UFC 205 was supposed to be Ronda Rousey's grand return. It was supposed to be the moment she reclaimed her title. Not just the women's bantamweight title, but her title as MMA's one true mainstream star.
Instead, the big night at Madison Square Garden will be remembered as the crowning glory in Conor McGregor's takeover of the UFC. The Irishman is now the face, fists and mouth of the fight promotion and he's come to embody the UFC because Rousey vacated the space in which McGregor found glory.
It all seemingly started almost exactly one year ago. On Nov. 15, 2015, Rousey stepped into the Octagon to defend her title against Holly Holm. Rousey was 12-0 and beyond untouchable. Her previous four title defences had lasted a total of 132 seconds.
The fight against Holm lasted a whole lot longer and was full of surprises. Not only did Rousey fail to end it quickly, she didn't end it at all. Instead, it was Holm's straight left hand and now-infamous left high-kick that stopped the fight - and Rousey's career - dead in its tracks 57 seconds into the second round.
The loss stunned the world. It was Mike Tyson vs. Buster Douglas, Volume 2. How could Rousey lose? How could Rousey lose like that? What the hell just happened?
Rousey provided no answers after the fight. Instead, she entered a self-imposed media blackout. In the silence, fight fans looked for anything and everything to blame. Fingers were pointed at her controversial coach, her alleged domestic-abusing boyfriend and her high-profile film career.
Rousey's Hollywood life was the easiest target. A month before the Holm fight, she had been cast in the remake of the 1989 cult classic "Road House" where she'd be reprising the role made famous by Patrick Swayze. The movie would be her first big starring role and it came on the back of small roles in the "Entourage" movie, "Furious 7," the latest instalment in the "Fast & Furious" franchise, and "The Expendables 3," where she worked with the likes of Sylvester Stallone, Jason Statham and Kelsey Grammer.
Rousey was busy beyond the big screen as well. Two months after the Holm fight, she hosted "Saturday Night Live," where many athletes' entertainment careers have gone to die. Rousey, however, did surprisingly well on "SNL" and followed that up a month later with an appearance on the cover of the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Edition wearing nothing but body paint.
Finally, after baring her body, she bared her soul in an interview with Ellen DeGeneres, where she revealed that she'd had suicidal thoughts in the immediate aftermath of the Holm debacle.
While she was visibly busy outside the Octagon, news about Rousey's return to fighting was virtually non-existent because for eight months after the appearance on "Ellen," she did not speak with the media. Instead, UFC president Dana White relayed leaked tidbits of information to the press after each conversation he had with his star. First, she was set to fight Holm in a rematch at UFC 200 in July, but then that plan got scrapped because Rousey asked for time off to film "Road House." Then it was revealed that she had undergone arthroscopic knee surgery and a number of other small procedures to fix lingering injuries. At that point, it was hoped that she'd make it back by the end of 2016.
Those rumours blew up when she appeared alongside fellow UFC fighter Chris Weidman as Gov. Andrew Cuomo signed the bill legalising MMA in New York state. As Cuomo put pen to paper, the UFC announced that the first bouts would happen on Nov. 12 at Madison Square Garden. It was all set up for Rousey. A year minus three days from the date she lost to Holm, Rousey would walk back into the Octagon at the biggest UFC event of all time.
Weidman, a local New York boy, fought at UFC 205. Rousey did not. The closest she got to UFC 205 came the night before, when she made a surprise appearance at the fake weigh-ins. The fighters had officially weighed in earlier in the day, but they all appeared again to pose for the cameras. Rousey's stare-down with Amanda Nunes, whom Rousey will fight at UFC 207 on Dec. 30, was supposedly the big surprise at the end of a made-for-the-media moment.
Rousey's appearance, like the rest of her comeback, fell flat. Part of the reason was that the crowd was mostly there to see Conor McGregor, the master of press conferences, and partly because Rousey's revival was dead on arrival. She's already announced her retirement plans. She would rather make money fake-fighting in movies than fighting for real inside a cage.
It is impossible to know when Rousey decided to turn away from MMA, but one thing is clear: It was probably long before the Holm fight ever happened. In 2013 and 2014, she was cast in the movies that have already been released. In 2015, she got "Road House" and the lead role in "Mile 22," an action movie to which Mark Wahlberg and Peter Berg were both attached.
Sadly for Rousey, both of those films fell apart in 2016. "Mile 22" is now on pause after the studio had doubts about her acting abilities, according to the New Yorker, and "Road House" has been pushed back until May at the earliest so that director Nick Cassavettes can write the script.
Rousey had better hope that her movie career doesn't fizzle out like her fighting career has.