Former Women’s Bantamweight champion Ronda Rousey, will enter the octagon this month, in what is one of the most highly anticipated bouts of the year.
It’s been almost fourteen months coming, but finally she’s back. After a shocking upset to Holly Holm at UFC 193, the 29 year old Rousey, will return to the octagon on Dec. 30th at the T-mobile arena in Las Vegas, facing off against current Bantamweight champion Amanda Nunes. So what does her return mean to the UFC?
The former Olympic medalist shot to fame after winning her first twelve professional fights in a row. She was a star that transcended the sport, single handedly putting women’s MMA on the map, with her exceptional athleticism and arm bar finishes. She carried herself with a brash confidence and impenetrable mindset, that at times made her seem unbeatable. But as we’re reminded all too often in MMA, no-one is infallible.
Rousey’s loss to Holly Holm – on a night where she was completely outclassed by a kickboxing expert – remains one of the most shocking and entertaining events in the UFC’s history. What’s happened since though has been very underwhelming. With the likes of Holm and Miesha Tate both unable to keep hold of the belt for more than one fight, no-one has been able to put a stamp on the division the way that Rousey did. No-one has the same charisma or ability to promote fights, and love her or hate her, there is no-one who speaks to fans in the way she did.
So what are her reasons for coming back? She could easily make a living in Hollywood, where she has starred in several box office hits including The Expendables, and The Fast and the Furious 7. She even had success in modelling, and writing a best selling auto-biography. The safest answer is that she is a competitor of the highest calibre, and what’s more, after the public humiliation she suffered following UFC 193, she has a point to prove.
While many will point out the obvious mental effects such a devastating KO could have to her confidence, it would seem Ronda Rousey has done the smart thing in taking the time to recover from her injuries. If she can come back with the same gusto and hunger she had before, having adjusted some of the flaws in her striking game, it is likely we could see a Rousey 2.0.
Her opponent Amanda Nunes (13-4) will have other ideas however. The feisty Brazilian who achieved the pinnacle of the sport earlier this year, will undoubtedly want to steal some of Rousey’s momentum for herself, putting an end to any possible comebacks, and propelling her own career forward.
There’s a lot on the line here for both women, and after the dizzying heights of UFC 205, it seems the most fitting way to end the year. Ronda Rousey is beatable, we know that now, but she knows it too. That only makes a comeback fight with such a game opponent all the more exciting.
By Lewis Smith.