We know what kind of fighter Ronda Rousey was, but the world is about to find out who Ronda Rousey, MMA Fighter, really is.
We're about to find out if her toughness is only skin deep.
Rousey has faced a surprisingly fierce backlash in the media-universe, receiving criticism for her comments and posts in the days leading up to the fight. Glass house owners and pundits everywhere who weigh-in on the fight game (but clearly have only an entertainment-level knowledge of the sport and the athlete) are calling her cocky, brash, arrogant, disrespectful, [insert negative character judgement here]. Many are saying she got what she deserved, while her defenders (many equally as green in the fight game) are taking the "she'll be back, better than ever, you just wait and see", line of defence.
Those who are some how personally offended by her "arrogance" don't understand the psyche of a fighter. Period. If you are a professional fighter, and you don't honestly believe that you can beat anyone, at any time, anywhere; then you've already lost, and quite honestly you shouldn't be in the ring. Some fighters choose to publically convey their air of superiority (I AM THE GREATEST), while some choose silence, but this grandiose vision is universal in all champions.
A champion's psyche is a fragile thing.
This is Rousey's first taste of real adversity in the ring. Her first loss, and a knockout loss, to boot. To those saying, "no big deal, she will be back", I point to fighters like Mike Tyson and Roy Jones Jr. Both of those boxers were absolutely dominant at the start of their professional careers, knocking out opponents at will, and often in the first and second rounds. In fact, they put together winning streaks that make Rousey's undefeated start look paltry in comparison. But for these fighters, their first losses signified the beginning of the end of their careers. The world had seen that they were beatable, but more importantly, they came to realize they were beatable, and they believed it. Neither fighter would return to form.
For those who say that this is the last we will hear from Rousey, I direct your attention to Ken Shamrock, Georges St. Pierre, and Randy Couture. These fighters all lost their titles (some multiple times) and fought back to win them. Their losses were learning opportunities which clearly never altered their self-belief, rather, inspired adaptation and self-improvement. It is interesting to note that these are three very different fighters, and significantly different from Tyson and Jones Jr.in the way they conducted themselves, both in the time leading up to a fight and within the fight itself.
Which kind of fighter is the new Rousey?
The reality is that retiring undefeated is incredibly rare. At least once in their careers, a fighter is going to lose a fight. From our small case study, it would appear that the fighters with less bravado, fighters that encompass that quite-confidence, are the ones who fight back to become champions once again. These are the fighters that use a loss as motivation to train harder so they never have to feel the sting of defeat again, or the cold, lonely feeling of waking up on a hard mat, staring up at the lights and in to the eyes of the ringside doctor. And so it would appear that the core question in our argument is, who is Ronda Rousey? I mean, who is she really? A fighter's promoter and trainer may sculpt their public image, but only Rousey and those closest to her really know what kind of fighter and person she is. Make no mistake, she will get her rematch. Did she underestimate Holm? Did she slide on her training? Did she just have an off-night?
The truth is, we're about to find out who Ronda Rousey, the fighter, the athlete, the psyche, really is.