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Ronda Rousey is ‘still grieving’ over her lost sense of invincibility

The Washington Post logo The Washington Post 22/04/2016 Des Bieler
Ronda Rousey was 12-0, and had rarely been challenged, in her MMA career before losing in November. © Harry How/Getty Images Ronda Rousey was 12-0, and had rarely been challenged, in her MMA career before losing in November.

Holly Holm didn’t just take Ronda Rousey’s UFC bantamweight title last year. She took the previously undefeated fighter’s sense of invincibility, and Rousey is clearly struggling to come to terms with not being the near-superhero that many people — including herself — saw her as.

“I’m still grieving the person that could have won it all. But I have to live up to the fact that I’m not her, that’s just who I’d like to be, and instead I’m what I need to be, for myself and everyone else,” Rousey said in a video interview with Time.

As part of the magazine’s “100 most influential people” edition, Rousey talked about finding her way after getting knocked out by Holm at UFC 193 in November. She spoke of the need to regain the self-belief she once had and how much “inspiration” she takes from the support of fans.

“You have to go through those stages of acceptance and renewed optimism,” Rousey said. “You need to find that doe-eyed part of you that walked into an arena the first time and saw all the lights and thought, like, ‘One day that’s going to be me, that’s going to have my name up there.’ ‘One day I’m going to slap my stomach and I’m going to feel there’s metal under there,’ you know? That’s what I need to find again.”

Rousey has not fought since November, and she has mostly laid low, apart from appearing in the Sports Illustrated swimsuit issue. She also made an appearance on “Ellen,” telling the daytime TV host that, immediately after that loss to Holm, she was “literally sitting there and thinking about killing” herself.

Ronda Rousey receives medical treatment after being defeated by Holly Holm (in the background). © Quinn Rooney/Getty Images Ronda Rousey receives medical treatment after being defeated by Holly Holm (in the background).

Rousey later seemed to regain some of her feistiness, including reportedly seeking a trademark on the phrase, “F— them all,” but she made no pretense of hiding her vulnerability in the Time video. She knows now how a dizzying ascent upward can so easily be followed by an equally precipitous drop.

“I have this wall in my house that’s right outside my bathroom, it’s all the good things that I put up there,” Rousey said. “Like little girl letters — the cutest, sweetest, most adorable things, and I tape them all over my wall. That’s my inspiration back to me, is all the words from all those people that reached out to me that, like, I’m somehow helping them and they’re really helping me back.

“Because I hear so many of the worst things anyone could ever even imagine to think to say about me every single day. Thousands of times, all of these people are constantly trying to reach me and tell me these negative things. People like to see people rise because they want to rise, but they like to see people fall because they want to feel like they’re human like they are.

“So that’s why we keep doing this cycle of raising people up and letting them crash down,” Rousey continued. “Raising people up and letting them crash down.

“I’m coming back to win this title for the people that believed in me.”

One of those people is, or was, a cancer patient who Rousey says met her at one of Holm’s open workouts before their fight. With great emotion, Rousey said, “She was, like, ‘Please, please win,’ and I promised her I would win, and I didn’t.”

It is apparent that, months later, Rousey is still coping with the psychological damage that loss inflicted on her. The good news for MMA fans is that she does sound determined to step back into the Octagon, a prospect that, amid news of the 29-year-old star getting more movie roles, some thought was unlikely.

Rousey is expected to return to competition in October or November, possibly at the UFC’s long-awaited debut in New York, but her next fight probably won’t be against Holm, who lost the bantamweight crown in March to Miesha Tate. In preparation for the expected match, Tate has made it clear that she intends to exploit Rousey’s new-found vulnerability, calling her longtime antagonist “a broken woman” and saying that Rousey’s suicidal thoughts were “a big sign of mental weakness.”

Tate, who has lost both of her previous fights with Rousey, has also stated that she will bring much better technique and strategy to their third matchup. It remains to be seen what Rousey brings, but it seems it won’t be quite the same boundless bravado we saw from her before that fateful November night.

(H/T Fox Sports)

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