The American fighter was once the queen of MMA but after two successive losses she has demonstrated that fame is of little help in the Octagon
Ronda Rouseys head was snapped back enough times in the opening moments of her return to the UFC for the crowd to see what was coming. Defeat and despair, yes. Victory and redemption, no.
I knew if I had a chance in the beginning of the fight, if she gives me the opportunity, that I would finish her there, said Amanda Nunes, who battered Rousey on Friday at the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas to retain the UFC bantamweight title for the first time.
Forty-eight seconds after the opening bell, Rouseys night and perhaps her career had been ended by 27 strikes that contorted the former champions face in awful ways. This was the worst case scenario for Rousey, whose record now stands at 12-2. An all-hands-on-deck moment met with a meek response, the kind of performance that we dont see from great competitors.
Many of the 18,533 spectators at the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas, a record attendance for an MMA event in Nevada, went wild when Rousey stepped on to the floor wearing her familiar glare. Fighting is a gritty, emotional exercise in which statistics often mean nothing. But prior to Fridays bout, one foreboding figure loomed for the challenger.
Nunes, a boxer/puncher with a black belt in Brazilian jiu-jitsu, had averaged as many strikes per round as any fighter scheduled to compete at UFC 207, while Rousey, the deposed queen of MMA, had been hit the most. Bad numbers for anyone, let alone a fighter making her first appearance in the Octagon since Holly Holm crushed her with strikes 13 months ago. The disparity couldnt be ignored, and one of the major questions surrounding Rousey in the lead-up to her return centered on whether or not she could handle being punched again.
She could not.
For months there was speculation that she had been significantly altered by the loss to Holm. The joy of producing dominant fast victories was gone, replaced by the harsh reality that comes with experiencing what its like to lose by having a shin slammed into your neck. So Rousey did the only thing she could to deal with what happened. She tried to disappear, a tactic that included sequestering herself from fans and media during fight week.
Rouseys bubble did not serve her well in the end, Nunes said. By skipping the normal traditions of fight week, Rousey created tension and sparked questions where there werent any. She may have sought to alleviate stress by avoiding it, but that rarely works, particularly when the pressure is about to beturned up. And that was exactly what Nunes had in mind as she unloaded heavy punches in Rouseys direction from the start of the fight.
To read more copy this link into a new tab:http://www.theguardian.com/us