Perhaps the only thing more shocking than seeing Ronda Rousey laid out by Holly Holm at UFC 193 was seeing how she reacted to defeat. Covering her face as she passed through LAX on the way home, Rousey disappeared from public view for weeks. When ESPN was granted access for a special feature, it revealed a devastated woman coming to grips with the feeling of letting everyone down.
Things weren’t just a mess for Ronda mentally. At the time of the interview, Ronda still had stitches in her lip and admitted that she “may not be able to eat an apple in six months, let alone fight.” One person that agrees with her in this assessment is her nutrition coach, Mike Dolce. Here he is telling MMA Junkie Radio what he thought of the UFC’s plan for a UFC 200 rematch in July:
“No way – absolutely not. Personally, it makes absolutely no sense for any athlete who is TKOd. … They need a minimum – a minimum – of three months no contact. And then they need another three-month period of light contact just getting back into the gym again. That puts us at six months, which is May (2016). And then you get into more intense training. That’s even before training camp kicks in.”
“I hear the quotes, and they’re running a business, so that’s right for the business, for sure,” he said. “Ronda will probably get paid more money if she fights on UFC 200 as opposed to UFC 204 or 206 or whatever happens because that will be the bigger event, the biggest, most stacked card, and she’ll get the pay-per-view points as a result of that.
“But this isn’t about money. From our perspective, it’s about the health and safety of the athlete.”
Speaking as someone who has covered the sport of MMA since 2006, all I can volunteer is the fact that tons of fighters have taken the same sort of damage, if not worse, and come back sooner than the eight months Rousey would have. I’m not saying it was the right or wrong thing for these men and women to do … but a lot of them did it, and no one made a huge deal about the timing when they did.
That being said, injury layoffs like this are obviously on a case by case basis. Only Ronda and her team know exactly how hurt she was by that kick to the head, whether she suffered a concussion or had her jaw seriously damaged. That one comment about the apple sounded bad, and it is definitely worth asking whether the UFC is trying to push Rousey back sooner than they should to bolster their marquee UFC 200 card.
So what will it be? Will Ronda recoup and return to the cage by July, or will she listen to those around her who worry it is too soon? The UFC already has the Rousey vs Holm rematch penciled in for UFC 200, so you know which way they’re leaning. It’s going to be up to Ronda Rousey to put her foot down and call off the fight if she doesn’t think she can make it.