The hype had been built to astronomical sizes. She had been itching at her opportunity to get back into the ring for over a year. 48 seconds later, Ronda Rousey has some serious questions to answer.
Against Amanda Nunes, the women’s bantamweight champion, she simply, had no answer to the onslaught that came from Nunes. Jabs and punches of relentless speed to which Rousey had no answer. More than that, Rousey did not look like the cage fighter of old. In her defeat to Holly Holm, she oozed confidence before and during the fight. Her decision to not touch gloves with Holm during the pre-fight suggested arrogance and the idea that – in her own mind – she was untouchable.
Then came her defeat, and for a year she lay underground. The assumption was that her return would be a grand event; announcing her comeback to the cage in such destructive fashion that one would believe Ronda had truly returned. To be truthful, once she stepped into the ring against Nunes, she never looked in contention.
Nunes’ brilliance in the cage cannot be dismissed. From the opening seconds, she hunted Rousey down, landing sequential blows of around half a dozen at a time on Rousey’s face. Rousey backed off, took evasive actions and Nunes simply followed her for more. It was a performance worthy of a champion, and the retention of her belt inside a minute is just cause for Nunes’ sheer destructive prowess in the cage.
Rousey now has a decision on her hands. An aura of invincibility shattered for the second successive fight, one she spent a year rebuilding after her loss to Holm. The manner in which Nunes dispatched her challenge suggests the California based fighter will be out of bantamweight title contention for a considerable period.
At the age of 29, she still has years to recover. Whether she decides to continue in UFC is the big question. She has options in returning to judo, the discipline which saw her compete at the Olympics in 2004 and 2008, or reverting back to the featherweight class she fought in until 2012. In an unconventional move, she may persevere with an acting career that has shown signs of box office promise.
Jon Jones has insisted she stay in UFC in order to prove the doubters that continue to grow in number, while Rousey’s mother has urged her to retire from the sport entirely. She has said she will continue to reflect on the events of that night in Las Vegas, and announce a decision soon. But certainly she is at a low ebb in her career, and should she brave the doubters and return to the octagon, it will take years of work to return her to the peak of the old dominance.