An open letter to Ronda Rousey

(Esther Lin/MMA Fighting)
(Esther Lin/MMA Fighting)

Hello Ronda,

I won’t ask how you’re doing because, well, I think anybody with a shred of empathy and any knowledge of you would have a basic understanding how you’re doing. I don’t think your fight with Holly Holm went the way most people expected, let alone yourself. Losing sucks, there’s no way around it. It still happens though, even to the best of us, in ways we don’t expect. Loss is the opponent that will always get the better of us, no matter where we face it. All we can do is get up back up, dust ourselves off, and figure out what to do next. Right now, you’re in a foreign country, surrounded by people who may not necessarily have your best interests at heart. That’s a pretty crappy place to be, and as someone who wants to see people succeed and be happy, I have some things I would like to suggest that may help.

Firstly, I understand you and your mother, Dr. Ann Maria De Mars, have had your ups and downs as far as your relationship goes. However, she is the first person you should be turning to. Not your coaches/hangers-on, not any significant others or partners, and certainly not any managers or lawyers, but your mother. It might be good for you to go and spend a month with her and your stepfather, away from the cameras and microphones. Spend it off social media, spend it away from the Glendale Fight Club, and spend it with the people who you know absolutely, 100% love you and want the best for you. Take this time for soul-searching, if at all possible. You’ve been under a lot of pressure, and at your level of fame, the added scrutiny placed upon your divisions must make things even more difficult by many orders of magnitude. If Sean Shelby sends you a text? Ignore it. If Dana White calls? Tell him you’re on a break. If Lorenzo Fertita shows up at the door? Offer him a coffee, but tell him in no uncertain terms will you talk about fighting again until you’re ready.

Now, I saw the UFC 193 weigh-ins, and I’ll be honest, the whole deal with Holly Holm, it looked like you forced it so you had something to be mad at her about. Continually fighting out of anger is not a healthy thing. Just carrying that around, having that little knot of rage buried inside you is a hard thing to do. I was bullied pretty severely when I was in school, and I carried that animosity with me for a long time afterwards. It ate away at me, kept me depressed and bitter, and put a chip on my shoulder that made me feel like I was under tremendous pressure. When I came to terms with it, a huge burden lifted off of me. I found ways to be driven without being pissed off all the time, and at the same time I was able to find peace. Being at peace doesn’t mean you’re complacent, mind you, but it does allow you to deal with challenges in a healthier way. I don’t know what it will take for you to find peace in your soul, but I hope you do.

Finally, I think you need to consider making some wholesale changes in your training. A lot of criticism has been leveled at your head coach, Edmond Taverdyan, and I think it’s fair, to be honest. If you look at the people who followed you to the Glendale Fight Club, people like Shayna Baszler, Jessamyn Duke, Marina Shafir, and Jake Ellenberger. One could say that they showed no improvement under his tutelage, or – worse yet – actually regressed. The fact that you got to where you have with him as your head coach is a testament to your natural abilities, not his guidance. As hard as it may be, perhaps a change in camps is necessary if you want to develop further both as a fighter and a martial artist. A coach like Matt Hume may be a better fit for you, as opposed to people who seem to want to use you as a draw for their own enterprises. Look at what he’s done in molding Demetrious Johnson, a man who is arguably the pound for pound best fighter in the world! It’s something that I hope you seriously consider.

A lot of people are taking glee in your defeat. I’m not one of them. I write this as someone who is grateful for the role model you have become for kids like my daughter, and the lane you have cleared for other people to become role models. Many people will take this opportunity to write you off, but please don’t listen to them. People talk about the American Dream as one of success, but that’s only partly true. The real story of the American Dream is that of redemption: Coming back from a fall to succeed, while making up for mistakes and missteps along the way. I hope that you can take that to heart, and even embody that as you come back from this loss to Holly Holm. Good luck and Godspeed, Ronda Rousey.

Sincerely,

Justin Pierrot

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