, she looked good on that SI front cover but no amount of body paint can cover up the far-reaching effects of that impact. She said so herself: “I really don’t remember most of it.’’ Given her commitments outside the Octagon, it’s clear she no longer needs the UFC.
Hanging up her gloves is certainly something to consider and even if she does decide to return, Rousey should be given all the time and support she needs because at the moment, she’s fighting a battle every day, and that’s even before she meets Holm again.