The Question: Why Did the World Turn on Ronda Rousey?

Jeremy Botter@jeremybotterMMA Senior WriterNovember 18, 2015

MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA - NOVEMBER 15:  Ronda Rousey prepares to enter the Octagon before facing Holly Holm in their UFC women's bantamweight championship bout during the UFC 193 event at Etihad Stadium on November 15, 2015 in Melbourne, Australia. (Photo by Brandon Magnus/Zuffa LLC/Zuffa LLC via Getty Images)
Brandon Magnus/Zuffa LLC/Getty Images

Perhaps it wasn't the biggest upset in mixed martial arts history. Maybe it was. There's one thing we know for certain: Holly Holm's upset of Ronda Rousey at UFC 193 was a moment we won't soon forget.

The reaction to Rousey's loss was swift and fairly one-sided. Fans took to social media to express their glee at the now-former champion losing her belt. Miesha Tate weighed in, live from a strip club in Las Vegas. Cristiane Justino, another frequent target of Rousey's barbs, had her say.

The UFC's golden girl was down, and everyone wanted a chance to kick her.

Bleacher Report lead writers Jonathan Snowden and Jeremy Botter got together to discuss the reaction to Rousey's loss and attempted to answer The Question: Why did the world turn on Ronda Rousey?

MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA - NOVEMBER 15:  (R-L) Holly Holm of the United States takes down Ronda Rousey of the United States in their UFC women's bantamweight championship bout during the UFC 193 event at Etihad Stadium on November 15, 2015 in Melbourne, Austr
Josh Hedges/Zuffa LLC/Getty Images

 

Jeremy Botter: Jonathan, it has been a couple of days since Ronda went down in Melbourne, Australia. We've had a little bit of time to digest what happened and to reflect on both the fight and the reaction to it.

I was surprised at the way fans reacted when Rousey lost. I expected Tate and Justino to have their say because of their history with Rousey. She has not exactly been nice to them over the years. And I expected Bethe Correia to say something crazy, and she did not disappoint, because that's what she does.

But the fan reaction took me by surprise, if we're being honest. I feel like this is one of those deals where MMA fans act like music hipsters who discover a band before they are famous, then turn on them once they achieve a bit of success. Rousey broke through walls that MMA has never even come remotely close to, pulling in fans who would never buy a fight otherwise.

The result? Fans threw heaping piles of scorn on her even before she was awake enough to leave the Octagon under her own power. I don't get it. Maybe you can help explain?

MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA - NOVEMBER 15:  (R-L) Holly Holm of the United States punches Ronda Rousey of the United States in their UFC women's bantamweight championship bout during the UFC 193 event at Etihad Stadium on November 15, 2015 in Melbourne, Australi
Josh Hedges/Zuffa LLC/Getty Images

 

Jonathan Snowden: Despite its reputation as human cockfighting, MMA is surprisingly polite. Most fighters treat their opponents with a courtly level of respect. Were this a different time, fighters would likely bow or curtsy prior to each bout. At the end of each 15-minute bout, the two competitors routinely hug and exchange pleasantries.

If it weren't for the spilled blood, it would be almost genteel.

Rousey exploded into that mix like an atom bomb. She's spent more than two years behaving like a cartoon supervillain, flipping opponents the bird, taunting them mercilessly and even refusing a post-fight handshake.

People notice that stuff. They notice things like her meltdown at the weigh-ins before the fight. And they don't like it.

Rousey also spent her entire UFC tenure proclaiming herself unbeatable. We didn't set impossibly high standards for Rousey; she did it for herself, and did so with a sneer.

If fighters want to be Ric Flair, they can't just cut promos on their opponents and brag about how awesome they are. They have to walk that aisle.

If you say you're the best as loud and as often as Rousey did, you have to deliver. When you don't, there will be some good-natured ribbing. And you know what? There should be. 

MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA - NOVEMBER 15:  (R-L) Holly Holm of the United States punches Ronda Rousey of the United States in their UFC women's bantamweight championship bout during the UFC 193 event at Etihad Stadium on November 15, 2015 in Melbourne, Australi
Josh Hedges/Zuffa LLC/Getty Images

 

Jeremy: I feel like there are two things we need to keep in mind here.

1. Rousey is an obvious promoter. The things she says are designed to make you love or hate her, as long as one of the two happens. She's trying to take your money, people, and she's been quite successful at it. The more she talked about how awesome she is and how she's not a #DNB and all that, the more women stood behind her and, more importantly for her, became invested in watching her fight.

Of course, on the flip side, the more she talks, the more MMA fans become disenchanted with her. It is a curious thing too; Conor McGregor has done the same thing, and he has legions of fans willing to say almost anything about their hero, no matter how farcical. But when Rousey does the same thing, she gets slammed.

Hmm. I wonder why that is? Could it have anything to do with the fact that she's a woman? (Of course it does.)

2. Up until last Saturday night, Rousey talked the talk and was also quite successful at walking the walk. But the turn on Rousey started before the fight ever started; the loss just made things worse. 

MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA - NOVEMBER 15:  (L-R) Holly Holm of the United States follows up after knocking down Ronda Rousey of the United States with a kick in their UFC women's bantamweight championship bout during the UFC 193 event at Etihad Stadium on Novem
Josh Hedges/Zuffa LLC/Getty Images

 

Jonathan: I'm not so sure Rousey's public persona is an act designed to take our money. That may be part of it, and I'm certain some of her attention grabs, like inserting herself into the Kardashian's orbit or feuding with Floyd Mayweather Jr., are carefully calculated.

But the same combative behavior behind the scenes with rivals and the same dramatic interpersonal relationships with family and trainers characterized her judo career as well. And that was long before there was money to be made or fans to woo.

When you talk to those she's left in her wake, or read her own autobiography, you see a pattern of self-destructive behavior that runs deeper than "Ronda Rousey is an obvious promoter." It's who she is at the core: passionate, angry, self-conscious and competitive.

That's not always a bad thing. In Rousey's case, it's led to tremendous athletic success. But it's also the kind of thing lots of fans and fellow fighters don't care for. And make no mistake: There are people in the industry just as happy as any rabid fan to see her fall from grace.

Being a woman, arguably the most famous in all of athletics, certainly exacerbates things. You can look at the comments underneath any Rousey article and find disgusting misogyny at every turn. But any athlete with Rousey's dismissive attitude toward fellow competitors or her almost comical self-belief is a magnet for detractors.

This was simply their first real opportunity to pounce.

 

Jeremy: I'm not sure that "Well, she was a jerk to us, so we're going to be a jerk to her" is a good way of going about life. 

Clearly I'm in the minority here, but if you watch the close-up video of her sustaining a knockout that popped up on YouTube—or the gross TMZ footage of her being stalked through the Los Angeles airport upon arriving home from Australia—and still feel the need to heap scorn upon a human being who has done so much for the sport you love, regardless of the mean things she's said about others...

Well, I don't know what to tell you.