You’d have to imagine what sort of weight’s been lifted off of Ronda Rousey’s shoulders. Months of speculation riding on her rumored relationship with UFC heavyweight and fellow Glendale Fighting Club member Travis Browne, she’s finally able to exhale and admit the following:
“It’s true, Travis and I are in a relationship.”
But she didn’t need this. Not right now. Not at the start of her training camp to prepare for the biggest fight of her professional career.
Keeping a relationship hidden from the world’s sight is difficult for any one person, famous or otherwise. You’ve seen enough episodes of “Friends” and “How I Met Your Mother” to know that maintaining a secret relationship isn’t easy. But just imagine you’re not Chandler Bing or Ted Mosby. No, imagine you’re the most recognizable female athlete on the planet, rarely ever more than arm’s reach away from an autograph-seeking fan or a image-seeking photographer. When your name is Ronda Jean Rousey, people want to know about your life, and they’ll do away with any common courtesy to obtain the information.
So, yes, you’d have to imagine Rousey is somewhat relieved to no longer be living in secret.
But to expect the media — particularly those less enthused with Rousey’s fighting skills than they are with her personal life — to simply back off? Please, Ronda, you know better.
It doesn’t matter if this is all you want to say on the matter. Hell, Hillary Clinton can’t stop the media from asking questions about the Benghazi emails, regardless of how much she’d rather focus on her take on improving the middle class or revamping the Union’s approach on gun control. Even her greatest democratic rival Bernie Sanders has had enough, criticizing the media for its relentless attack on the subject.
You really start to wonder how long it’ll be before Holly Holm, Cris “Cyborg” Justino or Miesha Tate actually start standing up for Rousey instead of against her.
In spite of her polite, but stern request for privacy, the world will not offer it. They’ll want in on the details surrounding her relationship with Browne — a potentially controversial pairing considering a good portion of the public fails to separate fact from fiction. Yes, “Hapa” was accused of domestic abuse toward his wife Erin earlier this year. The UFC hired third-party investigators to dig for the truth, eventually exonerating Browne from any of the legal allegations issued by his wife. He’s an innocent man in the eyes of the law, the UFC and Rousey.
But as tends to be the case with most of the world’s accused, Browne is already guilty in the public eye. Unfortunately enough, even the freest of men are rarely ever entirely absolved of the fallacious accusations cast upon them, forced to roam the streets with a tarnished character following their every step. Is it fair? Absolutely not. But is it reality? You be the judge.
Ronda Rousey dating Travis Browne…
On their first date they went through an album of pictures of all the women they've beaten.
— #TheKing (@Izi_Garcia) October 12, 2015
Browne has to live with that. So long as Rousey remains at his side, she’ll have to live with it too.
She’s the most empowering female athlete to ever set foot to soil and she’s walking about arm in arm with a man accused of committing a heinous act against the opposite sex. For somebody as publicly opposed to Floyd Mayweather and his convicted history with domestic violence, Rousey’s character can hardly afford an unfairly perceived hypocritical move of this nature. Again, it’s an unfair perception against Rousey, but after empowering so many women with her “Do-Nothing B—h” monologue leading up to UFC 190, you have to imagine hordes of people on social media will be at the ready to unleash unwarranted attacks against the UFC queen.
She’ll know the barrage of verbal attacks to be untrue, but that doesn’t mean they won’t sting.
The attacks, the questions and assumptions will surround her as she prepares for Holly Holm at UFC 191, where Dana White and the promotion hope to break the UFC’s all-time attendance record by welcoming about 70,000 people down under at Etihad Stadium in Melbourne, Australia.
That sort of pressure alone — that is, forcing Rousey to bear the weight of the UFC’s loftiest expectations on her shoulders and her shoulders alone — is more than enough for any one fighter to endure. Add in the pressure of meeting all of her exhausting media obligations, the pressure of walking into the Octagon at her peak and the pressure of facing a woman who’s expected to stand as her toughest challenger and you’ve got yourself a difficult four weeks ahead for the champion.
Then you add in the idea that Rousey’s greatest supporter, her mother Dr. AnnMaria De Mars, doesn’t believe in Rousey’s head coach.
“I think Edmond [Tarverdyan] is a terrible coach, and I will say it publicly. I think he hit the lottery when Ronda walked in there. She was winning before she even met him. She probably won 99 percent of the judo matches she ever fought in. She had won the Junior Worlds when she was 17. She got a bronze medal in the Olympics. She got a silver medal in world championships. She was one of the top athletes in the world when she walked in there, and he wouldn’t even give her the time of day for months. Somebody like that is a terrible coach.
“I think she stays there because it’s like somebody who pitches a no-hitter when they’re wearing red underwear and then they wear that red underwear every day. I think it’s superstition. I would caution anybody from going there. I think it’s bad he uses her to lure people in, and I told Ronda I’m not going to be quiet about this anymore.”
As De Mars mentioned, this isn’t news to Rousey. It shouldn’t be, at least. She’s likely already dealt with the differences, blocking her mother out during her preparations in all 12 of her previous professional bouts.
But this is news to the rest of the world, which means folks are likely to pick at this idea in the coming weeks before and shortly after UFC 193.
Questions leading up to the fight are less likely to be about Holly Holm and the dangerous footwork she possesses. They’ll be about Rousey’s boyfriend, Rousey’s coach and Rousey’s mother — an unfair reality facing one of the most dominant fighters on the planet who, you know, just so happens to be female.