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18th Nov 2015

OPINION: Reaction to Ronda Rousey loss provides perfect preparation for potential Conor McGregor defeat

The vultures are circling

Ben Kiely

Nature’s first green is gold… but only so an hour.

George St-Pierre, Anderson Silva, Ronda Rousey are three very different fighters who share one commonality. They were all said to be invincible, at the zenith of their powers before suffering a crushing defeat.

The deteriorating nature of the fight business coupled with the small window where each fighter reaches their peak means that losing, for everyone, is inevitable.

If you stay fighting long enough, someone younger, more athletic, more powerful is going to enter into the fray and derail the hype train.

With that head kick landing flush with the force of a tsunami, Holly Holm destroyed a myth. That thunderous strike proved Rousey was indeed a mere mortal, and when she came crashing back down to Earth, the vultures followed to pick her carcass apart.

If and when Conor McGregor loses again, we can expect a similar response.

Undoubtedly, Rousey is the UFC’s biggest star. She single-handedly brought her gender to the world’s biggest MMA promotion, an amazing feat considering Dana White’s infamous soundbite where he declared that there would never be women in the UFC.

She managed to use her success in a niche sport to infiltrate the mainstream landing blockbuster movie roles, endorsements, magazine covers, and even an appearance on Ellen DeGeneres’ behemoth talk show.

That’s the modern day equivalent of Chuck Liddell being interviewed by Oprah Winfrey when he held the light heavyweight belt.

McGregor is also the embodiment of the modern celebrity athlete. His supreme confidence and colourful personality (not to mention his elite-level fighting ability) rejuvenated a somewhat stagnating featherweight division, quickly running out of marquee challengers for Jose Aldo.

He was the superstar the UFC needed to boost the popularity of the 145lb division, and his antics outside the cage allowed him to cross over into the mainstream media, albeit not quite on the same level that Rousey managed.

However, with great fame comes great begrudgery, and the disgusting reaction to Rousey’s first defeat from the merciless internet troll mob provides a perfect blueprint of what to expect when Conor McGregor gets handed his first loss inside the Octagon.

The celebration of Rousey’s failure overshadowed a phenomenal performance from Holm. She had the perfect gameplan and executed it flawlessly to achieve the impossible, and she deserves every accolade for it, but sadly, the focus was not on Holm after the fight.

The haters and bandwagoners were waiting for Rousey’s fall, and when it finally happened, the immediate response was an endless slew of memes, video edits and gags all designed to twist the knife. It escalated to the point where Floyd Mayweather took the moral high ground and condemned the abuse, even after his previous with Rowdy.

For many, the justification for the abuse was Rousey’s gamesmanship leading up to the event, which began at the weigh-ins and ended with her refusal to touch gloves before the fight.

If those relatively small acts of unsportsmanlike behaviour were enough to spark such an extreme reaction from the baying public, imagine what’s in store for McGregor after all his trash-talk, insults, belt-stealing and general antagonising, the first time he doesn’t back up all the talk.