At the ceremonial weigh-ins for UFC 207, I thought we were in for a real slobberknocker of a fight. Ronda Rousey showed up in absolutely incredible shape. She looked the part and seemed intense and determined, though she said little to the media. Amanda Nunes was equally as intense and ready to fight as well. The face-off at the weigh-ins and the opening moments of the main event felt big.
Then after 48 seconds, Ronda Rousey walked away with a second knockout loss on her record. It was almost uncomfortable to watch, to be honest as it was a full on demolition project by Amanda Nunes. All credit to her for being prepared well to seemingly cement herself as the standard bearer of the women’s bantamweight division going forward.
One of the popular posts on Twitter and the topic of a few other bloggers this morning seems to have been for Ronda to jump over to WWE now that she has lost twice (and in fairly spectacular fashion) in time for Wrestlemania 33. I think WWE needs to hold off on that idea for a little bit.
With all apologies to Bray Wyatt’s gimmick, Ronda Rousey was a real life eater of worlds before the Holm fight. She ended fights in seconds, not rounds or minutes. One could argue that the competition she faced up until she got to Holm and Nunes was not on the same level as she was but being realistic, anything can happen inside the cage on any given night. Until now, Rousey had been a force to be reckoned with.
It’s not like Rousey is a stranger to WWE. On an April Sunday in the San Francisco Bay area, Rousey did in fact make a WWE appearance at Wrestlemania 31. In that moment, she stood alongside The Rock when he confronted The Authority. She grabbed Stephanie McMahon in a very loose arm hold as a part of that segment, teasing the idea of locking in her patented arm bar that has finished nine UFC fights for her, and fans popped for the idea.
But that was a very different Ronda. The mystique had not yet been broken by Holly Holm’s kick to the head. Her confidence had not yet been shattered to the point of her becoming reclusive and depressed. The Ronda we saw last night was clearly shaken on the very first shots she took from Nunes. Among some fight sports writers, there is an opinion that the Rousey “brand” is now damaged goods.
Some pro wrestling fans are drawing comparisons to Brock Lesnar in this situation and it is a fair one. Lesnar lost two fights (to Shane Carwin and Alistair Overeem respectively) by knockout prior to returning to WWE in 2012, yet when he returned he was still “The Beast Incarnate” that dominated several top WWE stars in his latest run.
The biggest difference between Lesnar and Rousey is in their history. Lesnar was already a multiple time WWE Champion, a King of the Ring winner, and a winner of the Royal Rumble before he set aside pro wrestling to chase MMA goals. WWE fans knew exactly what Brock Lesnar was and still is capable of when he returned. No matter what happened outside of the pro wrestling circle, fans reacted to Lesnar and didn’t care about the losses.
Rousey, however, is one of the biggest names in UFC without any sort of history within professional wrestling. After two devastating title bout losses in a row, you have to wonder where her head is at. Does she want to be involved with any sort of fight sports, worked or not, in the immediate future? Would she rather chase other projects? That’s all very hard to say and I’m sure if she wants us to know, she will tell us.
I’ve seen the tweets where fans want to see her at Wrestlemania in Orlando this year, and I can understand to a point why they would say such things. After all, there is a ready-made story between her and Stephanie McMahon they can plug right into. But for both Rousey’s sake and WWE’s sake, I believe that would be a bad decision right now.
Time and space are great creators of fondness. We tend to either forget things or just sort of wax poetically over the good when given that time and space from a moment. But with Wrestlemania only a few short months away, this 48-second loss is still going to be fresh in people’s minds. It will be very hard to create something that seems believable for Rousey that soon.
WWE has a crack production staff. Given time, they could recreate the Rousey mystique to some degree with video production and teasers. They could set the stage for a one-off appearance at SummerSlam or Survivor Series that would make the show, and Rousey, feel like a much bigger deal. It would make people forget about a 48-second one sided rout of a loss. It also gives Rousey an opportunity to truly clear her mind and decide if that’s something she even wants to do.
Believe me, I’m not forgetting the concept that pro wrestling is a worked product. They took a five-loss Ken Shamrock and turned him into the “World’s Most Dangerous Man,” making him the Intercontinental Champion. We’ve watched Lesnar’s second WWE run play out with a championship reign, a win at Wrestlemania over the Undertaker, and several other dominant marquee wins. I’m sure that WWE’s booking team could figure something out for Rousey as well.
I just think they need to wait a little bit longer than Wrestlemania before they decide to do it.