BY GREG BEACHAM
LAS VEGAS (AP) — Ronda Rousey is taking time off to ponder her future after her 48-second loss in her comeback fight at UFC 207.
Amanda Nunes thinks Rousey must retire.
Jon Jones believes Rousey should fight again.
The UFC’s biggest names offered strong opinions about Rousey’s future Saturday, a day after Nunes punched Rousey into submission in less than a minute. Rousey (12-2), once the most dominant fighter in the sport, has now lost two straight boutss 13 months apart, looking unprepared and overmatched against both Holly Holm and Nunes.
After Nunes easily defended the bantamweight belt once held by Rousey, the champion encouraged Rousey to move on.
“That’s it for her,” Nunes said Friday night. “For sure, she’s going to retire. She can’t take it anymore. If she wants the rematch, I’m going to do the same thing, because she can’t take my punches.”
Other major figures in mixed martial arts disagree.
Jones was arguably the most feared fighter in the sport before failing a drug test last summer. The suspended former light heavyweight champion took to Twitter on Saturday to encourage Rousey.
“My advice to Ronda would be to pick yourself up and try again,” Jones wrote. “I think it’s important for Ronda to show her fans how great she truly is by displaying her courage and giving it another try.”
Rousey declined to promote her comeback bout, and she refused to discuss her loss with fans or reporters after making a guaranteed $3 million along with undisclosed millions in bonuses and pay-per-view revenue from the UFC’s year-end show. She issued a statement to ESPN on Saturday.
“Returning to not just fighting, but winning, was my entire focus this past year,” Rousey wrote. “However, sometimes — even when you prepare and give everything you have and want something so badly — it doesn’t work how you planned. I take pride in seeing how far the women’s division has come in the UFC and commend all the other women who have been part of making this possible, including Amanda.
“I need to take some time to reflect and think about the future. Thank you for believing in me and understanding.”
Nunes acknowledged feeling sorry for Rousey after landing 27 punches on the former champion in just 48 seconds. Nunes believes the cumulative stress of Rousey’s first loss, her acting career and numerous outside-the-cage responsibilities combined to “pressure her too much.”
Nunes spoke directly to a bloodied Rousey in the cage after the loss.
“I told her, ‘You did a lot for this sport,'” Nunes said. “‘Thank you so much. Now, take some time to rest and maybe do something else.’ Why should she keep doing this? She’s a millionaire already. Why would she want to keep doing this? She’ll hurt herself.”
But Jones sees a ferocious competitor in Rousey behind the acting jobs and modeling gigs.
“What she does next will truly determine her legacy,” Jones wrote. “I really hope she chooses to be … unbroken. Her story doesn’t have to be over here. I also still believe she beats 90 (percent) of the division. Lots of ass kicking still to be done, lots of money to be made.”
Jones also joined Nunes and innumerable MMA figures in questioning the effectiveness of Rousey’s coaching.
Edmond Tarverdyan, Rousey’s coach, was widely criticized for his uneven, unusual coaching methods even before Rousey’s career faltered. Even Rousey’s mother, AnnMaria De Mars, has ripped Tarverdyan, but Rousey has remained fiercely loyal to her longtime guru.
Jones is based at the Albuquerque gym of respected trainer Greg Jackson, the mastermind behind several UFC champions. Rousey’s striking has long been a weak spot for the Olympic judo medalist, and she was utterly unable to cope with Nunes’ punching ability, showing little growth in the past year from the weaknesses exposed by Holm.
“Maybe she just needs to complement her coach with an MMA family,” Jones wrote. “Maybe she should join one of the bigger MMA teams. … Being around other bad asses and constantly sharing your spotlight could be good for you (in) so many ways. They can improve on your humility.”
Rousey turns 30 years old in February, with several years of her ostensible athletic prime before her. While she has circled several major acting jobs after playing three supporting roles in recent years, she doesn’t appear to have any major film commitments.
But Rousey took several months off after her first defeat, and she seems likely to be deliberate again. De Mars, who cradled Rousey as the fighter left the T-Mobile Arena cage, took to her blog Saturday to offer support.
“She cares DEEPLY about winning to an extent that I don’t believe the average person can wrap his/her head around,” De Mars wrote. “I am very proud of my daughter.”
Copyright 2017 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.