Very few athletes have fallen as far and disappeared as quickly as the Ultimate Fighting Championship’s ex champion and star, Ronda Rousey. She burst onto the Mixed Martial Arts scene 6 years ago as a 24 year old, and arguably became the biggest phenom in the sport. She was the first American woman to win a metal, The Bronze, in the 2008 Summer Olympics. Then, the California native, blonde and beautiful, added brashness and intensity that saw her beat down every woman that entered the ring. She became the Bantamweight Champion, her infamous arm bar made her a legend, and fighters, fans, and Hollywood gushed.
Ronda owned the sport. She won 12 fights in a row, 11 in the 1st round, and even ESPN had her back and named her the best female athlete ever! But then, almost like Buster Douglas’ shocking knock out of Mike Tyson, the unbelievable became believable. At UFC 193, on November 15, 2015, against incredible odds, Holly Holm flipped the script and put a nasty, heavy beat down on Rousey. The sports world was shocked and the upset would prove the beginning of the end for Ronda. Holm proved the cliche of having a punchers chance to be true.
But Ronda tried to comeback a year later and faced Amanda Nunes. No longer was Ronda undefeated and she was surrounded by question marks. Athletes are usually remembered how their fans want to see them, and though Ronda was now the underdog, she still clung to that aura of invincibility. But soon enough, it was obvious the arm bar, the first round killer, was elsewhere and long gone. The woman who once engaged in feuds and brashness was a shadow of herself. The Queen of the Ring was gone and her empire was crumbling.
Ronda’s career in and outside the ring is firmly enmeshed in UFC history and she’ll never be forgotten. However, there are many images and moments she, and the UFC would love to forget. Help, help me Ronda. Will you make a comeback or fade into the sunset?
15. Out Of Shape
In 2016, Ronda was a different lady. This image is one that she and the UFC would like to forget as it shows the result of her mind being in a different place. She was no longer the petite, little blonde that could snap a fighters arm in half. She wasn’t even the champion but her ego and size continued to grow. Her fans were still loyal and believed she could recapture her old form, but more objective fans of the sport saw her unwinding.
Some called her a sellout, a marketing ego maniac, and others felt sorry for her. She was now in line of the long list of fighters who the sport had suddenly passed by. She was old news, she even seemed depressed, or maybe the role of being a bully was too heavy a burden.
Though the UFC has mostly managed to escape the dreaded CTE epidemic, one has to wonder if concussions played a role in Rousey’s fall from grace. In this photo, the spirited, confident, and graceful persona is gone. Her eyes and forehead look confused, distracted, and unable to focus. Her body looks tight, stiff, and even disheveled. And what is she thinking and doing? Is she watering plants with a plastic bowl? It’s an eerie photo of a woman and fighter who once seemed so vital and in control and now is lurking about, isolated and confused.
13. Ronda and Dana Rumors
Her most recent images cast a shadow over these, at the start of her career. This was Ronda and her boss, Dana White, getting cozy in front of the media at a 2013 Fox after party. Can anyone who is of a healthy mind and body change this much in 3 years while in their late 20s? There always seemed to be unspoken rumors about their relationship, and this almost prom like photo is revealing.
At the height of her popularity, Dana certainly has a firm resting place for his left hand on her hip. Dana always had his flock of ladies and this photo lead to plenty of speculation of action behind the scenes. This is also not even close to being the same person and fully captures her transformation.
12. The Interview
Just before the Nunes fight, Rousy was interviewed by Elise Elliot on A Current Affair. Rousey has always been temperamental and explosive. During the report, Rousey spent much of the time demonstrating flips, arm bars, and chokes to Elliot. When Eliot tried to practice what she learned on Ronda, Rousey got very bent out of shape. She acted like Elise was purposely trying to hurt her and called in for backup. If Nunes had seen this, it must have given her great confidence. After all, if a petite, Australian news reporter could almost choke out her future opponent, she’d certainly be in for an easy night. Also, it doesn’t bode well for the UFC to have their once, baddest woman on the planet getting beaten up during an interview.
11. A Handful
Yeah, some people don’t think this real but Dana certainly is smiling about something. And what is that something? It’s a handful and a hug that further emphasized the two had feelings for each other. Who knows what goes on behind the scenes in businesses like this, but one thing is for certain, and that is Dana gets his way. It always seems like where there is smoke there is fire, and there are just too many occasions where Dana’s hands are resting a little too comfortably. But let’s also face the fact that Ronda is not going to do anything she doesn’t want too, and even if this is just harmless flirting between the two, it’s their decision to make. You wonder how their relationship is now, with Ronda’s star power having taken a hit.
10. How Her Relationship With Travis Browne Started
Around the time that her book My Fight came out, news began to surface that Ronda Rousey was dating fellow MMA fighter Travis Browne, after the two were seen in public. The only problem was, Browne was apparently still married to Jenna Renee Webb. Webb laid some serious allegations against Browne, claiming that Browne had been an abusive partner in their marriage and she was disappointed that a strong female figure like Rousey would associate herself with him:
‘I expected more from her. She should be ashamed of herself,’ the 27-year-old said, according to the New York Post, adding: ‘It’s only a matter of time that she sees his true colors.’
Webb also shared her allegations on Instagram, captioning distrubing images of her with bruises with: “Probably one of the hardest decisions I’ve ever made was walking away from this life and starting over. I’m still ashamed for staying as long as I did.”
9. Her Jimmy Fallon Outfit
Surely, the UFC wants us to forget this stylish nightmare! Before UFC 193 in 2015, Ronda looked like this on The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon. Are you kidding me? Come on Ronda, this is why people have fashion assistants and advisers. What’s with the hair? I’m no hairdresser, but cornrows on the side with an 80s foo-foo top is just wrong. I wonder how many cans of hairspray she used. Now onto the top, or the lack there of. I fully appreciate the risque, but this is just in poor taste. Did someone forget this is The Late Show? But it got a lot worse as Ronda talked about her upcoming fight with Holly Holm.
