And another loss. Ronda Rousey got her ass handed to her.

rousey-fightingThis is a different kind of loss than the Paris attacks. It’s miniscule, compared to what happened in France — or Lebanon , or Syria, or any of the other places on earth where the enormity of human cruelty and misery staggers the mind.

But it’s still a loss.

Ronda Rousey got her ass kicked last night. And Holly Holm handed it to her on a platter. I watched the fight — even paid the 50 bucks and stayed up till after midnight to watch the whole thing.

It was not at all what I was expecting. I’ve been following Ronda Rousey for a relatively short time — mostly over the past 6 months. A buddy of mine on FB is a martial arts instructor, and they have been posting videos of Ronda Rousey fighting for years. But it wasn’t until her victory over Bethe Correia, that I really took notice.

I have to say, the press and media around Ronda has been phenomenal. She’s the kind of lady who’s “relatable”, who’s an amazing athlete and an “everyperson” kind of hero. Working her way up from tough living circumstances, reaching out to fans, being very real with the press. And being ferocious in the ring. I’ve been impressed — the more I have seen her, the moreso.

I wasn’t expecting things to go the way they did last night, with Ronda going down in a knockout in the 2nd round. I don’t think many of us were. But at the end of the first round, I saw her wobbly on her feet and disoriented, and I suspected she was hurt. In her corner, she seemed dazed, almost mentally stung, as though she believed nothing could touch her… and when it did, she wasn’t mentally prepared for it.

Plus, she was hurt. Her brain was hurt by a couple of hard hits right off the bat. And when your brain is injured, there’s not much you can do to overcome it in that moment. Ronda’s a fighter, and she took it to the only conclusion she could — getting knocked out. Because that’s the only thing that would ever stop her from keeping moving towards her target.

I must admit, it’s a strange juxtaposition for me. I know what repeat head trauma can do to a person, and I hate what it does to the lives of everyone affected. Yet I love MMA and boxing. A good match-up, like the one between the two ladies prior to Rousey and Holm, is pretty fascinating for me — getting hit, keeping your head together, and being able to prevail in the long run, is something that I can relate to. Lots of other people can, too. Good fighters are phenomenal to watch, even with all the blood that sometimes comes with MMA and the knowledge of what getting knocked out does to a person — especially if they keep getting knocked out. (I suspected Silva was not going to last against Hall, because he’s been knocked out three times in recent history, and that sort of injury is cumulative. Sure enough, he got knocked out again. It didn’t seem to take much.)

The other thing is that Rousey had three title fights in the past year (I believe), and even if you do get plenty of rest in between, the effects of getting hit hard, repeatedly, are going to be cumulative, so that’s going to work against you. It’s going to work against your brain — which works against your body — which works against your chances of winning… or getting out of the second round in one piece.

Anyway, it was deeply disappointing to see Rousey go down like that. In the midst of it all, it became clear to me that Holm was the better prepared athlete, the better conditioned one, perhaps even the better of the two, overall. It’s a credit to Rousey that it took someone like Holm to take her down, but I was expecting Rousey to be more aggressive and put up more of a fight. But she got hit a few times early on, and to me, that was the beginning of the end.

In the end, I hope Ronda gets some good rest and takes care of her brain. At the end, when she got hit (and Holly kept pounding her head, even after she was knocked out on the ground), I could have sworn I saw a “fencing response” when Ronda was on her back and Holly was beating at her head.

According the The Concussion Blog

The fencing response is an unnatural position of the arms following a concussion. Immediately after moderate forces have been applied to the brainstem, the forearms are held flexed or extended (typically into the air) for a period lasting up to several seconds after the impact. The Fencing Response is often observed during athletic competition involving contact, such as football, hockey, rugby, boxing and martial arts. It is used as an overt indicator of injury force magnitude and midbrain localization to aid in injury identification and classification for events including, but not limited to, on-field and/or bystander observations of sports-related head injuries.

It looked like Ronda was holding her arms up to defend herself, but I think it was that kick to her neck that caused her arms to raise. Unfortunately, everybody seemed to think it meant the former, so Holly took it as an indication that she needed to finish her opponent — when her opponent was already more than done.

Ideally, it would be great to educate MMA folks about this, so the same thing doesn’t keep happening. Arms raised, while you’re clearly not conscious does not mean you pose a threat. It means your brainstem has been injured, and you’re unable to properly defend yourself.

In a perfect world, the refs would keep an eye out for this and be more aggressive about stopping fighters. When Rousey went down from the kick and her arms went up, that should have settled it for both the fighters.

But when your arms go up, it can signal that you’re still fighting… so your opponent continues to wale on you, long past the point where you’re defenseless. And that’s the thing that concerns me the most – that Holm beat on Rousey past the point where Ronda could defend herself… and now the UFC folks are pressing for an immediate rematch. I hope Ronda tells them to go f*ck themselves. She needs to rest up and give her brain and brainstem a much-needed healing. She’s got enough money that she can afford some pretty advanced treatments, so she should take advantage of that.

And rest.

Anyway, for now, that’s a loss. I hope Rousey and her team are smart about what comes next. She absorbed enough head trauma in that fight to last her for a good, long time. Maybe for all time. She has a lot of light in her, and she has helped a lot of people by her example. It would be a shame to see that light go out, because she doesn’t know when to tap out for good.

I wish her all the best. At this point, I think her split lip is the least of her worries.

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