Is former champ Ronda Rousey set to return to UFC?

Mixed martial arts phenomenon Ronda Rousey hasn’t been inside the UFC octagon since December 2016, but is Rousey about to return to the UFC? She lost her bid to regain the women’s featherweight (135 pounds) title from current title holder Amanda Nunes in 48 short, agonizing seconds. A year prior to that, Rousey suffered her first loss in mixed martial arts in Sydney, Australia. Former 16-time boxing champion Holly Holm bested the then-unbeaten champion via a brutal second-round head-kick knockout.

Ever since the Nunes loss, Rousey has kept a low profile, only recently resurfacing to serve as a head coach/trainer in the reboot of ABC’s Battle of the Network Stars along with various other random television cameos. Much happier these days, Rousey recently wed longtime beau, and current UFC fighter, Travis Browne in Hawaii.

Prior to her loss to Holm, Ronda Rousey had become a household name on the strength of her first 12 fights. Her first eight fights all ended the same way: submission via armbar. All but one of those fights ended in the first round. Of those first twelve wins, only two lasted longer than one minute and six seconds. Only one fight made it out of the first round. Rousey was a juggernaut and her savagery in the octagon was unrivaled among the men or women of the UFC. Her popularity exploded and she quickly became an overnight sensation.

Fast forward to present day. Her reign of dominance has ended. No one truly thinks she will return to the octagon including UFC President Dana White. However, in a recent interview on The MMA Hour, Rousey’s head coach Edmond Tarverdyan thinks otherwise. He stated, “It’s going to be her decision, if she fights. One more, I don’t know. I’ve spoken to her. I don’t know if she’ll do it. One more fight, maybe. If she really can. If her body does give her one more fight and she really wants to mentally, she might. It’s 50-50 right now,” Tarverdyan said.

Tarverdyan is angling for Rousey’s last fight to be a superfight with nemesis Cris “Cyborg” Justino. Anyone who has seen Rousey’s last two fights has seen the major chink in her armor. She does not take a punch very well. The first jab from Holm broke Rousey’s jaw, en route to her first loss. Nunes’ superior hand speed had Ronda out on her feet not even a minute into the fight, as the referee ended it after a number of unanswered strikes.

Like Holm, Cyborg’s specialty is striking. She is the most feared woman in mixed martial arts because of the damage she has inflicted on her opponents due to her power. During Rousey’s meteoric rise to the top, her strategy was to charge her opponent and get close enough to grab a hold of them. She would then utilize her superior skills as a Judo black belt to get her opponent to the ground and secure the submission victory.

Unless Rousey somehow learned striking (offense and especially striking defense), this would be a terrible matchup. One would figure the time she should’ve learned those skills would have been during the year off she had to prepare between losses. Against Nunes, Rousey winged her punches recklessly and did not show the ability to defend them. With her same camp and coaches in her corner, it’s doubtful she’s become a capable striker.

If you’re looking to see Ronda Rousey in a ring, the WWE is the much safer bet. She has been shown on-camera during WWE tapings and figures to be a vital part of an upcoming storyline, as one of her training partners Shayna Baszler participated in WWE’s 32-woman single-elimination tournament entitled the Mae Young Classic. Another of Rousey’s teammates, Marina Shafir, is also involved in a WWE storyline on their NXT brand with real-life husband Christopher Lindsey (stage name Roderick Strong).

Of the four women that comprise Rousey’s training circle, only Jessamyn Duke is not an active part of the WWE. That, too, could change before the end of the year.

In short, the book is written in MMA on how to beat Rousey. Keep the fight on the feet and outbox her. Coach Tarverdyan is applying wishful thinking as he looks for a fight with Cyborg. He’s not eating off the Rousey gravy train anymore now that she’s not fighting. A fight with Cyborg would undoubtedly headline a major card and would easily be a payday worth a few million for the Rousey camp. In WWE, he wouldn’t be needed.

Nice try, coach, but that ship has sailed. Ronda Rousey blazed a trail for women’s martial arts right into the mainstream and into the biggest organization in the world, the UFC. Before Rousey, White had said women will never fight in the UFC. Now the world knows women can go as hard (or harder) in the most male-dominated, masculine sport that doesn’t require a helmet. Her legacy will surpass her lifetime and many thereafter.

Ronda will return to the badass form she held for a long time, this time in WWE; where she will have a lot more say in the outcome of her fights.






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