It has been about two weeks since Ronda Rousey’s devastating loss to Amanda Nunes in the UFC 207 Main Event and the only things we have heard about the MMA Superstar is a statement following the fight and how her Venice, CA home was recently vandalized.
Rousey was at one point the most popular woman in the sports world, featured not only on sports publications, but in national media and Hollywood as well. She was setting a new path to success, unseen by anyone in sports before her! However, the loss to Nunes plus her previous 2015 loss to Holly Holm has placed Rousey in a very awkward position at this point of her career.
So, the question is, where does Rousey go from here?
Return to MMA
The popular phrase is “everyone loves a comeback”, right? Especially in sports! Tiger Woods, Muhammad Ali and Michael Vick are just a couple examples. The question in this case for Rousey is whether this fight versus Nunes was her “comeback”?
However, it is not completely unheard of for someone to make their way back to the top of a sport after rough seasons/fights. Quarterbacks in the NFL have rough years before coming back to have an MVP year soon after, i.e. Matt Ryan this season. PGA Tour golfers come back from injuries or long winless streaks every year, i.e. Vaughn Taylor or John Daly. Even UFC fighters have been able to come back from horrible injuries or terrible losses, like Dominick Cruz.
Rousey needs to decide whether she wants to pursue another fight. The UFC will still definitely use her as a top promotional figure within the company given her history, probably headlining another pay-per-view event. Rousey was the primary reason that UFC 207 drew over one million buys and I believe she still would be a popular draw for the UFC, at least for one more fight.
UFC 207 was basically her obligated title fight rematch, but what if she was able to work her way back towards another title shot against Nunes? Just like what TJ Dillashaw has done in the Men’s Bantamweight Division! Rousey could very well build her reputation as a feared fighter, but she NEEDS to win her next fight in order for it to even have a chance.
Move to Hollywood
Before her UFC 193 loss to Holly Holm, Rousey was making her transition to Hollywood as one of the few “bad-ass” women in the industry. She starred in The Expendables 3, Fast & Furious 7 and Entourage, along with setting up lead roles in multiple movies. Rousey even had her own autobiography published, My Fight, Your Fight. She was the “it” girl!
Then Holm’s kick to the face took her down in the eyes of the average consumer.
Two movies she was set to star in, Mile 22 and Road House, all of a sudden went on hold with no update as of this moment. She went into “hiding” after her first loss, admitting that she contemplated suicidal thoughts at the time. Everyone didn’t know what she wanted to do next, not her Hollywood agent, Dana White or seemingly even herself.
This fight versus UFC 207 was not only supposed to save her reputation as an MMA Fighter, but for her Hollywood potential as well. After two fights where whether was beaten pretty badly by her opponents, are moviegoers going to view her as a legitimate threat to Michelle Rodriquez or as a member of Sylvester Stallone’s mercenary group?
Could this perception be built back up through Hollywood avenues? Maybe! But it remains to be seen whether Film Studios and Directors want to take that chance. Gina Carino has maintained a nice niche for herself in Fast & Furious 6 and Deadpool, but she never became the “female Steven Seagal” that many thought she could be.
Has/Will the same thing happen to Rousey?
The other possibility for Rousey after this loss would be to make a move to World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE). Now, I know what you are thinking, the “fake” sport that is basically a soap opera with more action? However, WWE has proven that they can take a former UFC top draw and return them being perceived as a “beast” in the public eye, with Brock Lesnar.
In addition, Rousey is a known WWE fan! Her nickname “Rowdy” came directly from former wrestler, the late “Rowdy” Roddy Piper. When she was at the top of her game, her group of friends were know as the “Four Horsemen” of MMA, a name of a former top wrestling stable that include Ric Flair. She also used to post reaction videos of herself watching big WWE moments.
Then, there is the fact that she participated in a segment at Wrestlemania 31, with her Fast & Furious 6 co-star The Rock, Triple H and Stephanie McMahon. WWE officials, including McMahon have said nothing but positive things about Rousey and seem interested in the possibility of working with her in the future, even before UFC 207.
If Hollywood is unable or unwilling to restore Rousey’s reputation as a feared badass, the WWE might be another route for her to go.
It seems that Rousey’s fellow fighters believe that her best move would be to retire from MMA. Middleweight Champion Michael Bisping, who himself is starting to enter Hollywood, believes that she has “done it all. She took over the sport. She was the face of the sport. She’s a massive celebrity now…. Walk away.” But will the UFC let her?
The sport is in a weird spot, as many of their top draws have either had major problems or in an unknown position. Conor McGregor seems to be pursuing a fight with Floyd Mayweather, Jon Jones and Brock Lesnar were both suspended due to PED use and CM Punk was overwhelmed in less than a round. They need a fighter who can draw PPV buys and market their sport around!
I believe that Rousey would still have drawing power for at least one more fight, but she would need to win!
While WWE would be a good alternative for her and as a fan, I would love to see her work with some of the top women (and men) in the company, I don’t think that would be enough for her. She has experienced being on “top of the world” and given what she has done, she deserves a chance to get some of that reputation back.
So what would I do?
The UFC should give Rousey an opportunity at one more fight in the late spring or early summer. Ronda can take it and call it her “retirement” fight. The UFC can then bill this PPV as a “Thank You” to Rousey for all she has done for the sport, which should definitely draw enough buys to be a success for the company.
Rousey would hopefully win in her final fight, proving that she still has the “badass” still in her, which she could then use to get her Hollywood career going again. The Roadhouse remake that she is set to start in reportedly will film in the Summer, so what better way to begin the movie’s hype machine than with a final victory in the Octagon.
But it all comes down to Rousey and if she can mentally overcome these two losses. Time will tell whether she can.