Sport MMA Rousey was an accident waiting to happen

Rousey was an accident waiting to happen

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Life was good for Ronda Rousey.

Maybe, as with Mike Tyson circa 1990 or Lennox Lewis in 2001, it was too good.

Other than age, distraction is the worst enemy of an athlete.

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It’s fair to assume that after her ascent to the top of her sport (and the social pages) over the past two years, Rousey has been breathing rarefied air.

The warning signs she was lacking focus came during Saturday’s weigh-in, when she rushed at challenger Holly Holm and then launched into an embarrassing tirade about how she was the one who had been disrespected.

Rousey refused to touch gloves with Holm prior to the start of the fight. Photo: Getty
Rousey refused to touch gloves with Holm prior to the start of the fight. Photo: Getty

Holm, the 34-year-old former boxing champion she was about to face, stood her ground and looked unperturbed by the rant. That was telling.

Then Rousey refused to touch gloves with Holm prior to the fight, the main event at UFC 193 in Melbourne.

The champion looked like a woman not confident in her preparation, and was intent in working herself into a frenzy to intimidate her opponent.

Remind you of anyone?

Yes, Rousey’s KO loss in the second round certainly had hallmarks of Tyson’s brutal beating at the hands of Buster Douglas in Tokyo 25 years ago.

But unlike Tyson, Rousey’s distractions were not chemical or carnal in nature.

Rather, she’s become an A-lister – in its own way a condition just as debilitating for fighters.

Rousey was in Entourage and The Expendables, and has a film coming up with Mark Wahlberg. She’s a bona fide superstar.

Her problems had more in common with Lennox Lewis’ ill-fated trip to South Africa to fight Hasim Rahman in 2001.

Lewis arrived dreadfully out of shape and with soft focus, after just wrapping shooting on Ocean’s 11. He was subsequently knocked out by a single right hand in round 5.

All this, of course, does a great disservice to Holm – who should be basking in the glory of perhaps the biggest UFC upset of all time.

She came to Melbourne with unshakeable belief and a game plan that worked against a shorter opponent.

The fight was over 59 seconds into round two when a Holm kick connected with Rousey's jaw. Photo: Getty
The fight was over 59 seconds into round two when a Holm kick connected with Rousey’s jaw. Photo: Getty

Only once did it appear she had been drawn into a ground war with Rousey, but she regained her feet and started dishing out the punishment.

She used her longer arms and legs to keep the champion off balance and eventually brought proceedings to a close with a perfectly executed kick to the jaw.

Given Rousey’s stature, there will be plenty of calls for a rematch.

It would be box office gold,  no doubt the biggest fight in UFC history.

Should Rousey call for one straight away, it will be a nod to the fact she believes there are things she can do better next time around – an acknowledgement, perhaps, that her training was less than ideal.

But if it was ideal, she lives with the knowledge that – for once in UFC – she just wasn’t good enough.

Coming back from a knockout that decisive, that violent, will take guts.

Up until now she’s been a phenomenon – but now everybody knows she can be got.

It’s after you’ve been beaten the true tests of character emerge.

Lewis fought Rahman again immediately – knocking him out with one punch.

Prison derailed Tyson’s chance to fight Douglas a second time, and he never carried the same aura again after that surreal morning in Tokyo.

Perhaps the biggest question is, will Rousey want to do it again?

The best fighters in the world are hungry.

At this stage in her life Rousey, 28, has plenty of options.

Is getting back in the Octagon with an opponent of Holm’s size and skill one she’s considering?

If it is, she’ll need to be a lot better than she was on Sunday.


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