Women’s MMA pioneer Ronda Rousey hasn’t been involved with the sport for the good part of seven years now. But with the recent retirement of Amanda Nunes and the void she left in the women’s bantamweight title landscape, there’s apparently been conversations about her possible UFC return. Should the 36-year-old Rousey decide to once again strap on a pair of four-ounce gloves, UFC commentator Jon Anik says now would be the best time.
In a recent interview with MMA Fighting, Anik was asked about the possibility of a Ronda Rousey comeback, also given Endeavor’s recent acquisition of the WWE where the former women’s champ is currently signed. For Anik, the star’s are basically aligned for Rousey’s return.
“If anyone is worthy of that time of opportunity, it’s probably Ronda Rousey. And I do believe she would be competitive because she would not enter that setting without the guarantee that she would be competitive.
“If ever there was a time, you’re right. It would be absolutely now, and I’m not gonna sit here and suggest she’d be a betting favorite against Julianna Peña or Raquel Pennington, but I can understand why people would be excited at the possibility, but in a true meritocracy, I do think that’s a little bit of a tough sell.”
Anik, however, isn’t on board with the idea of giving Ronda Rousey an instant crack at the now vacant title.
“In a true meritocracy, that’s just not gonna sit well with me, nor that athletes that have been donating blood, sweat, and tears to mixed martial arts over the last several years.
“I didn’t like that Henry Cejudo came back and cut the line of a bunch of 35ers that have been active. So it would be hypocritical of me to sit here and say, ‘Absolutely, let’s elevate Ronda Rousey and have her return.’”
Despite Ronda Rousey’s name value, Anik isn’t sold on having her jump the line given what he thinks are a handful of choices for title contenders.
“Even though we can’t settle on two obvious bantamweight contenders right now, it’s not as though there aren’t worthy title challengers,” he said. “There are four or five women who I think are deserving right now. Unfortunately, one of them is not Ronda Rousey, but we’ll see.”
Rousey made a strong impression on the onset of her professional career, winning fight after fight with her patented armbar submission. Those performances even changed UFC president Dana White’s mind, who once famously opposed having women in the organization. Ronda Rousey carried that momentum in the UFC, finishing all of her challengers inside one round, save for former rival Miesha Tate. But that all ended in one fell swoop when she was knocked out by Holly Holm at UFC 193 in late 2015.
After a brief hiatus, “Rowdy” Ronda attempted to reclaim the title against then-champion Amanda Nunes at UFC 207 a year later. Rousey was knocked out inside 48 seconds. Speculations about a possible return began floating around in 2017 when Ronda Rousey began working with strength and nutrition trainer Dan Garner. But as she told Ellen in a 2018 interview, the chances of an MMA comeback are slim to none.
“I don’t know,” said Rousey. “I think it’s just as likely as me going back to another Olympics for judo.
“No one demanded a written resignation from me for judo and I don’t really think the same thing is necessary for fighting. I’m just doing what I enjoy and WWE is what I enjoy right now.”