Ronda Rousey’s media interviews are typically a mix of flirty and feisty and any topic can come up, from comic books to politics to the legalization of marijuana.
Listening to Rousey speak in the build-up to fights can be an unpredictably entertaining journey, yet there is always a common thread, namely an unwavering certainty that she will emerge victorious.
Such predictions from a champion will typically be believed for as long as they come true, but Rousey’s streak of demolition through the UFC ranks was brought to a devastating end by Holly Holm over the weekend and left the women’s bantamweight division in a fascinating limbo.
Previously, the organization’s involvement with women’s fighting was built squarely around Rousey, her undefeated record, her cloak of invincibility and her bristling attitude.
Just two years after becoming one of the sport’s figureheads following UFC president Dana White’s decision to allow females to fight under his organization’s banner, she had morphed into a genuine crossover superstar, complete with movie appearances and magazine covers.
Defeat, as White said at Etihad Stadium, changes a lot of things. Yet while the Rousey victory juggernaut was a fiscal stream the UFC would have been happy to see flow long and unimpeded, Holm’s upset win may not constitute a disaster, or anything like it, for the sport.
The brevity of Rousey’s victories, had they continued to be accumulated with such simplicity and ruthlessness, could have caused White some headaches. It is not so easy to persuade viewers to cough up $60 a pop when the main event clocks out after mere seconds. Rousey’s three previous contests had lasted just 64 seconds combined.
White might not admit it but he surely believed that the UFC was about to witness a one-woman dynasty. Instead, they may have something even better — a rivalry.
When quizzed post-fight White stated that a rematch “makes sense” and admitted it will be the fight most desired by fans. Holm agreed to grant one, and assuming Rousey makes a full recovery after being hospitalized as a precaution overnight, the UFC 200 event on July 9 would be a tantalizing option.
The landmark occasion nature of the event and the fact that it will be held in the new Las Vegas Arena means White is looking to stack the card and there would be no bigger contest than a second meeting between the deposed champ and the new one.
The UFC has prided itself on staging the toughest, most competitive fights. That approach is what has helped MMA gain such a significant and passionate following but, combined with the sudden nature with which victory can be obtained, means that even undefeated champions who dominate repeatedly lose sooner or later.
Next time it would be Rousey with a point to prove and Holm with a perfect record to protect, with the anticipation likely to guarantee the most-watched and lucrative women’s fight in history.
Furthermore, unlike any UFC women’s bantamweight title fight since the division was implemented, it would also be seen as a coin-flip between two even-matched rivals.
For Holm was unfazed by Rousey’s reputation, or her aggressive show of bravado at the weigh-in, or what the oddsmakers had to say. She didn’t mind the bulk of the attention being on her opponent. Or that everyone assumed she would be victim number 13 for Rousey in UFC.
If indeed the rematch happens, it will be fascinating to see how Rousey responds, and whether she has learned from the over-aggressive approach that led her into harm’s way in Melbourne.
The belt has been lost, so too the aura of invincibility and mystical status, but the Rousey story still has some ways to go before it is fully played out. For now she has a co-star to shoulder the burden, one she will surely look to seek revenge upon.