LAS VEGAS – Ronda Rousey was once again pummeled by a striker and lost her second consecutive bout.
The former women’s bantamweight champion was completely outclassed in the striking game by Amanda Nunes, who stopped Rousey at 48 seconds of the first round to retain her women’s bantamweight championship in the main event of UFC 207 at T-Mobile Arena.
Nunes landed a big right just seconds into the fight that clearly hurt Rousey, who was fighting for the first time since a stunning defeat at the hands of Holly Holm on Nov. 14, 2015.
Rousey tried to throw punches with Nunes, but she had nothing to offer. Nunes was blistering her with combinations, hitting her with virtually everything she threw.
“This is amazing,” Nunes said in exultation.
Nunes landed 23 of 35 strikes she threw, all of which were powerful shots. She backed Rousey up from the very first seconds of the bout and simply overwhelmed her.
“She thinks she’s a boxer,” Nunes said of Rousey. “He [Edmond Tarverdyan] put that in her head and he has her believing that. I don’t know why he did that. She has great judo. She could go further in this division, but he put some crazy thing about boxing [in her head] and then her career started going down. I’m the real striker here.”
The loss leaves Rousey’s future in serious question. Her return attracted a standing-room-only crowd of more than 19,000 and pay-per-view sales are expected to exceed 1 million.
She was guaranteed $3 million to show, and will make millions more than that.
But Rousey, who had a media blackout and didn’t speak much at all in the fight’s buildup, may no longer fight. She had frequently said that she would judge when to quit by the damage she has taken.
Her judo made her the sport’s biggest sensation and one of the top stars, as she was able to win her first 12 fights primarily with a seemingly unstoppable arm bar.
Rousey hit hard, but her striking defense was never great and so she had problems when facing elite strikers like Nunes and Holm.
If the loss prompts Rousey to retire, as expected, it will be the end of an incredible run. UFC president Dana White had famously said he would never allow women to fight in the UFC, but after seeing Rousey, he changed his mind.
She sold out arenas all over the world and sold pay-per-views at an astonishingly high rate.
She won her first six UFC fights and it looked like no one could compete with her.
But Holm, a former world boxing champion, showed the blueprint last year at UFC 193. Holm moved smartly and countered Rousey before ending the fight with a kick to the head.
On Friday, it wasn’t so subtle. Nunes was eager to trade with Rousey, whose head never moved off the center line as she was getting blasted by hard shots.
Nunes was in the middle of a multi-punch combination when referee Herb Dean stepped in to save Rousey from further punishment.