Ronda Rousey will historically be considered one of the most important fighters in the history of her sport.
But no matter what she has done before, a big part of how she will be viewed in the future will depend on Friday’s fight with Amanda Nunes.
A win, making her two-time bantamweight champion, will make the narrative that she came back from a devastating defeat and layoff to regain her championship. And if she continues and faces Holly Holm in 2017, it’s a virtual lock to be one of the biggest fights in UFC history. It will be the biggest women’s fight of all-time if it does happen, and it could remain in that slot for an awfully long time. The combination of timing, historical importance and in-ring success and a lot of luck and charisma created a drawing card in Rousey that will be extremely difficult for any women to even come close to.
And if she loses, she will probably never fight again. The loss will be viewed by many as her being mentally broken in her last fight, and being unable to handle defeat. All of her actions, from taking a year off, to her change in attitude, to her not talking to the media nor promoting this fight much at all, will combine to paint her in a negative light, even though you can’t erase her as being the key figure in why UFC has women’s fighting and why it got as popular as it did.