Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you’ve probably heard by now of Ronda Rousey’s recent loss to Amanda Nunes at UFC 207 in Las Vegas. There’s been crazy hype over Rousey’s anticipated comeback after losing her 12-match winning streak and championship title to Holly Holm at UFC 193. However, many fans are disappointed in Rousey’s performance. Her supporters seemed to have had as much confidence in her as she displayed herself leading up to the fight, which, needless to say, was thanks to Rousey’s ability to run her mouth and mercilessly trash talk about her opponents. For a while she was able to back up her talk with consecutive wins – even complete blowouts. But the sport has caught up to her, and maybe so has a little Karma. At this point Rousey doesn’t seem to be much more than a fighting has-been who also sets the bar at record low for sportsmanship.

When I was in high school, a bunch of students and I would get together for “Fight Nights” at my friend Tyler’s house whenever Rousey was in the lineup. We’d spread word around school and get probably 50 kids to show up, all cheering wildly for “the Beast,” as we called her. People loved her. They loved what she did for women’s UFC, essentially legitimizing it as a sport. They loved the way she dominated the ring, winning match after match. Her strength and martial arts techniques and abilities were incredible to watch. I admire her for her accomplishments and the way she’s kick started and propelled UFC for women all around the world, opening so many doors that seemed locked and bolted to female athletes.

But one thing always stuck out to me more than her athletic supremacy, or her belts, Rousey’s sportsmanship was some of the worst I’d ever seen in any competitive sport. It shocked me. Did someone so good really need to trash talk her opponents so ruthlessly, and make such a point to show profound disrespect to her fellow athletes – women who were working just as hard to bring respect and a fan base to women’s UFC?

Everyone who attended our Fight Night seemed to love her competitive nature. They said all fighters acted like that to get in the zone and intimidate their opponents. Fighters needed to get psyched and focused, and that was apparently how they did it, but I’ve been an athlete all my life, and never have I found an excuse great enough to disrespect another athlete on that level. Not only does she trash talk more than anybody I’ve ever seen, but Rousey has been known to never touch gloves before a fight, which resembles something of a handshake and is intended to show respect to another fighter. She also often fails to acknowledge her opponents after a fight, even if she’s the winner. And never has Rousey properly congratulated an opponent on a win. She would rather storm out of the ring like a toddler throwing a tantrum than acknowledge that someone else kicked her ass, and did it well.

Rousey is a head case with an extremely unnatural desire to win, and her behavior as an athlete has been continuously disappointing on that level. You’d think that someone getting paid three million dollars to fight for 48 seconds could at least buy a little class. Instead she’s setting a negative example and precedent for athletes to follow. What ever happened to “leaving it all on the field,” or letting your abilities, your training and your heart do the talking, rather than incessantly wasting your time and energy running your mouth like an insecure teenager? Rousey has done great things for women’s UFC, but I’m grateful that she may be seeing her final days in the ring. There are other good fighters out there – better fighters who carry themselves with more maturity and class than Rousey can fathom. The next step for women’s UFC in gaining integrity, legitimacy and respect on a global scale is to showcase those women who are headstrong and worthy of respect.

letters@dailyutahchronicle.com

Photo Courtesy of: Zennie Abraham

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