Chael Sonnen is confident that Ronda Rousey left the MMA sport at the right time, and that her timing, in fact, contributed towards her success.
The UFC’s first female champion, Rousey made waves in MMA and polarized fans in the process. She achieved many firsts throughout her career and defeated notable contenders including Liz Carmouche, Cat Zingano, and Miesha Tate. However, her exit from the sport left a lot to be desired.
Rousey’s last two fights at the UFC were back-to-back losses against Holly Holm and Amanda Nunes. She didn’t officially retire from the sport but hasn’t fought since 2016. Many members of the MMA circuit felt Rousey wasn’t satisfied with her legacy and her departure was an anticlimactic finish to an otherwise triumphant career.
Chael Sonnen acknowledged that he doesn’t think Rousey was the best fighter, but she made the right decision to leave when her time had passed.
The MMA analyst weighed in on her departure in an episode of Ariel Helwani’s MMA Show (transcript via MMA News):
“I do admit I never thought that Ronda was the best fighter in the world. The division was just forming and she was in the right place at the right time. And that sounds insulting but that’s the way I see it. Ariel, I think she actually deserves a compliment. When she took her ball and went home as you put it, I think that actually left a message.
“I think that decision looked kinda like a fine wine and got better in time in this way when you’ve had enough in this sport get out of it. Whether that means opening up your spot on the roster or in her case, her spot in title fights and main events and giving that chance to somebody else, or just for her own sanity and physicality. If it’s not what you wanna do anymore, get out of the way. Don’t go one foot in and one foot out.”
Since walking away from the sport, “Rowdy” has established a career in WWE. Despite the negative reaction she faced when she walked away from the Octagon, Sonnen is confident she has lead by example.
“I think Ronda’s decision, while judged and criticized at the time, I think it looks better with age,” Sonnen said. “And I think that she made the right decision and helped to set a good example.”
This article first appeared on BJPENN.com on 1/7/2020.