by Jake Nuesser
We all know by now that Ronda Rousey lost her title to Holly Holm this past weekend. Holly kept the fight in the range she excelled at. Her game plan and striking skills were 100% on point with the guidance of Greg Jackson and Mike Winkeljohn. Her takedown defense, wrestling and clinch work were ready thanks to Israel Martinez. This all resulted in a dominate performance by Holly Holm. The hype around this fight was that no one could compete with Ronda, and I have to wonder if she and her camp started to believe it. I’ll admit I was even doubting Holly had a chance. I didn’t think Ronda would out strike her, but Holly didn’t look like a world beater since entering the UFC.
Lets go back to when there was no women in the UFC. I remember when Ronda wasn’t a champion, but I knew Gene LaBell and Bas Rutten were endorsing this up and coming fighter, so I got on twitter and connected. She was maybe 2-3 fights deep in her career and she approached me at the Starbucks just outside the Mandalay Bay events center at UFC 137 Penn vs Diaz we were attending in 2011. She was with her boyfriend at the time, a Rickson Gracie blackbelt. She wasn’t brash or egotistical. We talked about hopefully doing something together in the near future. I was glad Strikeforce or Zuffa flew her out to that event, because she wasn’t expecting to go. My impression was, this girl could be good, but I really had no idea she would be the sensation she became.
The very last UFC Fan Expo Fight Chix was at was in 2013 ( note in 2014 my Mom passed away from cancer and 2015, we were banned due to the Reebok deal) We had been supportive of Ronda. We had supported her Mom’s company and donated apparel and other gear to the Grompers Judo Club and several of her charities. In just 2 short years, she went from Strikeforce Challenger’s undercard to first UFC Women’s Champion. The media and UFC marketed her as the female Mike Tyson and all most all of her matches didn’t make it out of the first round. Elisabeth and I went to Dr. Anna DeMars “tweet up meet up” for 7Generation games. After a long hard day at the UFC Fan Expo, Ronda showed up. Even as champion, she didn’t come off egotistical in that environment. She was around family and friends. Her Mom hugged her and she approached a young boy who had a broken foot and cast on—and offered to sign his cast saying “this is the first autograph I have wanted to do all day” She also went behind the hotel suite bar and made Elisabeth a drink. It was a brief moment with her, but it was her away from the lights and real.
This year things may have changed. Its hard to gauge because very few people have been in her shoes. This year in addition to title fights, she had movies, she had a book tour, she had more praise and pressure as the UFC’s biggest star. She came to our hometown in Naperville for a book signing. The store that got the signing, has run a lot of signings for people more famous than Ronda. (George Bush had a signing at this store) Elisabeth and I took our son Jase to the signing. We spoke to people in line about Ronda and her career. We didn’t really advertise that we were the owners of Fight Chix. There were people that drove 12 hours to come to this signing and the store was willing to stay open until everyone came through, got a picture and signature. They had pre-sold around 500 books. When Ronda got to around book 300, she was done. She ran threw the crowd taking massive group selfies. Jase (our son) being a cute 9 year old, did get her attention, gave her some gifts including a letter from our daughter who was ill, and a drawing he did. To say that people were disappointed would be an understatement. I thought the store had to close or something, there was no way Ronda would ditch 200+ people who bought her book right? I found out after the fact that the staff said it was the worst signing they had ever done. They had tons of returns the next day from people who bought the book expecting an autograph and photo. I don’t know the reasoning behind it, but it was a change…and it must have been due to the rise in the demands on her.
The moment things changed for me and I got upset was at the weign-ins at UFC 193. Holly Holm is like the Renzo Gracie of women’s MMA. She is one of the nicest people in the world, but also very deadly. When Ronda got off the scale and rushed Holly as Holly was sipping some water I was confused. Holly had been nothing but respectful leading up to the fight. I thought ok, maybe Dana was like “Hey Ronda, we haven’t sold out the 70,000 seat stadium, go start some shit at weigh ins to get this fight over the top.” I saw Ronda losing control. I also saw Holly not move an inch. Then her chat with Joe Rogan after weigh ins, calling Holly fake. Then going on social media with this comment:
Fake ass cheap shotting fake respect fake humility bitch – “preacher’s daughter” my ass – I see through your fake sweet act now – you’re getting your ass kicked tomorrow, and I’m really going to enjoy the beating I give you #andSTILL
It was too much and I wanted Holly to bring her back to earth, buy beating her.
Holly did just that.
The aftermath for Ronda has been harsh. Seeing heroes fall is gross. So many people that loved and supported Ronda, were now trashing her. Ronda brought more attention to women’s combat sports than anyone ever has before her. The combination of her talents, work ethic and market appeal was a perfect storm that even Dana White couldn’t ignore. That amount of hype is hard to stay guarded from. Her dominance might be a reflection of a shallow talent pool. Her mom raised her to be a champion, because she knew what it took as a former champion herself. She has done more for women in MMA and in the UFC than anyone. I don’t think women would be in the UFC if it wasn’t for Ronda Rousey.
So where does she go from here? Will the UFC keep the pressure on her? Dangle the rematch in front of her so they can cash in even more? Will she stay at the Glendale Fight Club, where Edmond will tell her she was doing great in that fight with Holm, tell her she can switch over to boxing and win world titles? Or will she pull the inner circle tighter and make the right moves for her career? She has given us all so much. She doesn’t need to fight again if she doesn’t want to. She can transition to movies, teach, she has the financial means to do whatever she wants at this point. My advice, stay off the internet for the next 6 months, and listen to your Mom. We love and thank you for what you have done for women in the sport of MMA. The hype behind you may have made you lose your way, but you are a survivor and can find your way back. Whatever direction you go in, we wish you the best and thank you.