Enter ‘The Lioness’. Wow, is the only word to describe what we witnessed over this past weekend’s action at UFC 207 namely; Ronda Rousey v Amanda Nunes. Nunes has introduced herself in spectacular fashion on the world stage. Let’s be fair, no one really knew who she was till she pummelled Meisha Tate at UFC 200 for the women’s bantamweight championship and even then there were doubts about her ability and longevity in the division. Many put her win down to Tate’s decline rather than Nunes’ guile or power. At UFC 207, the Brazilian swept the former bantamweight champion to retain her belt in a stunning 48 second victory.
The Ronda Show
The build-up to the fight was dominated by the return of Ronda Rousey and her journey towards retaining her title but very little marketing was done on the current champion, Brazilian Amanda Nunes. All of the hype was surrounded by Ronda’s return to the octagon but Dana White must have had hands in face by the first punch. The UFC will rue leaving out Nunes in the marketing for the lead up to this event especially because in the manner she beat Ronda Rousey. Every main event has two sides – the champion and challenger but here it was all about Ronda. You’d be forgiven to think that Ronda Rousey was the defending champion fighting to retain her belt.
Most observers pinned this as Ronda’s fight to lose but no one anticipated a beat down. A 48 second loss will ruin anyone’s career let alone the UFC’s most prized possession. This becomes even more significant due to the fact that she was beaten by a relative unknown. Although, I do think that Amanda preferred being under the radar, being able to keep her focus, train hard every day and with her media obligations limited to a few press conferences, interviews and the filming of UFC embedded. No pressure on her to perform or win, while the UFC was angling a Rousey victory from the outset. Ronda wasn’t just beaten, she was erased. The octagon no longer looked like her safe haven but the wilderness with no signs of finding her way back.
Time For Something New
Although, I don’t think we can lay 100% of the blame on Ronda Rousey alone. Yes, she is the one in the octagon and has to win the fight, much of the blame can be shifted to head coach Edmond Tarverdyan who has often been criticized by many MMA observers and fans alike for good reason. Ronda’s strength lies in her Judo and grappling rather than boxing. Edmond convinced her and everyone else that Ronda had become an adept boxer and would be able to stand up against Amanda Nunes and play her at Nunes’ game which backfired horrendously. In no universe has Ronda Rousey ever had a good stand up game. Most of her victories have come via submission with the exception of Beth Correia who had terrible movement making Ronda look better than she was. Despite knowing Amanda’s strengths, Rousey still went toe-to-toe with one of the toughest girl’s in the division. It goes without saying that Ronda would have planned for that exact situation but it just seemed so disjointed. Ronda’s Pantene commercial or increased promotional work could have compounded to her loss as another source of distraction.
The Future Look’s Bright
In addition, the women’s bantamweight division has peaked at the right time. Girls like Amanda Nunes and Holly Holm represent the need to master specific principles. Female fighters like Amanda trained every day, day in and day out and that is what the new generation of fighters need to do just because the level of mixed martial arts has risen dramatically over the past 18 months or so. The winner of Juliana Pena vs Valentina Shevchenko should face Amanda Nunes for the 135 pound title. What’s next for Ronda Rousey? Your guess is as good as mine. She’s already announced that she will take some time out to think about her future. After such a devastating loss, I do not think she will retire just yet if she still has the mental strength and tenacity shown throughout her career. Ronda is too talented of a fighter to go out like this and unless she repeats tonights performance in her next bout she should continue to fight till she retains the belt.