November 24, 2016

UFC 207: Title Bout Marks Either Second Wind Or Beginning Of the End For Ronda Rousey's Career

By Raphael Garcia

UFC 205 was a monumental moment for the both UFC and mixed martial arts as a whole. Fans and fighters alike finally had their opportunity to take center stage in the “Mecca” of the sports world, Madison Square Garden. This event and the weeks leading up to it were a win for everyone involved, from Conor McGregor on down. That is, except one person: the former women’s bantamweight champion, Ronda Rousey.

This event was originally expected to be built around the former Olympic judoka. She was penciled in to face Holly Holm in a rematch of their 2015 fight where Holm shocked the world. That didn’t happen. Then there was the idea of Miesha Tate welcoming Rousey back to competition. That didn’t happen either. Now, the stage is set for UFC 207, where she will face Amanda Nunes for the belt. More than just her title is on the line; many believe her career will be up for grabs when the Octagon door shuts.

Can you imagine Rousey fighting in a three-round bout? Can you imagine her being in the co-main event of a card not featuring Conor McGregor? Neither can many of the other people who consume mixed martial arts as either hardcore or mainstream fans. At UFC 207, she’ll be walking into the Octagon to face one of the hardest hitters in the women’s bantamweight division. Taking another loss pushes her out of the title picture, and potentially the UFC at the same time.

Rousey has already opened up about the idea of retirement. She mentioned this when she appeared on The Ellen Show, the same show where she revealed the suicidal thoughts that plagued her after losing the title. Divulging thoughts such as those creates uncertainty as to whether she’s going to remain in love with competition. In some ways, it seems as if she’s already tired of the pageantry that goes along with her fame. She’s called for a media blackout for all but the biggest outlets as she preps for the December fight. She was already considered less than pleasant, and this doesn’t help that situation.

Rousey’s career parallels that of Gina Carano very closely. After reaching a level of fame few reached in the sport, a defeat pushed her out of the limelight and the sport entirely. Like Carano, Rousey has struggled to become a star in Hollywood, as her recent projects have stalled. That makes losing at UFC 207 that much more dangerous for Rousey. A loss to Nunes puts her in a position where it’s difficult to demand quite as much from the UFC, as she will have lost the cachet that made her acting career start.

Ronda Rousey was once the biggest star the UFC had. That spot now belongs to Conor McGregor. That doesn’t mean, however, that her name doesn’t bring value to the promotion. That value is at risk at UFC 207. Rousey’s fall from her position of dominance has been a sight to see, and the outcome of her matchup with Amanda Nunes will decide what comes next for her, both inside and outside of the Octagon.

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