On Sports and Schadenfreude
"Everyone loves an underdog", they say. "Everyone loves a winner", they say. And usually, everyone loves the winner until they're no longer the winner, at which point they never were the winner. It's a strange phenomena seen in just about every sport. Holly Holm's stunning defeat of Ronda Rousey at UFC 193 is one of the bigger examples in recent history.
Ronda Rousey, the most dominant female combat sports athlete in the world, has transcended UFC and MMA. She's become an international superstar, being in hit movies, constantly on television, on magazine covers, and commercials for everything from energy drinks to clothing to video games. Through her fighting style, dominance, and physical appearance, she put women's MMA on the map for the mainstream audience and quickly became the biggest star in the UFC. Ronda was on top of the world. Hard to avoid seeing her or hearing someone talking about her. She became the winner that everyone loved, yet in the run up to UFC 193, she had suddenly turned into the winner everyone hates.
MMA has a long tradition of using pro-wrestling style builds for their fights. Often the same one each month. And every month, MMA fans buy into the hype, and still believe the hype next month after fighters hug after a fight and say they were just trying to make money. No matter how many times they're told the hype is just to get PPV buys, MMA fans will believe the new hype the next month. So heading into UFC 193, Ronda Rousey did the traditional MMA trash talk in interviews and on social media. Nothing new at all. It's generally celebrated, especially by fighters such as the Diaz Brothers. This time, however, fans treated the trash talk differently. Ronda's talk proved her to be "immature", "petulant", "childish", and "a bitch". This all despite her saying the same type of things she says before any fight. MMA fans were again tricked into believing 100% whatever is said from either fighter or the UFC hype team, because the idea that MMA is worked in any aspect is anathema to all but long time fight fans.
The fight happens and Ronda is completely demolished. Outclassed in every aspect of the game. She came in with a poor game plan and paid the price. Ronda was respectful to the new champ, Holly Holms after the fight, then immediately went to the hospital. The internet exploded with joy. This "bitch" got what she "deserved". This "cunt" is a terrible person who is now being served humble pie. So strong was the reaction that even celebrities like Lady Gaga and presidential candidate Donald Trump got their licks in. Within minutes, the internet was flooded with memes. People genuinely happy that this woman was destroyed and hospitalized.
To be the best, you have to believe you are the best. You can't go into an event thinking you might lose. People feel that Ronda's ego got out of control (all based on fight hype, which is never truthful), but without that ego, she never could have BECOME Ronda Rousey. Michael Jordan could not have been Michael Jordan without thinking and knowing he was the best in the world. A top athlete in any sport must possess that all encompassing thought that they are unbeatable. That's the only way you can become that top athlete. People online are already writing off Ronda Rousey's entire career, saying she fought cans and was overhyped. And maybe that has some truth to it. But these people are lacking perspective. Ronda Rousey's role in MMA is being the Royce Gracie of women's MMA. She is and will be the most influential and important figure for women's MMA for generations to come. She could retire tomorrow. Or come back and lose the next four fights. Or come back and be just as dominant. Her legacy is already defined.
Perhaps we should be cheering on Holly Holms for her masterful performance instead of jumping to see how hot of a zinger and meme you can post about Ronda's loss and personal life. Holly Holms destroyed the myth and the person of Ronda Rousey with perfect technique and a great game plan. Instead of the focus being on her for winning, the focus is on Ronda for losing. Congratulations to Holly Holms for becoming the UFC Bantamweight Champion. Hopefully the world doesn't come to joyous rapture when you eventually lose the title.