It has been over one year since Ronda Rousey lost her title to Holly Holm in emphatic fashion at UFC 193 in Melbourne. Since that fight, we've seen two other bantamweight champions crowned in that time. The title was seemingly destined to just stay warm while we waited for Ronda to make her return to take it back.
At UFC 207, Amanda Nunes capitalised on Ronda's weak stand up abilities and put on a masterclass against the former champion, winning by TKO in 48 seconds.
Let's be honest, nobody saw that coming. The whole world was so focused on the return, and much like Ronda herself, none of us were really prepared for the scenario that saw Ronda losing the fight.
THE LEAD UP
The fight was dubbed "The Return". Everywhere I looked, the attention was focused solely on Ronda making her long awaited return to the octagon. I couldn't escape the hype, yet there was basically no coverage of the current champion. The woman who currently held the coveted world title was getting nothing.
Ronda was silent with all of her media obligations, barely doing a promo interview and some training footage. For the mainevent of UFC 207, there was no open workouts, media day or fan Q&A. Nothing.
According to UFC President Dana White, it's because Ronda has already done so much media and so much for the sport, she didn't need to for this mainevent. Quite hypocritical, considering Conor McGregor was unfairly taken off the UFC 200 card for a similar antic.
Amanda Nunes fulfilled all of her obligations proudly. She wore the champion tag with such pride and joy, you'd never know she was approaching the biggest fight of her career.
Before the fight it was discovered that Ronda would be making $3 million regardless of the result. That figure equals Conor McGregor's highest disclosed pay record from UFC 202. The difference is that Conor has fought 4 times since Ronda's last fight, something I'd like to see rewarded.
Fighters will also get paid depending on what they can bring to the UFC in terms of revenue, ticket sales, all the official numbers and mumbo jumbo.
Check out the full disclosed fighter salaries here.
The higher up you put someone on a pedestal, the greater the fall they are set up for.
Amanda walked to the octagon with the aura of a champion. She was excited, prepared, and just relishing the prospect of taking on the greatest champion in the history of this division.
Ronda came in looking determined and fierce as ever, her physique was incredible. It was easy to see she had been working hard.
After waiting what seemed an eternity, the fight began and I was ridiculously excited. In the first 5 seconds, Amanda landed a jab square to the face of Ronda, and I knew immediately this was going to be a repeat of the fight against Holly Holm. Ronda's head was thrown back violently, and from then on she looked like a deer caught in headlights.
I'm not sure why, but Ronda seems intent on trying to use front kicks to keep the fight at distance to no avail, Amanda closed the gap with every exchange, executing deadly, clean punches every time. Ronda made desperate attempts to grab Amanda's hands but Amanda's speed in striking completely outmatched that of Ronda's, and it showed quite clearly.
Ronda didn't know how to anticipate or counter Amanda's striking, and after 48 seconds of punch after punch after punch, Herb Dean called a stop to the fight. She was dazed and not far from being knocked unconscious, I'm not sure she realised the fight was over straight away.
Immediately after the stoppage, Nunes turned to everyone with a finger to her lips. Her doubters had been silence, she proved herself against one of the greatest bantamweight fighters of all time. She is the undisputed champion.
While the result was enough, Nunes just had to take it further and aggressively slather salt in the wounds by jumping up and down in front of Ronda and co. In her octagon interview, she said that this is the time of the new champion the Lioness, Ronda Rousey doesn't exist, Ronda Rousey is bullshit (excuse the French), she's going back to do her movies to make her money.
I've got no problem with her celebrating her title win, it was amazing. But to completely disregard Ronda Rousey like that? Disrespectful. I wasn't keen on her over the top antics. She deserves more credit than that, I've read comments all over social media ranging from super supportive to hate filled.
Let me make one thing clear. I hate arrogance, whether it's my basketball team on Wednesday nights, or professional athletes known worldwide. I couldn't stand the one sided promotion in favour of Ronda before the fight, and I sure as hell hated Amanda Nunes carrying on like a pork chop afterwards.
Amanda, you've forgotten what Ronda Rousey did so that you could enjoy your success today. You've beaten her in the octagon, cool. But she is still a once in a lifetime figure in MMA, or sports in general. You will never truly top who she is and what she has done.
Dana White himself said that Ronda introduced female fighters to the UFC and built this bantamweight division. No one will be able to take that from her. This needs to be remembered, no matter who you are.
WHERE TO FROM HERE?
Nunes is quite obviously lapping up being a champion. She was Brazil's first female UFC champion, not an easy feat by any means. She'll be willing to take on any and all challengers at 135 pounds, constantly look to prove herself time and time again.
Valentina Shevchenko vs Julianna Peña is scheduled for January 28th and will be an incredible contest between the 2nd and 3rd ranked bantamweights. The winner of this one is probably going to be the next contender to Nunes' title, definitely one to watch for a lot of reasons.
Rousey, on the other hand, has some serious thinking to do. Firstly, if she wants to continue fighting. She doesn't need the money, so it'd be a matter of just being a fighter for as long as she can. If she does, she needs a new training base. Ronda's mother, Amanda Nunes, and the whole world knows that Edmond Tarverdyan is not a good coach.
She needs to come to terms with her flaws in boxing, and find someone who can really help her improve. Ronda released a statement to ESPN after her loss to Amanda about taking some time to reflect.
Frank Mir, a brazilian jiu jitsu expert, had a similar problem. After 4 straight losses he took some time off, worked on himself and returned with a couple of stunning knockout victories. But he had to work for it.
Ronda still has an incredible work ethic, she has fans willing to support her all the way. She needs to refocus. Take as much time as you need, but it won't do you any favours if you don't refocus. Winning isn't everything, you haven't yet learned that lesson. Surrounding yourself with positive, supportive people is just as important as a strong training camp.
I don't think it's over for Ronda, not by a mile. I want to see her come back, but only time will tell whether she continues to pursue fighting anymore. It'd be a huge shame, but it's up to her.