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Ronda Rousey sat down with Ellen DeGeneres and told the daytime talk show host that her mixed martial arts career was coming to an end: “Everyone better watch, because the show isn’t going to be around forever.” Can you blame her?
For everything Rousey has accomplished, perhaps the smartest thing for her to do at the age of 29 is figure out how to make sure her career is over before she turns 31. If she beats Amanda Nunes at UFC 207 on Dec. 30 (online betting), what’s the point? Unless she’s out for revenge against Holly Holm, there really is no reason for her to fight again. I know, Rousey-Cristiane Justino is still the Floyd Mayweather Jr.-Manny Pacquiao of MMA super fights, but leave it alone. Neither Rousey nor “Cyborg” will cash $100 million checks if they were to meet; and if you’re Rousey, the risk alone isn’t worth whatever the Ultimate Fighting Championship is paying.
It’s a farfetched idea to begin with, considering that Rousey clearly doesn’t want to face “Cyborg” at 140 pounds. It truly is like Mayweather-Pacquiao, except for the money. Ah yes, the money.
With all that’s going on with fighters being unhappy with their pay, why would Rousey continue her MMA career if her heart isn’t really in it? It doesn’t matter what her commercial about being perfect says, her veil of invincibility is what kept her here to being with. Now that she has lost, what is she fighting for? The money? That can be found in Hollywood, World Wrestling Entertainment or wherever she chooses to go without getting punched in the face for a living. It’s really not all that enticing if your competitive spirit isn’t in the game any longer.
That’s not to say Rousey isn’t competitive, but there are likely things she’d prefer to do aside from killing herself in training and risking life and limb in the cage. Not to mention the rigorous media obligations that likely played a hand in her not being able to bite down on an apple for several months after Holm wrecked her with that now infamous head kick.
It’s easy to see that the particular hunger that led her to the top has evaporated. She doesn’t need fighting anymore to make a living. Of course, we’re selfish, so we want her to fight forever -- or until we say it’s time to go -- but we don’t have better options like Rousey does. If she beats Nunes at UFC 207, her aura is restored to some extent. She can leave on a winning note. The movie roles will come back to her and all those doors that may have closed briefly will be swinging wide open again; and you better believe the pot of old at the end of those rainbows is worth more than whatever pot of silver is at the end of the Octagon.
Listen, no matter what anybody tells you, she fought for the money. Sure, the pride thing was great, too, and competitiveness is equally important, but the money was what kept her going. She now has a lot of it and doesn’t have to be concerned about her next meal. She wrote a book, did some swimsuit modeling, promoted some products and will be on the big screen. What is another world title run going to do for her, aside from get her hurt?
Ultimately, all Rousey can really do is beat Nunes to reclaim the title, get her revenge against Holm and take on a super fight with “Cyborg.” Of the three, regaining her title seems to be the most feasible, although it’s not a given that she’ll unseat Nunes. Fighting Holm, who has lost two in a row since that unforgettable November night, is still appealing from a revenge standpoint, but is it worth the risk? And it has become clear that “Cyborg” wants the fight with Rousey more than Rousey wants it with “Cyborg.”
Rousey said she’s exhausted by the buildup for a fight. It truly is a challenge to have a fight announced, train and then deal with an endless stream of media obligations. By the time the fight rolls around, Rousey may not have that same fire to fight because it has been dragged out of her through camp. She has done enough, and watching Zuffa sell the UFC for $4 billion is proof positive that she did her job. However, she isn’t getting a portion of the sale price she and Conor McGregor drove through the roof. While McGregor still relishes in all of the hoopla leading into a fight, even he is growing weary of it all.
Rousey went on a hellacious run with fights, media obligations and side projects that essentially accelerated her path to retirement. She gave it all she had, and she’ll give whatever is left on Dec. 30. After that, she deserves that ride into the sunset.
Andreas Hale is the editorial content director of 2DopeBoyz.com, co-host of the boxing, MMA and pro wrestling podcast “The Corner” and a regular columnist for Sherdog.com. You can follow on Twitter for his random yet educated thoughts on combat sports, music, film and popular culture.