By now, I’m sure you’ve heard about Ronda Rousey’s shocking loss to Holly Holm on Saturday at UFC 193 in Melbourne, Australia. With a shattering kick taken to the neck during the second round, Rousey went down–hard. And all the invincibility and media darling-ness that seemed to surround her name went down with her.
And just like that, any and everyone was clowning her online. Which is what people do in this Internet age, especially following knockouts in boxing and MMA matches. But the criticism I found most interesting came from persons who were stating that the knockout was what Rousey deserved for being too cocky.
“That cockiness got that a** beat! Lmao”
“Thats what that a** gets. She’s taking some time off to eat some humble pie.”
“Girl got a big head she needed humbling.”
And I can somewhat understand why people would feel this way. There’s the fact that during those undefeated days, Rousey took courage to the next level by calling out Floyd Mayweather (and his alleged illiteracy), saying she could beat him in a no-rules street brawl: “I think I actually make 2 to 3 times more than he does per second…so when he learns to read and write, he can text me.” And even before the fight with Holm, Rousey made it clear that she didn’t like her and was hoping to leave Holm face down on the mat with this cold-blooded Instagram message.
“Fake a** cheap shotting fake respect fake humility b***h – ‘preacher’s daughter’ my a** – I see through your fake sweet act now – you’re getting your a** kicked tomorrow, and I’m really going to enjoy the beating I give you #andSTILL”
And even before the match started, Holm raised her gloves to bump them against Rousey’s, but Rousey, with a scowl, immediately backed away and went to her side of the ring.
People, including Lady Gaga for some reason, would say that Rousey was being a big old jerk leading up to her knockout, but I would say that she was just extremely cocky–like a lot of other boxers and fighters and wrestlers and athletes in general are. The only difference is that she’s a woman. She’s expected to be humble. Be quiet. Be grateful. Be like Serena. Be like Danica. Be like Mia [Hamm] and all the many women athletes who are humble winners. Be a lady…and s**t.
Calm down. I’m not saying that everyone is knowingly kicking Rousey while she’s down because she’s a woman who some felt, in her own way, didn’t stay in her place. But I think all the disgust with her being cocky comes from the fact that we’re just not used to seeing women boldly and proudly behaving like men when it comes to having confidence in oneself in their respective sports. But all the great fighters have done it.
That’s why folks loved (but pretended to hate) Muhammad Ali, Mayweather, Jack Johnson, MMA fighter Anderson Silva and many more. They all mocked their opponents before fights, during, and even after, and just like Rousey, they had reasons to. Same with Kobe Bryant, Deion Sanders, Michael Jordan, Larry Bird, Randy Moss, Reggie Miller, etc. They were extraordinarily skilled individuals at the top of their sports with immaculate records and titles. Rousey just happens to be one of the few women who isn’t afraid to, as Jay Z would say, “talk your sh*t!”
It’s easy to be meek and quiet when you’re still looking for that that shot, but who’s to say how Holm will act a year from now if she continues kicking people to sleep, winning matches and has to wear that target on her back? She might start feeling herself, too.
At the end of the day, I think we forget that in most cases, arrogance, cockiness, swagger in sports, is for show. A lot of the people folks criticize for being “too” confident in themselves as if they’re terrible people, do a lot of good for others through charitable work and stand for great things. Including Rousey, who is an advocate for taking the stigma out of mental illness, has an after-school program for kids called the Gompers Judo program, and raises money for the hungry through her Free Rice program. Not to mention that she’s also been an advocate for women and positive body image, something that the same people who are going in on her now for being cocky were applauding her (and her I’m-not-a-do-nothing-b***h mantra) for right after she beat Bethe Correia.
And there’s something to be said about being brave enough to be confident in yourself when other people say you should be quiet. According to Oscar de la Hoya, while speaking on Mayweather, “Boxers should speak with their fists and with their hearts. They don’t have to say anything to prove themselves.”
Sure. But it’s often the humble folks we deem “boring,” and the cocky athletes whose careers are remembered. They’re the ones who have the most success. And while their antics often drive you crazy, you can’t deny their talents (because you know they could be you too, dear detractor).
Like many of the greats, Rousey talked sh*t and most of the time, she backed it up. And like confident people, she took a risk. She wasn’t afraid to fight a trained boxer. And also like most confident people, she had to lose at some point. Most have, and when they did, the world didn’t stop turning. So instead of humbling herself, maybe her loss to Holm will provide the slight humbling that people claim they want to see from Rousey.
Or who knows? She could come back stronger, scarier, and better than ever. And, damn the haters, louder than ever.