Immediately following her devastating loss to Holly Holm, one question was on the minds of fans and media alike: How will Ronda Rousey return (if at all)?
You would have had to be living in Siberia to not hear about Rousey’s devastating loss at the hands, or more appropriately the shin, of Holly Holm at UFC 193. Hell, even my father, a 56 year-old University Librarian, asked me about the fight the next day. All the fame, hype, and hyperbole came crashing down on November 15th, 2015, leaving anyone with a cellphone or computer wondering what would come next.
Recovering from a brutal and highly publicized knockout is far from easy, just ask Michael Bisping. Although, there is certainly hope: look at the Brit’s latest run in the UFC (his most recent win against arguably the G.O.A.T: Anderson Silva). Clearly, Bisping and Rousey are two completely different fighters, and though we know a triumphant return is possible, the probability of one remains in doubt.
Here are the facts: Rousey got head kicked and then hammer fisted until she was unconscious. She lost momentum, confidence, and even happiness. Her film and media obligations undoubtedly took away from valuable time in the gym. Her cornering advice and coaching in general was extremely questionable. The air of invincibility surrounding her vanished in under ten minutes.
Looking forward to her return, one must ask: What has changed?
If anything, the Judoka’s media to training ratio has gotten worse. Although, TMZ reported her back in the gym on February 11th, one has to assume that the majority of her time has been spent filming movies and the odd atrocious commercial (Bud light). Besides her highly questionable priorities, Rousey has elected to remain with Glendale Fighting Club and coach Edmond Tarverdyan. A decision many, myself included, find inauspicious. It seems the only thing in her favor is the recent success of the new women’s bantamweight champion Miesha “Cupcake” Tate (a woman over whom she holds two decisive wins).
Taken at face value, it seems little has changed for the Olympic Bronze Medalist. What comes next is to address the conditions of her return. This may be the deciding factor.
At a post-fight interview on SportsCentre, UFC president Dana White explained that Rousey would get a title shot against Tate. What didn’t sit well with many people, myself included, was the manner in which Rousey reportedly responded to Tate’s win. White claims after texting the Bronze Medalist the result of the fight she responded, “It looks like I’ve got to get back to work”. The implications of this comment are illuminating in many ways.
What her comment implies is that she will resume training, solely based on Tate’s win. Though, this is good for those who wish to see her return, many question if her response would be the same had Holm been the victor on March 5th. We can speculate endlessly on how Rousey would have reacted had Holm won, the fact remains; White has stated that she will receive the next title shot.
Of course, White has been known to change his mind. Snubbing Tate after her win over Jessica “Evil” Eye and his dismissal of Frankie “The Answer” Edgar are just two recent examples. One gets the sense though, that when superstars are concerned, White is a man of his word. So what can we expect from the Californian’s possible return against Tate?
In lieu of a long breakdown for an unconfirmed fight, lets stick to the main talking points. Tate has been more active. She has more confidence and momentum. Tate is more proficient in all aspects of the game. Tate has a better camp and coaches.
Rousey is shaken. She remains bogged down with media obligations and with a subpar camp. She may have more pressure to succeed than in any of her previous bouts. The only source of confidence and indeed hope she has is that she has beaten Tate twice before.
In my estimation, Rousey should be the underdog in this contest. And while she holds wins over the Las Vegas native, I don’t see her taking this rubber match in any way, shape, or form. We don’t need to employ bad MMA math or consider past results to come to a probable conclusion for the Judoka’s return. The fact is: facing a woman you’ve twice beaten does not offset all the repercussions of getting head kicked unconscious. Can she win her return fight? Certainly. Do I like her chances? Not at all.