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UFC 193 Aftermath: On Ronda Rousey, hubris, and potential redemption

"Beautiful work."

Those were coach Edmond Tarverdyan's words to Ronda Rousey in between the first and second rounds of Rousey's UFC women's bantamweight title defense against Holly Holm at UFC 193.

Two minutes later, Rousey was out cold on the mat at Melbourne's Etihad Stadium, a UFC record crowd of 56,214 serving witness to the fact Holm was the one doing beautiful work.

Tarverdyan's words, uttered just before Rousey's reign came to a crashing halt, may as well serve as the coda to an entire fight camp which seemed doomed from the get-go.

The first hints at cracks in Rousey's aura of invincibility came a few weeks before the fight, when Rousey's mother, Dr. Ann Maria DeMars, lashed out, saying among other things "Edmond is a terrible coach" who "hit the lottery when Ronda walked in there."

Back then, DeMars seemed like an overbearing soccer mom. Today, she sounds like an oracle.

There was the news of Tarverdyan's bankruptcy case, in which he claimed zero income during the period Rousey rocketed to superstardom.

There was Rousey disconnecting a conference call after a reporter asked her a valid question she didn't like about her relationship with Travis Browne, which Rousey later claimed was due to her phone dying.

There were signs of hubris at every turn. Talking about doing boxing and pro wrestling. Condescending to Holm and telling her she's doing Holm a favor because she'll be able to go buy a house with the money she made for showing up and losing. Going on Jimmy Fallon's show and dismissively discussing how Holm would try to win with a head kick. Confident talk when you back it up; something else entirely when things go as they did in Australia.

The final clue was Rousey's lack of composure during Friday's weigh-ins, which Twitter know-it-alls called a staged attempt to sell a few more pay-per-views but which now looks more like a desperate attempt at finding a way to get into the zone.

It's worth remembering in this moment just what a positive Rousey's ascension has been for the sport of mixed martial arts. She helped lift the UFC out of its doldrums after the 1-2 punch of losing Georges St-Pierre and Anderson Silva in a matter of weeks. In the span of three years, the UFC went from no women on the roster to a company-record turnout for a pair of women's title fights. Along the way, Rousey became mainstream like no MMA fighter before her and served as inspiration for the empowerment an entire generation of young girls.

None of that changes just because Rousey lost a fight.

But with the always-20/20 vision of hindsight, it's just as clear something went off the rails in the weeks since Rousey's UFC 190 victory over Bethe Correia. From the outside, it appears hubris and complacency set in where there was once motivation and desire. It appears no one wanted to burst Rousey's bubble, from her head coach on down. That Rousey seemed to believe she could actually make a boxing match out of a meeting with a three-time former world champion with nearly four times as many professional combat sports fights under her belt underscores just how amiss things went at Camp Rousey.

Rousey's far from the first superstar in sports or entertainment to tumble at the height of their powers. Will the notoriously stubborn Rousey double down on her approach? Or will she have the clarity to make a fresh start? The answers to those questions will determine whether Rousey moves on to her redemption tale, the only story Americans love more from celebrities than kicking them when they're down.

UFC 193 quotes

"With a champion like Ronda who has gone out of her way - above and beyond - to do great things, absolutely, she deserves a rematch. I don't look at this belt and think I've made it. I think I still have things that I need to do." -- Holly Holm

"The rematch makes a lot of sense. I think the rematch is what people would want to see." -- UFC president Dana White

"Who's next? I don't know. Probably my hand is broken again. I must go to the hospital, but we will see. Probably I will need to take a few more months off." -- UFC strawweight champ Joanna Jedrzejczyk

"Honestly, f--- Ronda Rousey." -- Miesha Tatenot exactly hiding her feelings about her rival.

Stock report

Stock up: Holly Holm. The downside to focusing so much on what Rousey did wrong: It detracts from everything Holm did so, so right. The knock on Holm going into the fight was that she seemed to be well on her way to becoming a legitimate contender, but hadn't put all the tools together in her transition from boxing. But she rose to the challenge in the most spectacular way imaginable during the biggest moment of her combat sports career. Holm used Rousey's energy against her, established she was the better boxer from the outset, and slowly dismantled Rousey's confidence. By the time she successfully parried Rousey's attempted throws -- and even voluntarily took the fight to the ground -- the battle was mentally won. Take a bow, Holly Holm. And you too, Greg Jackson and Mike Winkeljohn.

Stock down: Edmond Tarverdyan. We're not going to touch Dr. DeMars' comments on Tarverdyan as a person, but her comments on the Glendale Fighting Club leader as a coach sure seem to carry weight the day after UFC 193. His main claim to fame before Rousey showed up in Glendale was Manny Gamburyan. Others who have ventured to his gym, from Travis Browne to Jake Ellenberger, haven't exactly thrived. Rousey seemed woefully ill-prepared for Holm at UFC 193. A picture is being painted here.

Hold: Joanna Jedrzejczyk. The level of hype directed at the UFC strawweight champion this week came within shouting distance of the "Renan Barao is the best pound-for-pound fighter in the world" talk leading up to his loss to T.J. Dillashaw. Instead, what we saw was Joanna Champion taking a patient, clinical approach against a clearly game opponent in Valerie Letourneau, and apparently doing so while injured. The 115-pound champion is coming along just fine at her own pace, so there's no need to try to make Jedrzejczyk into something she's not.

Stock down: Stefan Struve. At this point, it's hard to figure out what exactly is up with Struve. He's been through health issues. He's changed camps. He's tried new approaches. And yet he just seems clinically incapable of taking advantage of what should be some of the greatest natural assets a fighter's ever been given in his ridiculous size and reach advantage. Jared Rosholt might not be an exciting fighter, but he fearlessly waded in, took Struve down, and kept him there, easily capitalizing on what seemed his only path to victory. Struve's still young at 27, but there are a lot of miles on him, and you wonder if he's ever going to turn it around.

Stock up: Mark Hunt. The Super Samoan keeps on going and going. At age 41, with his last big run at a title in his rear-view mirror, it would have been easy to Hunt to mail it in and just collect a few paychecks on his way out. Instead, he slimmed down and looked like a killer in his rematch with Antonio "Bigfoot" Silva. If Hunt wants to compete in fun fights from here on out, that's fine with us. Hunt-o can do whatever he damn well pleases.

Interesting calls

No bad judging decisions. No television glitches. No madness in the commentary booth. No terrible referee calls. Just a questionable decision to call timeout during Robert Whittaker vs. Uriah Hall for an eye poke that wasn't, which fortunately didn't have an effect on Whittaker's just victory. Considering how many things could have gone wrong in front of a record crowd, we'll give a mulligan on that one and call the evening a win.

Fight I'd like to see next: Holly Holm vs. Ronda Rousey 2

All the elements came together at UFC 100 to make it the biggest event in company history. Brock Lesnar at his peak popularity; a big grudge rematch with Frank Mir, who knows how to sell a fight; GSP playing the co-headliner role for the last time in his career. And they're in place for UFC 200, too, with Rousey, after time off to get her head together, going for revenge in the first UFC event at the new Las Vegas arena. Assuming that Rousey, like Gina Carano before her, doesn't bolt for Hollywood full-time after her first loss, then this is a fight that simply has to be made.

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