I know it’s been a number of days, but it’s a big enough story that I want to go back to that beatdown Amanda Nunes laid on Ronda Rousey at UFC 207. As brutal as it was when Holly Holm broke Ronda’s face more than a year ago, this was even worse because she really didn’t learn anything from the fight she had against Holm.
Her coach telling her she could strike with Holm and to stand right in front of her and to beat her at her own game, was one of the worst strategic decisions in MMA history. So what does she do exactly one year later against the champion, Nunes? The exact same thing! And the result was exactly the same; and she left the ring the same way, with a broken face.
No change in strategy. And no improvement. She was exactly the same. A human heavy bag that Nunes could wail on. A head that Nunes used as a speed bag.
And no sooner than it happened, twitter warriors everywhere rushed in to call Rousey out for being a fraud. A bum. Overhyped. Overrated. When in fact, none of it is true.
Granted, her level of competition was not nearly what it is now. And she and her team made a catastrophic mistake in not seeing the sport’s changing landscape. For not understanding that all the money and fame Ronda got from the sport, was only going to attract much better athletes and fighters who wanted what Ronda had. That the women’s game was evolving quickly and when she didn’t change with it, the game swallowed her up. And broke her face. Twice.
But it doesn’t change her bottom line or how she should be seen. She should have handled this beating better. She should have gotten right up in front of the cameras, and the media, acknowledged her opponent and answered the tough questions. She should have owned it. But her legacy is a positive one. She personally talked Dana White into letting women fight after he said he would never allow it. Only to now say it was the best decision he’s ever made. And while she was exposed in her last two fights, she was the sport’s biggest star prior to it. Both in and out of the octagon. She brought countless new eyeballs to the sport. So there was nothing fraudulent about her or her belt: or her jack. Or her fame. She earned all that.
But athletes almost never, ever get to go out on their own terms. And she’s no different in that regard. And one of the things that makes this sport is so great, is that everyone gets beat. Everyone. Even the most dominant fighters. And she’s no different in that either… Especially if your game doesn’t evolve. And hers didn’t.