UFC commentator Joe Rogan is concerned former bantamweight champion Ronda Rousey may never return to her best following her shock loss to Holly Holm.
Rousey was brutally knocked out in the second round of her showdown with Holm at UFC 193 in circumstances that stunned the MMA world. Earlier this month, Rowdy claimed she has not been able to eat an apple since the fight and would be back in action in “three to six months,” per ESPN Magazine’s Ideas of the Year edition (h/t Rory Brigstock-Barron of the MailOnline).
However, in an exclusive interview with Stephie Haynes of Bloody Elbow, Rogan cast doubts over whether we will see Rousey, who won 12 fights in a row before losing to Holm, at her absolute peak again:
When Holly Holm head kicked Ronda and knocked her out, we witnessed a traumatic brain injury, make no mistake about it.
I had this conversation with Dana (White), and he was like, "Oh, Ronda's fine," and I'm like, "Listen man, you can't say that." She's not fine. You don't get head kick knocked out and be fine. That's not fine. There's damage for sure. The question is, how much damage? We just don't know.
Rogan also questioned whether Rousey would be quite as durable if her and Holm were ever to rematch. Warning, expletive language used. “What's it gonna be like in the second fight? What if Holm hits her with a shot and her legs buckle?” he pondered. “Then we realise, ‘Oh s--t, her chin's not there anymore.’”
Despite the emphatic outcome, with Holm dominating Rousey for more than one round before finishing the contest, the prospect of a rematch has been pondered in some quarters, with Lewis McKeever of Bloody Elbow noting it’s “expected” the pair will go head-to-head again at UFC 200 in July.
However, Bleacher Report’s MMA writer Jonathan Snowden doesn’t feel another bout with Holm would be ideal for Rousey at this juncture:
Rogan feels the former champion may have been a little too distracted heading into the fight with Holm at UFC 193, too:
The Ronda Rousey story in a lot of ways is a classic tale. It's a tale of a legend and a tale of falling into all of the traps that have come before that we've seen from famous celebrities and athletes. Everything except drugs... she fell for the distractions.
When you're an athlete, especially a combat sports athlete, that stoic existence, that singular focus on the task, is one of the most under-appreciated aspects of training and becoming a successful fighter.
The commentator states he thinks Rousey had that focus “earlier in her career,” but now “she’s overrun with distractions.” Indeed, in the wake of her loss to Holm, Rowdy is trading the Octagon for the silver screen, with UFC co-owner Lorenzo Fertitta confirming the bantamweight will film two movies before coming back to MMA, per Damon Martin of FOX Sports.
Should Rousey come back and be thrust into an immediate rematch with Holm, it’s imperative she adopts different tactics than were on show in November.
At UFC 193, Rousey was far too upright in her forays toward Holm. She even sought to trade blows with her opponent, which is peculiar when you consider Holm is a world champion boxer. The end result was Rousey being tagged easily, and as frustrations noticeably grew, she became an easy target for a knockout.
Rogan thinks it’s important for Rousey to branch out in her training beyond current coach Edmond Tarverdyan:
Ronda's got to go to a camp that has the full arsenal. She's got to go to a Firas Zahabi or a Matt Hume, or someone like that, in my opinion. If I was talking to her, that's what I would tell her. I'd say, ‘You can't just train with a judo coach and Edmond holds the pads for you.'
Edmond has definitely done some great things for her boxing technique, that can't be denied. Her combinations when she hits the pads are very impressive, but there are other elements that come with striking. It's not just about throwing your hands and having the technique look good.
“I think she needs someone who will objectively assess her game as an outsider,” Rogan adds. Warning, expletive language used. “Not someone like Edmond, who trained her from the beginning with mitts; she needs someone else, as well. …When we talk about MMA being high level problem solving, Holly Holm solved the problem. She had all the answers and she got a f--king A+.”
It’s important these amendments are made. As noted by MMA journalist Josh Gross, for Rousey, a rematch against Holm could well be make or break for her reputation:
After a loss as spectacular as the one Rousey suffered, there are always going to be major question marks upon return. But the tangible evidence shows us the former champion is remarkably talented and hugely determined—two qualities that will put her in a strong position should she face Holm again.
Changes will be needed and, in that respect, this defeat may serve to push Rousey into becoming a much more rounded fighter. Once these movie commitments are complete, the loss will also prompt Rowdy into refining her focus back toward MMA and reestablishing herself as one of the biggest names in the game.