Returning at UFC 207, former women’s bantamweight champion Ronda Rousey is putting a lot on the line. Against the much larger Amanda Nunes, ‘Rowdy’ faces a ton of interesting challenges, but perhaps the most poignant will be the battle going on in her own mind. We haven’t seen Rousey compete in the UFC octagon since November of last year, one year ago almost to the day. Taking on former boxing champion Holly Holm at UFC 193, the dominant queen of the 135-pounders was expected to take home a straight forward win.

As is often the case, MMA does not transpire along the format of the betting odds, and ‘The Preacher’s Daughter’ provided the upset of the century. Blasting Rousey with her crisp striking, evading the confused champ’s attacks and grappling attempts, Holm finally put her foe down in the second frame. With her belt yanked away and her invincible aura shattered, Rousey went in to a dark place, and wouldn’t emerge for some time.

Ronda Rousey-Amanda Nunes

Nunes vs. Rousey

Now set for a historic chance to become the first two-time women’s bantamweight champion, Rousey returns to a high pressure, high risk and potentially high reward scenario. In typical fashion of the brash ex-champ, she emerged at the UFC 205 weigh-ins for a staredown with her December 30 opponent Nunes, only to storm off the stage before the photo opportunity.

As we’ve come to expect from ‘Rowdy,’ all eyes are on her and the stakes are extremely high. For these following reasons, we feel Ronda Rousey would’ve been better off staying retired… 

Ronda Rousey vs Holly Holm

Health

There’s absolutely no denying the impact of Holly Holm’s shin on Ronda Rousey’s brain, and not just on the night of UFC 193. A knockout that brutal, heavy and concussive takes months, sometimes longer to get over. This isn’t to say ‘Rowdy’ has not had enough time, but simply that going back to the arena of combat could lead to further complications, should she receive another KO blow.

Also, it wasn’t just one single strike, Holm’s win was a culmination of precise and painful punches throughout their bout. Coming back against another dangerous striker in Nunes could prove to be ill-advised.

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Legacy Risk

Although this may not be the most pertinent point on the list, it’s still well worth debating. Ronda Rousey’s career as champion was like few others–she literally creamed the division for years, and set tons of records that will stay in play for a long time, some probably forever. Why risk her already legendary legacy for what could well be her last fight, regardless of the result?

Obviously the benefit would be gargantuan too, with the chance of setting more records, and possibly putting together a super fight with Cris Cyborg too. Weighing it up, though, this writer feels the risk-reward balance hangs slightly to the left.

UFC 193: Rousey v Holm

Absence

‘Cage rust’ is real, especially if you haven’t spent the entire time off training hard and working to get better. This isn’t to bash Rousey, but she went in to her own mind after losing to Holm, even stating she’d considered suicide. Along side the images of her weight gain, understandable and normal as that is, this combination is not congruent with an athlete who has been keeping trim and focused.

Although she looks a lot better in her most recent training footage, I can’t help but see that rust being a huge factor against the much more recently active Nunes.

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Bad Times

After seeing ow Ronda Rousey reacted to her first pro loss, there should be serious concern about another one. Depression is real, and if Ronda loses again and falls in to that sorrowful pit, who knows if she’ll ever re-emerge from it. There was a period of over six months where ‘Rowdy’ refused to even talk to the media about fighting. Troubled, yes, weak? Well, maybe no, if anything this just shows how passionate she was about the title.

Perhaps a tune up fight would have been a better idea, as mounting this much pressure on herself could prove to be a defining factor in Rousey’s performance too.

Ronda Rouseyn

Styles

Styles make fights, and unfortunately for Ronda Rousey, I feel Amanda Nunes has her kryptonite. After seeing how Holly Holm diffused Rousey’s grappling game, it seems obvious that ‘The Lioness’ will emulate those tactics on December 30. I think UFC 207 will show that once a fighter’s puzzle has been solved, it’s very hard to rekindle that unbeatable form.

Nunes is big, strong, a powerful striker and a black belt in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu. This combination of skills, being a naturally larger fighter, being more active, probably having a mental edge, and the existing troubles in Ronda’s recent past all play a big role.