MISSING IN ACTION
WHERE DID RONDA GO?
A women’s fight is headlining the Ultimate Fighting Championship’s summer showcase this week and Ronda Rousey has no part in it.
That in itself is no surprise, given that the last time Rousey stepped into the octagon here she made it just 48 seconds.
Her conqueror on that late December night, Amanda Nunes, will top the bill at UFC 213 on Saturday, defending her bantamweight title against Valentina Shevchenko in the main event.
However, in one of the most empowering weeks for female fighting that the UFC has ever had, Rousey isn’t just absent from the cage, but seems to be completely out of the sight and minds of the mixed martial arts community.
On Wednesday, the organization hosted a “Women of UFC” discussion panel as part of a weeklong series of events designed to bring fans into Las Vegas for several days, rather than just fight night.
Over the course of an hour and in front of several hundred fans, four prominent women’s UFC fighters and moderator Megan Olivi spoke about how far the sport has evolved, where it might be headed next and its position in providing role models to young girls and women. And not once was Rousey’s name mentioned.
Strawweight champion Joanna Jedrzejczyk remembered a time when a UFC career was not even a dream for female athletes, because the organization was steadfast in its refusal to add a women’s division.
That was before UFC president Dana White changed his mind, which is to say that Rousey changed it for him. Virtually single-handedly, she convinced White to implement a women’s division, and he built it around her. With six crushing victories in 2½ years, she put the women’s division on the map, gave female fighting both credibility and a superstar face and gained an army of worldwide fans.
Mixed martial arts is arguably the toughest sport in the world, and it moves with remarkable haste. Champions become chumps at warp speed, former superstars become quickly forgotten once their skills wane and their ranking dips.
Yet you never thought it would go like that for Rousey, at least not this quickly. As recently as November 2015 she was still seen as unbeatable, an all-conquering superwoman that the public couldn’t get enough of. A stunning defeat to Holly Holm followed and Rousey became a virtual recluse, before reappearing in December to be demolished by Nunes.
And just like that, the juggernaut is over. Rousey is now something else. No longer a fighter even perhaps, at least according to White, who thinks she will retire.
For now she is a coach on ABC’s “Battle of the Network Stars” athletics competition, which is why she was on the “Live with Kelly and Ryan” couch on Wednesday.
Ronda Rousey stands in the cage after Amanda Nunes forced a stoppage in the first round last December.