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Criticism of Ronda Rousey an unfair double standard

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Criticism of Ronda Rousey an unfair double standard

Chris Ware caricature of Rhonda Rousey (TNS). Ronda Jean Rousey is an American mixed martial artist, judoka and actress.

Chris Ware caricature of Rhonda Rousey (TNS). Ronda Jean Rousey is an American mixed martial artist, judoka and actress.

Chris Ware caricature of Rhonda Rousey (TNS). Ronda Jean Rousey is an American mixed martial artist, judoka and actress.

Chris Ware caricature of Rhonda Rousey (TNS). Ronda Jean Rousey is an American mixed martial artist, judoka and actress.

By Chris Puzia / Assistant Sports Editor

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With one swift kick to the neck Saturday night, Ronda Rousey went from renowned role model to the Internet’s punching bag.

A hailstorm of backlash and social media mudslinging hit UFC superstar Ronda Rousey this weekend following her UFC 193 loss to Holly Holm, one of the most shocking upsets in recent sports history.

Everyone and their grandmother had a hot take. Lady Gaga posted a photo of Rousey getting punched on Instagram, with the caption reading, “That’s what you get for not touching gloves,” referring to the pregame tradition of opponents tapping their fighting gloves with each other before the fight.

Donald Trump unsurprisingly shared his negative opinion about somebody via Twitter, saying, “Glad to see that [Rousey] lost her championship fight last night — was soundly beaten. Not a nice person!”

Countless other outlets rehashed the sentiments of Trump and Gaga and published takes all amounting to a similar sentiment: It is good that Rousey lost because she is arrogant, and she has never been a role-model type of athlete.

Anyone delighting in one of the greatest MMA fighters of all time suffering her first loss needs to evaluate Rousey — and her hubris — fairly.

The truth is that Rousey still is an ideal role model, just as much now as she was before Saturday night.

“Rousey is known for calling the shots and saying what’s on her mind, which makes her the perfect person for any girl to name as her No. 1 role model,” Hillary Weaver of Bustle magazine wrote.

Rousey, with her confident, direct personality, is so vital to UFC and sports at large, especially when male athletes and icons dominate every sphere. How she responds from this setback is key, for both her legacy and the culture of professional athletics.

So far her comeback is still in its fledging stages. She received a 60-day medical suspension from UFC due to the injuries sustained in the fight and has been quiet on most fronts, simply posting an Instagram picture that stated, “I’m going to take a little bit of time, but I’ll be back.”

Maybe the two-pronged impact — of competing in a sport where one loss can ruin a career and serving as the lone massively recognizable woman in MMA — set up Rousey to fail.

“The less savory elements of Rousey’s personality and fighting style often get swept under the rug in favor of this idealized perception of her,” Nathan Grayson of Kotaku wrote after the fight. “People don’t want to acknowledge her mistakes — nor give her leeway to occasionally make them — because they need her to represent something. A powerful woman in sports, a larger than life figure.”

As Grayson notes, people don’t simply have a problem with her arrogance — fighters from Muhammad Ali to Floyd Mayweather have been cocky and self-satisfied — there appears to be an issue with a woman adopting that swagger.

Before her fall, people applauded Rousey for her boldness — particularly in making comments toward Mayweather after he lost to her for the ESPY award for best fighter — when she said, “I wonder how Floyd feels about being beaten by a woman for once.”

Those same people cannot turn against Rousey now, as droves of pundits and fans alike already have. She has made mistakes and controversial and uninformed comments in the past, but she is far from the first professional athlete to do so, and now that she has lost, is receiving disproportionate criticism for it.

“Maybe Rousey lost because she bought her own press. She’s a glory girl,” Deadspin columnist Drew Magary said on the site’s podcast. “She bought too much into her brand, and got a little cocky.”

Is Rousey not allowed to enjoy her sustained level of dominance — given that in her previous fight, she knocked out opponent Bethe Correia in 34 seconds? Can’t she be proud?

Her self-confidence and outspoken stance about body image are excellent traits for young girls trying to break into a male-dominated sports sphere, or really anybody in need of a role model. Rousey was one of the more popular Halloween costumes among young girls this year.

In a USA Today article about Rousey, Britney Davis Cranford said her 3-year-old daughter adores Rousey, and she supports it.

“As parents we want to foster that competitive spirit and also instill in our daughter the belief that hard work and perseverance pays off,” Cranford said. “Ronda epitomizes these convictions.”

Maybe instead of trying to break down one of the world’s best athletes after one loss and strip her role-model status, we should respect Rousey for the work she’s done to get to this platform.

There’s no reason why we shouldn’t continue to view her as one of the most dominant and influential figures in sports, regardless of gender.

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Criticism of Ronda Rousey an unfair double standard