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Mike Dolce: Ronda Rousey ‘puts more pressure on herself’ than anyone I’ve worked with

UFC 207 Weigh-ins
Ronda Rousey, flanked by coaches Edmond Tarverdyan (center) and Mike Dolce (left), at the UFC 207 ceremonial weigh-ins.
Esther Lin, MMA Fighting

Mike Dolce has worked with some of the best known — and most decorated — fighters in MMA history as a noted nutrition coach. None, though, are quite like Ronda Rousey in the respect of putting pressure on himself or herself to emerge victorious in the cage, Dolce said.

“I can say externally, she does put a lot of pressure on herself to win, like most great athletes do in every sport,” Dolce told Ariel Helwani on Monday’s edition of The MMA Hour. “Ronda, I believe, of all the athletes I’ve worked with, and I’ve worked with the greats — ‘Rampage Jackson,’ Randy Couture, Vitor Belfort, I’ve worked with some of the best ever — Ronda puts more pressure on herself than any of those athletes. She does have this unique desire to win, not just for herself, but to win for everyone who supported her, but also to spite those who have hoped against her.”

Rousey fell in her second straight bout Friday night at UFC 207, getting knocked out by Amanda Nunes in just 48 seconds. The former UFC women’s bantamweight champion failed in her effort to regain the title from Nunes. Rousey lost that belt to Holly Holm, via second-round knockout, at UFC 193 in November 2015.

All of a sudden, the most dominant champ in UFC history is on a losing skid with many people expecting her to never fight again. Rousey also took a decent amount of damage in both defeats. It’s a far cry from the days when people talked about not if she would win, but how quickly.

After Rousey’s loss to Holm, she said on “Ellen” that she had suicidal thoughts immediately afterward. That isn’t the case now, Dolce said.

“I’ve been with athletes — and I don’t want to name names — that just destroy locker rooms, as you’re probably aware, they destroy hotel rooms, they become extremely despondent and belligerent to the people closest to them,” Dolce said. “Ronda doesn’t do any of that. So I think it’s just different. Each athlete is different. Their internal drive is different. Their external representation of what’s happening inside is different. Ronda becomes rather quiet and standoffish. She needs her space, which is very important. Some athletes, they act out in a more aggressive manner.”

Dolce, who has worked with Rousey for years, believed her to be well-prepared for the Nunes fight — and in better shape than she has been for bouts in the past. Dolce said Rousey was already in the mid-140s two months before she had to weigh-in at 135 pounds last week. That’s normally a good sign.

The coach, though, could not factor in Rousey putting more pressure on herself than most others do. Might that have played a factor in both losses? It’s hard to say scientifically. All Dolce knows now, after keeping in close contact with her team, is that Rousey seems to be doing OK now. Her post-fight demeanor is not as sullen as it was following the Holm knockout.

“It’s status quo,” Dolce said. “It’s no different than the loss of any other high-level athletes. I think some of the media portrayal is a little distorted from the reality of what any athlete goes through at such a high level.

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