Last summer Ronda Rousey was on top of the world, last November her world crumbled.
By now we’ve all seen or heard about Ronda’s crushing defeat at the hands of Holly Holm. We’ve all read the headlines that blame her rapid rise to superstardom, trainer or whirlwind personal life for her downfall. What if I was to tell you that Rousey’s destiny was predetermined 2 decades ago?
It’s true, Ronda’s rise to fame and fight narrative closely parallels another iconic fighter, Mike Tyson, and if you were to follow the events of Tyson’s career you would’ve saw this coming for Ronda.
Before Rousey ever stepped into the octagon against Holly Holm she had drawn comparisons to Tyson. Both fighters were said to have had no equals, both fighters had finished every opponent to stand toe-to-toe with them and both fighters had transcended their sport. It went as far as people coining Rousey “The baddest woman on the planet,” an obvious ode to Tyson’s 90’s moniker. Rousey’s similarities to Tyson go further than just a nickname, her and Iron Mike have endured many of the same trials and tribulations.
Both Rousey and Tyson had a strong 3-4 year run where they looked unbeatable. Between 1986-1989 Mike established himself as one of the power punchers in boxing history and made a habit of finishing opponents in the first few rounds. Ronda had a similar run from 2013-2015.
Ronda began as an arm bar specialist but grew into a fighter that was finishing women in a multitude of ways. Her standing KO of Bethe Correia solidified her as one of the most diverse female fighters in MMA history and inflated the mystique of invincibility around her.
Unfortunately, the negative similarities between her and Tyson were also present.
When Mike Tyson’s career began to take off in the late-80’s he became engulfed by Hollywood and that led to a new circle of friends and a plethora of new opportunities. In 1998 Tyson’s personal life became national news when he married actress Robin Givens. The pair had a tumultous relationship and their story is one of abuse and domestic violence.
Last summer Ronda’s career saw a similar turn. No longer was Ronda only known for her amazing fighting skills; the general public now wanted to know about her life outside of the octagon and it opened up a new world of distractions. Her relationship with UFC heavyweight Travis Browne was swirled in domestic violence but unlike Tyson and Givens it didn’t occur between the two.
Browne had just left a marriage in which he was accused of abusing his wife and Rousey had admitted to beating up an ex-boyfriend for taking nude pictures of her without her consent. Both stories made national headlines and Ronda fielded questions about her stance on domestic violence up until the day before the fight.
It didn’t help that Ronda had caped up against Floyd Mayweather for his domestic abuse a few months earlier. That placed the spotlight on her issues and made people demand answers for her perceived hypocrisy.
Another Tyson parallel was revealed yesterday. Ronda was on the Ellen Show and revealed that she contemplated suicide after her loss to Holly Holm.
The New York Times ran an article in 1988 discussing a rumored Mike Tyson suicide attempt. At the time Tyson downplayed the situation but knowing what would become of him after that leads many to believe that it was a precursor for things to come.
”They’re trying to make a freak show out of my life, to say I would try to kill myself,” Tyson said during an interview on WNYW, a New York television station. ”Nobody has more, better reasons to live than I do.”
”It’s funny. God, from a little mistake. I can’t believe someone would consider me trying to kill myself. No one loves living more than I do. I got in the car. I always skid off crazy, take off crazy, drive kind of fast. I had just took off. I know something happened but I wasn’t sure. I can’t help if I got into a car accident. These things happen to people. People get into car accidents.”
We’d think the same of Ronda Rousey. Who has more opportunities than her in MMA?
Ronda is still in demand in Hollywood, her octagon return will be one of the highest grossing in UFC history and a win could set her up to make more than she was before the loss.
Ronda still has a bright career and future ahead of her if she chooses, but she must become mentally strong enough to seize the opportunity.
When Tyson was knocked out by Buster Douglas on February 11th, 1990 he fought 4 more times before going to prison and driving a stake in his career. With that being said, even he was able to come back and recapture two championships before losing his mind versus Evander Holyfield.
Can Ronda Rousey put this one loss behind her and reclaim her spot atop the women’s Bantamweight division?
If she follows the pattern of Tyson’s career we will see her rise once more before tasting her final defeat. The roller coaster is part of the ride and every good story has a rise, a fall, a climb back to the top and an endpoint. Ronda’s end doesn’t have to be the KO she suffered in the Fall of 2016 but it will be if she doesn’t get her head refocused on fighting.
Ronda should sit down with her friend Iron Mike and learn how to overcome this adversity and avoid the mistakes that ultimately led to his demise.