Photo by Brandon Magnus/Zuffa LLC
As soon as Ronda Rousey was on the mat, her many haters were already celebrating her loss. While Holly Holm ran around the ring in victory, Twitter said Rousey had always been just hype. They expressed relief that they could “stop caring” about her. “Oh good,” said Glenn Stout, who edits the annual Best American Sportswriting anthology, “now we don’t have to pay attention to Ronda Rousey anymore.”
But the loss of her undefeated record (and the sheen that came with it) only made her more interesting. And as everyone pours out their end-of-the-year retrospectives, it’s worth remembering: Ronda Rousey was the athlete of the year. Sure, there were far more interesting stories—DraftKings and FanDuel face the legal gauntlet; Serena nearly completes the Grand Slam; Jordan Spieth nearly sweeps the Majors; Warriors start off 24-0. But Rousey, in my book, was the single most compelling individual in any sport this year, male or female.
Losing is only the most recent thing Rousey did, so it’s freshest in our minds. What else did she do this year? Oh, beat two undefeated fighters in a matter of seconds—first Cat Zingano (who was 9-0) in 14 seconds in February, then Bethe Correia (also 9-0) in 34 seconds in August. Outside the ring, Rousey appeared in Furious 7 and the Entourage movie. She graced the covers of Sports Illustrated, Men’s Fitness, Self, and even boxing mag The Ring. (Oscar De La Hoya, who owns the publication, told me, “It was surprisingly controversial. Purists didn’t like it.” He added that Rousey impresses him, fascinates him, and that boxing is “wide open whenever she does want to explore it.” Nonetheless, a commenter on Rousey’s Instagram photo of the cover wrote, “You are not boxer… Holly Holm the real boxer. Joke pose.”)
Of course, being ….View full article