Ronda Rousey can assure her status as the best ever at UFC 207

By Owen Phillips     30/12/16     Views

Ronda Rousey Amanda Nunes UFC 207 womens bantamweight

Ronda Rousey (right) at the ceremonial weigh-ins opposite champion Amanda Nunes (left). Photo: Dave Mandel/Sherdog.com

When Ronda Rousey goes into the UFC’s octagon to challenge current women’s bantamweight champion Amanda Nunes at UFC 207, she is fighting for more than the championship belt; she is aiming to solidify her status as the greatest ever.

She hadn’t been beaten and had thoroughly dismantled her opposition in the bantamweight division. The great warrior Miesha Tate had been the only one to get Rousey out of the first round. Rousey had nine wins in under a minute. Her armbar submissions were so effective she rarely had to strike with the other women.

Her striking was coming along under the tutelage of Edmond Tarverdyan from the time she stepped into Glendale Fighting Club in 2010. She had knocked out Bethe Correia in Brazil with a powerful right hand. It appeared now her hands had caught up to her grappling.

Enter former world boxing champion Holly Holm. She had been signed to the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) as the fighter with the best striking pedigree in women’s MMA. Her first few bouts were unremarkable, preferring to counter-strike and securing decision victories. She was now scheduled to fight for the title against Rousey.

For Rousey, this trip to Melbourne, Australia in November 2015 was not initially planned. The scheduled main-event fight between Robbie Lawler and Carlos Condit had fallen through and UFC president Dana White had called upon his most loyal employee to save the first stadium show the UFC had ever promoted.

 

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“Dana didn’t even finish asking me the question before I said yes,” Rousey said. This was her third fight of 2016 and the most in a year since she turned professional in 2011. Include her bourgeoning life outside of cage with movies and other engagements, UFC 193 was one mountain too difficult to climb.

Holly Holm fought the perfect fight.

She managed to defend Rousey’s judo and when the fight went to ground Holm survived the inevitable submission attempts. The counter-striking style of Holm was greeted by a raging bull in Rousey, who believed in her striking after having confirmation of its prowess against Correia. Holly Holm was on another level and dismantled Rousey as the fight played out on the feet.

For Rousey, this was an unfamiliar situation in MMA. Her first loss and it ruined her dream of retiring undefeated. She had suffered losses before during Olympic competition for judo but being ousted from her position at the top of the tree in the woman’s bantamweight division was arguably more devastating. She suffered the after-effects of being knocked out on fight night, emotional and psychological pain in the months following.

She was left with loose teeth and had a cut on her lip that required cosmetic surgery. The reaction to her loss on social media was particularly passionate. “I don’t want to allow them that access to me anymore because they really take it for granted, and they don’t look at you like a person. You’re an event to them. I don’t want to read people saying all the worst things you can imagine about me every single day,” Rousey explained.

Her family and coaches were there to pick her back up. Her mum AnnMaria De Mars would tell her to ‘Woman Up!, and encourage her to move forward with her life. This tough love is what has made Rousey strong whenever she needed guidance.

 

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Ever since Ronda Rousey lost her bantamweight title, nobody has managed to defend the belt. Holly Holm was submitted by Miesha Tate and then Tate was submitted by Amanda Nunes. Nunes set up her win with some damaging striking and then finished the victory with a rear naked choke.

Once Nunes won the belt she had her heart set on waiting until Rousey was ready to fight. Nunes got her wish and they will battle it out at UFC 207. In 2011 after her first professional fight, Rousey said she was keen to fight her when Nunes was 6-1 and now it comes to fruition in 2016.

It will be just over 13 months since Rousey set foot in the octagon and is the longest break she has had in her MMA career.

This is the first major hurdle Ronda Rousey has faced in her career and now she has the opportunity to prove it was a once off, a bad day at the office, something that shouldn’t be regarded as the beginning of the end.

On the Ellen show, Rousey said she will not be fighting much longer. It really is the beginning of the end; the beginning of the end of an amazing career, but not necessarily Rousey’s dominance.

If she were able to reclaim the bantamweight title, then this would be confirmation that she is greatest female MMA fighter that we have had the pleasure of watching. Not many fighters have lost their belt and reclaimed it back. Normally that is the end of the reign when that belt is grasped away.

Georges St. Pierre managed to reclaim the welterweight belt in a rematch at UFC 83, after being finished in a shocking upset against Matt Serra at UFC 69.

Cain Velasquez put on a dominant performance in a title rematch at UFC 155, after he had the heavyweight strap taken from him by Junior Dos Santos in a quick knockout at UFC on FOX 1.

These uncommon examples show how difficult it is to get the championship belt back.

For Ronda Rousey to achieve a level of greatness not seen in woman’s MMA and solidify her position as the best ever, she will face off with Amanda Nunes on December 31st (Australian time) at UFC 207, which takes place at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas.

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