She knew Holm was undefeated and her vicious head-kick knockouts were deadly. Ronda boasted to the world she was sure she could close the distance and get inside to work her game. And we all know how that went. I’m sure she regrets eating that shin and her words.
8. The Leg
The hype surrounding Ronda had never been higher and reached Chuck Liddell proportions. The stare down in any combat sport is a moment to hype the fight, create excitement, and generate buzz. But again, as seen in this shot, her stylist failed her miserably. Ronda certainly doesn’t look like a lean, mean, fighting machine. She’s bursting through the seams and looks completely disinterested in turning away the pizza to get in shape. And, no pun intended, to the white elephant trunk in the room, is that a leg or a real elephant trunk? Where did her calves go? Even Dana seems to intentionally not look at her, and that’s saying a lot because he always seems to have at least one eye and one hand on his favorite student.
7. A left hook
The crowd was standing and blood thirsty as the fight began. But upon a closer look, Ronda was off, looked a little soft and unfocused. Rousey wildly charged Holm and tried to chase but Holm proved a little too elusive. Ronda’s punches and clinches were futile and it was obvious Holm was stronger and defensively prepared. Ronda finally got her down and went for her famous arm bar, but when Holly reversed and the two faced each other, Ronda was breathing heavily and Holly gained momentum. Holm landed a straight left and WOW- Ronda was bloodied. Shock filled the air as Ronda was beatable and exposed. Holm landed combinations, leg kicks, knees, took Ronda down, and HOLLY COW- she won round 1! This is the image that would lead to the UFC forgetting all about Ronda.
6. The kick heard around the world
If there was ever a perfect photo of the beginning of the end of an athlete’s career, this is it. After the first round, Ronda’s corner tried to pump her ego but this night was now very different than all other nights. Holm came right out and nailed Ronda with a left and then another combination. Could this really be happening? It was unraveling right before our eyes. Holm landed a kick, no one sat down. Holm landed lefts and Ronda, who chewed and spit out every previous opponent, was vulnerable. Ronda charged but Holm’s shots had shifted Ronda’s equilibrium and she stumbled. She and the crowd were stunned and when Ronda came at her again she ate a left and went DOWN! Then Ronda stood and this left kick landed! BAM. Ronda crumbled. OUT. It was over. The queen of the UFC was dethroned. Unbelievable.
5. It’s All Over
No UFC fan will ever forget this image though the UFC and Ronda wishes they would. Ronda Rousey, who once danced over the beaten bodies she had left behind, who intimidated opponents inside and outside the ring, was left beaten and bloodied. Everyone was shocked and this was one of the most surprising upsets in UFC “herstory.” It would soon filter through to everyone who watched that something bigger happened. Ronda was different. Whether she was preoccupied with her burgeoning acting career, relationships, or the pressure had gotten too big, she was dreadfully unprepared. Her game plan, conditioning, and respect for her opponent was exposed.
4. The Comeback
On December 30, 2016, just over a year since her unbelievable loss to Holm, Rousey was back at it. Holm’s reign as champ was short lived, and the new champion was Amanda Nunes. The belt was on the line at UFC 207 inside the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas. Though Nunes won her last 4 fights, 3 of them by finishing her opponent, Ronda was back and she had cast her spell on the media and her fans. She trotted and stared like she couldn’t wait to get that chip off her shoulder and Nunes was also fired up. Rousey seemed to be in much better shape, more focused, and everyone wondered if the Ronda of old was back, and ready to reclaim the crown.
This is another great shot of Ronda eating a right that she and the UFC must have nightmares over. The two women met in the center of the ring and almost immediately it was apparent this was going to be a short night. Nunes was lose and light on her feet while Ronda was heavy and plodding. Nunes let her hands go and Ronda was retreating. BOOM, BAM, left, right, left, and Rousey had no defense and no answer. Nunes punched with a deadly intent and every punch hurt Ronda. Twenty seconds into the fight Ronda was hurt and she was now hunted. Her face was riddled with punches and reverberated through the arena. Forty seconds into the fight, Nunes landed a beautiful left, right, left combination that sent Ronda running.
2. Going down
Rousey was in serious trouble as the Brazilian punched her lights out. Nunes was sharp and Rousey was out on her feet. She tried to clinch but was easily brushed aside. She stumbled around helplessly. Nunes turned on the gas and dropped bombs ala Chuck Liddell and nailed Ronda with a left, right, left, right and as Ronda collapsed, Herb Dean stepped in. He saved her from serious injury as everyone who saw this could feel the pain. Ronda was beat up and her career was over. He waved off the fight as Nunez, almost as if out of revenge for everyone Rousey had humiliated, pranced around the ring with her forefinger to her lips. Shhhhhhhhh. At that moment fans were immediately wondering where the unstoppable force had gone.
By the end of UFC 207 and the year 2016, Ronda seemed a shell of her former self and defeated. Ronda and the UFC had lost a golden goose. Ronda gave birth to women”s MMA. It was featured on the Ultimate Fighter, new weight classes were scheduled to be added, and a ferocious new genre of fighters were celebrated. Wrestlers and Jiu Jitsu blackbelts were replaced with stand up, bomb throwing women that weren’t just “obviously” attractive. Ronda was now on the outside looking in, a victim of her own success, and unable to change her style and adapt. She was also noticeably slower, weaker, and more unlikable. Whether it was the commercials of her favoring fast food cheeseburgers or working in film, the end of her run was here.
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