ESPN is pushing their piece on Ronda Rousey in the December issue of ESPN The Magazine. Big time. Ramona Shelburne got the first interview with the former UFC Bantamweight Champion after the devastating knockout at the hands of Holly Holm in November.
The piece is featured on the front page of ESPN even as the NFL playoffs are just weeks away. Rousey, even in defeat, is an enormous draw to even the casual sports fan.
The interview gives us some insight on how Rousey is dealing with the fact that she will not retire from the UFC undefeated. Holm made sure of that with a nasty head kick that rendered the “Most Dangerous Unarmed Woman in the World” defenseless and unconscious.
The fighter knows all too well just how happy her loss made many people. Rousey made a ton of enemies as she became more and more outspoken leading up to her battle against Holm. Not touching gloves with her opponent at UFC 193 enraged even the likes of Donald Trump and Lady Gaga, not exactly fight fanatics. Rousey was regularly disrespectful of Holm who conducted herself like a true sportsman.
It’s one thing to come out verbally swinging against trash like Kim Kardashian and Floyd Mayweather. Any normal person can get behind that. I loved her for it! Yet when Rousey took her trash talking next level against a decent person like Holly Holm, she actually lost some fans and gave her haters even more ammo.
Rousey knows exactly what her haters are saying about her…..”That I’m a fucking failure and I deserve everything that I got,” she says sharply.
It’s good that she recognizes that. No need to hide from the hate. It’s true and largely constructed by her, much of it purposely to grow her brand. Hard to get attention in a male dominated sports world by being goody goody all the time.
Gotta stand out if you want to be the centerpiece on ESPN’s front page.
What has Rousey done since the loss? According to the ESPN article, she has isolated herself for the most part. Feeling embarrassed, physically hurt of course, and apologizing to anyone she feels she has let down by losing.
Rousey talks briefly about her relationship with fellow UFCer Travis Browne, something she refused to do as she promoted the Holm fight. Browne was of course accused of domestic violence earlier this year, but cleared by the UFC after their independent investigation.
She knew how it looked to date a man linked to domestic violence. Hard to empower young female fans with that stigma in your inner circle. Rousey does make a valid point about refusing to talk about Browne, saying her words would be chopped up, dissected, and tweeted in a variety of ways in which she couldn’t control. I agree with her on that. One thing to sit down for an hour long interview solely about that situation. Quite another to give two sound bytes in the midst of discussing an upcoming fight.
From what we know about Rousey, I have to believe she trusts that Browne was truly innocent.
That said, I have to remember my own sports motto. “We don’t know these people!” I don’t know Ronda Rousey at all.
The most intriguing part of the ESPN piece to me touched on Rousey’s trainer Edmond Tarverdyan, whom I felt let her down leading up to the Holm fight. Rousey tries to paint a picture of her “being off” even as she entered the Octagon to fight Holm. I totally believe her when she says her judgement was jacked up after getting rocked early in the fight.
That still doesn’t explain her egregious error of chasing a dangerous boxer like Holm from the start of the fight. It also does not explain her trainer Edmond Tarverdyan telling her she was doing “beautiful work,” in between rounds when it was clear she was getting her ass handed to her by Holm.
Was he “just off” like Rousey. No one hit him in the face in round one. Someone should have after the round two knockout though.
Tarverdyan was of no help to Ronda Rousey during the fight and from what I can tell, during the entire training camp. Yet Rousey is sticking with the guy despite her mother’s apparent hatred of the man.
“Of course I’m staying [with Tarverdyan],” Rousey says. “That’s my mom’s opinion, not mine.”
This ESPN cover story is just the first step toward the UFC building up the rematch between the new champ Holly Holm and the former champion Ronda Rousey. It’ll be a few months before we get to see these two warriors get back after it.
In the meantime Rousey is going to be painted as a fighter trying to redeem herself.
Her story was great before. Going from temporarily homeless to the greatest, not to mention richest female fighter on the planet. Once she was on the mountaintop the story could have gotten stale after a while. Hence all the extra trash talk by Rousey to keep fans interested.
Now that she has fallen off the mountaintop the UFC has an even better story. One of a vanquished champion on the journey back to reclaim what was taken from her. Rousey overcame enormous challenges to get to where she was. It remains to be seen if she can ever get back to that pinnacle of success.
Overcoming the outside noise of the media and hater fans is the easy part. Winning a rematch against a woman who already dominated Rousey before eventually turning her lights out is going to be the hard part. Especially with a trainer that fed her to another skilled lioness in the first fight.