There was a time not all that long ago when former UFC women’s bantamweight champion Ronda Rousey was considered not only the best female mixed martial artist on the planet, but one of the best fighters alive outright. Unfortunately, her legendary reign crumbled rather abruptly when she was stopped in back-to-back fights with Holly Holm and Amanda Nunes.
Today, Ronda Rousey is enjoying tremendous success as a pro wrestler in WWE. Unfortunately, many MMA fans are still critical of the former UFC champion for the way she handled the two losses that ended her time in the UFC.
Chael Sonnen believes he knows why this is the case.
The three-time UFC title challenger and current Bellator star gave a long-winded breakdown of the career of Ronda Rousey on his Beyond the Fight podcast.
“The part where many fans would get irritated is she just wouldn’t go quite far enough [when discussing her losses],” Chael Sonnen said of Ronda Rousey. “The fans wanted it very clear, that Ronda was never a great fighter, that she was never the best in the world, she was a flash in the pan in a division that was forming. She was taking out girls that were called number-one contenders that never had to prove it because it was too new. As soon as people started to settle into the division, and as soon as we started to see who the top fighters were, put them opposite Ronda, they ran through her. For some reason the fans want that said by Ronda.”
In Sonnen’s eyes, this isn’t exactly fair. He acknowledges that the UFC and media might have overblown the dominance of Ronda Rousey, but assures this was not her fault. She took on all comers and defeated most of them in decisive fashion.
“I think that is asking a little bit too much,” he said. “Ronda never did anything wrong. Ronda took the fights that Ronda was asked to take without turning them down. There is a bit of a rewrite of history that Ronda turned down [Cris] Cyborg. That absolutely never happened. Ronda said ‘yes’ to Cyborg repeatedly, [she] just said, ‘you gotta come to my weight class.’
“Ronda never ducked anybody,” he continued. “She went in there and did the heavy lifting. But she was caught up in it as much as the media, as much as the promotion and all of the fans were in that she really didn’t know. All she knows is the reality, that she walks out there and girls can’t make it through the first round. Most couldn’t make it through the first minute. Some of them were very lucky to get two digits in second-form before their arm was caught in something. So what did Ronda know? She wasn’t wrong to believe she was the best in the world. They said she was. She fought in a world title fight and left with the belt, got her hand raised.”
All that being said, Sonnen does understand why some fans have a negative outlook on the reign of Ronda Rousey.
“The other side of it was yeah, she wasn’t a fighter,” he said. “She understood aggression. She understood to punch and kick and stretch and strangle aggressively something what wasn’t punching, kicking, stretching you back. When she dealt with that, now she’s in a fight. Big difference. Aggression versus a fighter. It’s a big difference.”
Whatever the case, Chael Sonnen seems to admire the way the former UFC champ Ronda Rousey has transitioned so seamlessly into the pro wrestling arena.
“Ronda is somebody who made it,” he said. “She found something else. She built her star up, bright and shiny enough to transition into something else.”
What do you think of Chael Sonnen’s comments on Ronda Rousey?
This article first appeared on BJPENN.COM on 11/21/2018.