On December 30th, 2016, many around the world watched as former female bantamweight champion, Ronda Rousey was defeated epically by current and deserved champ, Amanda Nunes. It was a flawless victory for Nunes. It was the end of an era for Rousey.
Firstly, I want to say Ronda Rousey was a great example for women in MMA. She helped fight the sexist stereotype that women don’t belong in the ring and that women can’t be warriors. Well, they’re dead wrong. I have no doubt that, at some point, Ronda will be inducted into the UFC Hall of Fame. But… for Ronda, her entire purpose was winning. Inevitably, when you lose with this as your mentality, it can be mentally devastating. She admitted on Ellen that her knockout loss to Holly Homes affected her mental health drastically
Even during her walk-in to UFC 207, despite her initial trademark Ronda Rousey face, you could see that she was not the same Ronda she used to be. In the end, she was clearly and beyond dominantly defeated, and just like before she couldn’t handle this loss. Part of this has to do with her mentality that “winning is everything.”
The day after Ronda’s loss, her mother Dr. AnnMarie De Mars posted on her personal blog:
All of those who have criticized Ronda for taking a loss so to heart, for not just ‘shrugging it off’ don’t understand that what made Ronda so successful is that she cares DEEPLY about winning to an extent that I don’t believe the average person can wrap his/her head around.
Caring deeply about something and working your hardest to achieve it doesn’t mean you make the right decisions 100% of the time. Wouldn’t it be a nicer world if it did?
The idea that “winners focus on winning, and losers focus on winners” is bullshit. A true champion employs a strategy. Part of any strategy is learning your opponent and focusing on their strengths and weakness so that you can better be prepared to deal with them.
Of course, if you are focusing on winning and not putting in the training hours to get there, then you may have a problem.
In the same fight card, Cody Garbrandt beat Dominic Cruz, who hasn’t lost in over 10 years. Not only that, he beat him fair and square in a 5-round fight with Cody being the clear victor. Cody had said that he’d been looking at Dominic since he was 12 or 13 years old. But this isn’t what people are calling “losers focus on the winners.” Cody’s focus was a goal, not a purpose. It was a goal to become a winner by beating Dominic, which is a health goal because it gives him something to work towards. Not everyone who was a champ is the best there ever was. Look at Michael Bisping, who is the current champ at 185 lbs for example. He’s not the best in the history of MMA, but he kept working and kept believing in himself and eventually the opportunity came up for him to get the belt. Yet, he is still someone who had some devastating losses. You could also compare Ronda’s reaction to her loss to how Dominic handled his loss post-fight.
With Ronda, it shows why the idea that “winners focus on winning” is dangerous. Especially in the fight industry in which there are high stress and high risk, inevitably something’s got to give. Winning cannot be your purpose. You will eventually either physically or mentally fail or lose, and facing reality then will be far more devastating than when you live as someone whose sole purpose isn’t just to win.
Adversity, loss, pain, and failure are all things I, myself have faced. Yet, I keep on pursuing my endeavors. If you cannot face the potential for loss, you are going to have serious problems reaching your goals. Winners don’t focus on winning. The sole purpose of winners isn’t winning. It is dangerous for your overall mental health if you are someone who believes this, so please stop. Winners should not focus on winning because that causes overconfidence and underestimation of the tasks or opponents in front of you.
A true champion focuses on the learning experience. Winners focus on the process of how to always be the best version of themselves. Sometimes, this means to take a loss and learn from it to be better. A true champion also knows when it’s time to stop because eventually the enemy of time always catches up and that’s a battle you cannot win. If winners focus on winning, in the end, they will be sorely disappointed how that turns out. Winners focus on learning and growth, and how to be the best version of themselves that they can. If this means you won’t be the champ or continue your infinite winning streak, as the French say, C’est La Vie!
Such is life!