Saturday, December 31, 2016

Anatomy of a fall

This is how they happen sometimes, these tumbles from the mountaintop. One moment you are invincible and famous and the baddest man or woman on the planet; the next, you are as vulnerable as everyone around you -- and perhaps more because of that lost aura of invulnerability.

Ronda Rousey's went away with one roundhouse kick to the head from Holly Holm13 months ago,  and it did not magically reappear last night. This time it was reigning champion Amanda Nunes who took Rousey out, battering her into a TKO in just 48 seconds.

The comeback fight was never a fight. It was an execution, and if onlookers were shocked at how helpless Rousey looked, they missed the essential lesson: That an aura of invincibility, once gone, is gone for good. In its place, stripped of the armor that aura provides, is not just another fighter, but no fighter at all.

She looked like someone who didn't want to be in the octagon anymore. Who didn't, in fact, want to be within a thousand miles of it.

In retrospect maybe that shouldn't have been so shocking, given the way Rousey, once the most media-savvy personality in mixed martial arts, shunned the media in the runup to the fight. She skipped all the pre-fight availability, saying she wanted to focus only on the bout. In an odd way, maybe that was a clue that her heart wasn't in this. Why else would she regard a few sitdowns with the media as a distraction otherwise?

She wanted to focus on the fight because she knew, maybe, that there wasn't enough fight in her anymore to waste a second's focus on anything else. It's as good, or as bad, a theory as any.

So that does that mean she's done?

Hard to say. If she can regain the hunger that made her who she was, probably not. If she can't ...

Well. Pretty easy to finish that sentence.

No comments:

Post a Comment