Has there been a more severe fall from sporting greatness than “Rowdy” Ronda Rousey? I don’t think so. So, yes, in several ways, takedowns of her legacy are fair game.
In a few short days since Rousey’s defeat, I’ve heard several “talking heads,” whether on television or sports radio, question how good Rousey actually was. In sports, it’s relatively normal to question an athlete’s greatness on the heels of a losing streak. However, it’s difficult to fairly and accurately judge athletes on short bursts of time. With Rousey, that’s mostly what we had until Holly Holm exposed a big problem. Amanda Nunes then showed the world last Friday night that “the problem” whatever it seems to be had still not been addressed. Nunes defeated Rousey in 48 seconds. It takes longer to eat a hamburger.
Some of the basis for the reaction to her collapse is moored to the fact that Rousey choked hard, and the media, due largely to her celebrity and needle-moving ability, cared enough to bring it up.
With the benefit of hindsight, we can conclude that she was not nearly as well-rounded as she needed to be. But to say she was “not that good” would mean we would have to erase her 12 fights of near-complete dominance that came before these two loses.
Rousey crushed women in the Octagon in a matter of seconds, and pundits mentioned her among her male peers on pound-for-pound lists.
Rousey set the standard by which to judge her (which many people have). She was the one with a thousand setups for an armbar no one could stop. She was the one who created the aura opponents bought into (until they didn’t). Then just over a year ago, we were left to wonder why the world had turned on her after Holm. The animus she experienced was amplified by the starkness between what people thought they knew of Rousey and how she looked falling on her face.
Much of the criticism and vile spewed about Rousey following the Holm loss, and what’s come so far after Nunes, is what happens when stunning failure collides with a reputation for dominance in the age of social media. People are haters, and Rousey was a ripe target. Did she bring some of this criticism on herself? Sure. But were there people hoping she would lose against Nunes so they could tear her down even more? Absolutely.
Her contributions to the fight game should always be recognized, but the narrative of Rousey as an unbeatable fighter have been destroyed, and for good reason. Still, the retroactive analysis has strayed too far from what the evidence shows us. Rousey was great for a short burst of time, and then everything caught up to her, and she mostly fell apart.
Megan Huston is the sports editor at The Meteor. She can be reached at 936-348-3505 or firstname.lastname@example.org