You did it to yourself, you focused on yourself, and in the end, you only hurt yourself.
These are the easiest words to say to former champion Ronda Rousey following her devastating 48-second loss to Amanda Nunes at UFC 207. The loss was shocking. It came in such devastating fashion, and proved many things, including Rousey’s need to change plenty about her fighting career.
First and foremost, the critics are loud. They’re correct, too. Rousey needs to get rid of her head coach, Edmond Tarverdyan. Tarverdyan didn’t seem to have a grasp of what was happening to his champion fighter during her first career loss to Holly Holm at UFC 193, telling her that she was doing just fine when the rest of the world watching the fight knew that her time as champion was coming to an end.
The same incompetence was shown by Tarverdyan at UFC 207 when audio and video was leaked of his advice to Rousey. In the 48 seconds that should serve as a reality check to both fighter and coach, Rousey appeared to be, at best, an average fighter who was desperate to save face after the Holm defeat. Tarverdyan’s reality check reveals that, for two straight fights, his coaching, proven verbally, is average at best.
Formerly labeled as invincible, the baddest woman on the planet no longer has an unstoppable legacy train chugging along. It has come to a complete halt. With a bad attitude and poor game plan, Rousey was on the receiving end of a head kick that forever changed her and her MMA career. While the media and critics slammed Rousey in the days and months following her loss to Holm, her fans held out hope that it was just one loss, and she would come back to prove she is still the greatest fighter in the world.
She went dark in the media following the loss, only appearing in controlled environments where she could manage the headline and stay within her comfort level. For over a year following her fight, Rousey controlled the scene, proving she had even more power than the UFC’s biggest star, Conor McGregor, who never hid after his loss to Nate Diaz at UFC 196.
UFC President Dana White has always stood by his stance that Rousey is a bigger star in the sport than McGregor despite McGregor’s feat of becoming the first fighter to hold titles in two different weight classes simultaneously. McGregor fought four times in the time frame when Rousey was out of the Octagon, going 3-1 and making history in the process. While White’s biggest star hid in the shadows, McGregor took chances in multiple weight classes and bounced back quickly after a loss.
McGregor’s willingness to move forward, no matter what, is what made him the biggest draw in 2016. Meanwhile, Rousey has hidden when the going has gotten tough. Following her loss to Nunes at UFC 207, Rousey released a statement to ESPN saying she needed some time to decide on her future. Before she decides on her next fight, if she ever has one, she say she needs to make a few personal decisions.
First, if Rousey wants to fight again, she needs to remove Tarverdyan from her camp. She needs to find a new team.
Second, Rousey need to realize that women’s MMA has grown past her. She can’t just show up and expect to win.
Finally, Rousey needs to come to terms that every star athlete has critics in both fans and media. She only makes it worse when she avoids the reality of it all.
As it all goes downhill for Rousey following her second straight loss, most of this falls on her own decisions, both personally and professionally. White said women would never fight in the UFC. There is no ignoring that Rousey made White a liar when she headlined the first women’s fight in the Octagon with Liz Carmouche. There is also no denying that Rousey took the UFC even more mainstream and empowered women’s MMA fans and fighters alike.
While we should never ignore what happened as Rousey rose to the top, she can no longer ignore that her decisions caused her downfall. She wouldn’t change her camp after her first loss, she avoided the media and critics leading up to her second loss, and now, when many people say her time as a fighter is done, she gave us no other choice when she walked out of the Octagon without giving an interview.
Rousey’s prepared statement left plenty of unanswered questions following UFC 207, but Rousey isn’t dead. Her career is only finished in the eyes of her critics and the arm-chair “quarterbacks” of the MMA world. Rousey can take it all back under her control, but only if she wants to.