In last week’s column I ended on the note that despite the hype, the praise and the talent, professional athletes are still only human. This week that fact entered the spotlight once more with Ronda Rousey’s admittance to having considered suicide following her Nov. 15 loss to Holly Holm.
Since she entered the UFC circuit in 2010, Rousey was made out to be the tough girl and she was. She still is. In my opinion any person who can step inside the octagon and face potential beat downs, there is no denying their toughness.
Going into the UFC 193 match with Holm, Rousey was the undeniable favorite. She was undefeated having won 12 MMA matches. Between April 2014 and November 2015, she had defended her bantamweight title four times.
With those facts laid out there, it came as a shock to most when Holm defeated her in the second round with a kick to the jaw. I know I was definitely not expecting that outcome.
Following the fight, Rousey was hospitalized and was banned from the octagon for at least six months. The doctors told her that her body wasn’t ready, but on a more serious note, neither was her mind.
Rousey sat down with Ellen DeGeneres for her first interview post fight this past Tuesday, and on the show, she publicly announced that following the loss she contemplated suicide.
“Honestly, my thought in the medical room, I was sitting in the corner and was like, ‘What am I anymore if I’m not this?'” Rousey said. “Literally sitting there thinking about killing myself. In that exact second, I’m like, ‘I’m nothing. What do I do anymore? No one gives a s— about me anymore without this.'”
It was this moment that showed the world that Rousey isn’t the invincible superhuman that UFC has never missed a beat on showcasing. We saw that “Rowdy” just like us has emotions.
Rousey isn’t the first fighter to admit having thoughts of complete despair either. Former welterweight champion Georges St-Pierre walked away in 2013 due to the emotional toll. In December 2015, we saw Jose Aldo collapse emotionally in the locker room following his loss to Conor McGregor.
These “super humans” work day in and day out for months preparing for one fight — one fight that can be over in a matter of minutes, even seconds. Rousey, like many before her, saw everything she had worked for her whole life crumble right in front of her. And to top it off, it crumbled in front of millions who tuned in to watch.
Fighting has been named by many within the sport to be the loneliest sport in the world. There is a reason not everyone can play an individual sport. It takes someone willing to always be “on,” being able to take the blame when things don’t go the right way. There are only two people in the ring: you and the person you are going up against, and when you have an off night, the consequences are huge.
When Rousey admitted her contemplation of suicide, my initial thoughts were who was there to help her and I wonder how many other fighters and athletes out there have had the same reaction following a loss.
Rousey said she plans on getting back in the ring with Holm. The rematch could come as early as fall 2016. But what happens if Rousey fails to come out on top yet again? There is a serious issue at hand here, and I am interested in seeing the steps if any UFC will take to protect their moneymakers.