Ronda Rousey did not have much to say before her fight with Amanda Nunes, and since that 48-second loss, she's been mostly mum. However, the former UFC champion broke her social media silence Monday, as she cryptically mused about hitting "rock bottom."
"And so rock bottom became the solid foundation on which I rebuilt my life," Rousey posted, attributing the quote to "Harry Potter" author JK Rowling. The line is part of extensive comments Rowling made while giving Harvard's commencement address in 2008.
In her address, Rowling had two points of emphasis: the "benefits of failure" and the "crucial importance of imagination." Rousey's Instagram followers were left to imagine what, exactly, she was getting at with the post, but it would certainly stand to reason that she might be searching for some benefit in her resounding defeat at the hands of Nunes.
That December 30 showdown for the bantamweight crown Rousey used to wear with such imperious hauteur represented her comeback, over a year in the making, from a devastating defeat. However, it turned into another humiliating setback for the woman who was undefeated in her MMA career until getting knocked out by Holly Holm in November 2015.
At least Rousey lasted into the second round before a roundhouse kick from Holm sent her to the canvas. This time, she ate punch after punch from Nunes until the referee ended things after less than a minute.
"Returning to not just fighting, but winning, was my entire focus this past year," Rousey said in a statement after that loss. "However, sometimes - even when you prepare and give everything you have and want something so badly - it doesn't work how you planned. . . . I need to take some time to reflect and think about the future. Thank you for believing in me and understanding."
There has been speculation that Rousey might never fight again, possibly choosing to pursue a career in Hollywood. However, some saw hope for a return to the Octagon in her Instagram post.
As Damon Martin of Fox Sports pointed out, the line that Rousey quoted came at the end of a passage in which Rowling said, "So why do I talk about the benefits of failure? Simply because failure meant a stripping away of the inessential. I stopped pretending to myself that I was anything other than what I was, and began to direct all my energy into finishing the only work that mattered to me. Had I really succeeded at anything else, I might never have found the determination to succeed in the one arena I believed I truly belonged.
"I was set free, because my greatest fear had been realized, and I was still alive."
In that context, Rousey could be hinting that she is taking this loss in a much more positive way than how she reacted to getting knocked out by Holm. After that defeat, Rousey admitted to having suicidal thoughts, having her psyche shattered and needing months to put herself back together.
But that was a fight that she had entered with the arrogance of an invincible champion, whereas the loss to Nunes may simply have put her back into an earlier mind-set, one of a hungry fighter eager to battle her way back to the top from "rock bottom."
As a practical matter, if Rousey does indeed want to transition to full-time acting (which UFC President Dana White believes is the case), she could stand to win a couple more MMA fights, if only to restore her tattered tough-guy brand. To get those wins, not to mention regain her bantamweight belt, many think Rousey needs to hire a new coach.
But that's getting ahead of things, because first we need to know if Rousey actually does plan to fight again. Monday's post gave MMA fans more questions than answers, but at least it represented a public expression on her part, and it provided hope that she's taking some positives from her latest disaster.