Sunday, January 10, 2016

Ronda Rousey: Broken And Beaten…Now What?

As published in The County Times (

By Ronald N. Guy Jr.

Roaming my well-worn paths of SoMD, I spotted a yard ablaze with Christmas lights a mere week after Halloween. Is it already time for flying reindeer, a financial hemorrhage and the rotund distributor of dreams come true? A bucket of bite-sized sugar bombs still resides on my kitchen table. What happened to…November? It’s a nice month. Veteran’s Day. Endless football. College basketball’s kickoff. National Epilepsy and Native American Heritage Month. It’s even National Novel Writing Month. Whoa…I’m feeling the pressure

And there’s November’s crown jewel: Thanksgiving, my top seed of underrated holidays (that aforementioned way-too-early Christmas display is proof). Turkey Day is steeped in American history. It offers a brief respite (hopefully) from the daily grind, time with family and the opportunity to reflect and be thankful. And if you’re upright, healthy and not desperately fleeing a terrorist-infected homeland or picking up the pieces after a tragic attack, there’s much to appreciate.
Sports seem so small considering the disturbing nature of recent world events. Nevertheless sports are what I do and sports are why you’re reading this column. I suppose as fans we’re all grateful that games continue to be played. As for the athletes themselves, there are many who should feel particularly indebted at the moment. Stephen Curry’s Golden State Warriors are blazing hot. Alex Ovechkin recently broke the Russian record for NHL goals. Bryce Harper was awarded the National League MVP award. And Ronda Rousey, after being knocked out by Holly Holm, is the former UCF bantamweight champion. Wait. What?

On the surface, that makes no sense. While contemplating her battered body and wounded pride, it would undoubtedly make little sense to Rousey too. Thankful for losing her belt, an undefeated record and title of the most overwhelming MMA fighter – male or female – the sport has ever seen?


Rousey was a perfect 12-0 entering the fight with Holm. Nine of her matches had ended in submissions, via her trademark arm bar; the three other victories were by KO/TKO. Only one fight had gone past the first round; eight had ended in less than a minute. She was devastating, charismatic and attractive. She was the sport’s biggest attraction, its first cross-over star. The ceiling on her future was raised with every convincing win.

So now what? Holm left Rousey bloodied and in a heap on the canvas. After rising to congratulate her victorious opponent, the one-time Queen of Destruction resembled the Cowardly Lion after Dorothy popped him in the nose. The rage was gone. She looked…broken.

And therein lies the opportunity and Rousey’s reason to be thankful.

Not unlike society, the sports world loves champions. Winners are showered with adulations. Vince Lombardi once said, “Winning isn’t everything, it’s the only thing.” But it isn’t that simple. What appeals to people isn’t just winning, it’s triumph after adversity. Few can relate to perfection and total dominance – the pre-Holm Rousey. We are flawed. We fail. We dominate…nothing. So victory after apparent catastrophic failure is inspiring. Michael Jordan, on his way to six championships, was beaten back for years by Boston and Detroit in the playoffs and, after his baseball fling, lost to Orlando in the conference semifinals. Larry Bird and Magic Johnson took turns getting the better of each other throughout their careers. Chris Evert and Martina Navratilova, the greatest rivalry I’ve witnessed, split their 80 matches 37 (Evert) to 43 (Navratilova). Each player failed as much as she succeeded. Even Tom Brady and Bill Belichick, the best quarterback and head coach of their era, have been uneven. Yes, they’ve won four Super Bowls. But they’ve also lost two and grinded for 10 years between their third and fourth titles. Mike Tyson never did recover from the Buster Douglass loss. Personal and professional adversity seems to have gotten the best of Tiger Woods, too. 

What does the future hold for Rousey? Currently bloodied and beaten, she has a chance to author her own Rocky Balboa-like return to glory. I hope she does. An epic Rousey comeback would offer us evidence to believe in the never-ending series of our own. We could all use the encouragement.  

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