On Sunday, history was made as Ronda Rousey, former UFC Women’s Bantamweight Champion, was defeated for the first time in her three-year-long Ultimate Fighting Championship career.
The UFC 193 bantamweight title fight was held in Melbourne, Australia as favorite Rousey faced professional boxer Holly Holm. Holm found a way to knock Rousey out after around six minutes. This event was laced with such anticipation that it was broadcasted live by Fox Sports. News outlets all around are calling this single fight the greatest upset in the sport’s history.
It’s hard to believe how much can change in a mere eight months. Back in March, I discovered the phenomenon that is Ronda Rousey. I have previously praised her for her record-breaking athleticism and was fascinated with the idea that a strong woman was making unheard of strides in the world of sports. Since March, she’s written a book, has been on every American evening talk show and has stirred many pots After the world made a parallel discovery to my own, Rousey’s story shifted from being about a woman defying all odds to being TMZ’s latest celebrity bait.
Once the news broke that Holm upset her competitor, the social media world ruptured. Rousey received support from the likes of “Orange is the New Black” star Ruby Rose and musician Demi Lovato. Rose reminded all of her followers how much she respects Rousey not only as an athlete, but as a person, while Lovato tweeted, “Whatevs.. I’m still #TeamRousey.”
But not all were on board with #TeamRousey, as Donald Trump and Lady Gaga shared their two cents on Twitter and Instagram. Trump tweeted that he was pleased Rousey lost her fight, concluding his tweet by saying “she’s not a nice person.” Gaga shared a photo of Rousey getting clobbered with the caption “That’s what you get for not touching gloves.” (That is a fighting reference. It is a sign of respect when fighters touch gloves before a fight, which Rousey chose not to do.)
Now, there is an obvious divide between the ones inspired by all Rousey has done for women in sports and the others who cannot see past her arrogance and unacceptable public scandals. It’s hard to believe that eight months ago, half of the celebrities who responded to the shocking upset probably had no idea who Rousey was.
Rousey’s insensible character was put on full display during the ESPY awards in July when she took a jab at undefeated but equally controversial Floyd Mayweather, who claimed to not even know who the former UFC champion. “I wonder how Floyd feels being beat by a woman for once. I’d like to see him pretend to not know who I am now,” said Rousey. Many months later, Mayweather, surprisingly, had relatively kind words for Rousey. In response to her loss, he said, “I think that everything is just a learning experience. In due time, she’ll be able to bounce back and make some noise again in mixed martial arts.”
Besides him being known for making statements without a trace of humility, like, “I can beat everyone in my division with one arm tied behind my back,” Mayweather had been condemned by Rousey for his history with domestic abuse. But, these recent comments seem incredibly contradictory for Rousey. She is currently seeing fellow MMA fighter Travis Browne, who has been accused of abusing his estranged wife.
Now it seems fair to be conflicted on the issue of whether or not to support the former Women’s Bantamweight Champion. Once again, we are met with this issue of athletes being fully aware of their responsibility to the world around them. It’s been commonplace to speak about how many NFL players don’t realize how their actions affect the the young people who desire to be the next great running back, for example. In Rousey’s case, however, her comments will not be forgotten, as she must remember how what she says does and will affect the young girls and boys wanting to continue to break the barriers she has ruptured in her historic career.
As we wait for Ronda Rousey to serve her 60-day leave of absence because of her severe injuries from Melbourne, there are two positive takeaways from all of this. Maybe we will see a rebirth of a more humble phoenix in a few months. Let’s acknowledge that the world was watching on Sunday. It has been said that no one watches women’s sports, but, according to ESPN’s Hannah Storm, this weekend proved otherwise: “And on an NFL Sunday with the Giants and Patriots playing…our top story is about two women fighting around the world, and that’s a victory in of itself.”