No One Knows Whether Ronda Rousey Still Wants to Fight

Fans hate it when athletes make excuses, but savvy fans know that these excuses can serve a purpose: a fighter who refuses to accept a loss might be gearing up to try to avenge it. Soon after the fight, McGregor posted a defiant treatise on Instagram, concluding with six-word promise: “Nate I will see you again.” Less than two weeks later, a leading M.M.A. site was reporting that a rematch was being arranged; in August, McGregor faced Diaz again, and beat him. He did what he had promised to do.

.. although she gave a moving interview to Ellen DeGeneres, in which she said she contemplated suicide after the loss.

.. Instead of trying to convince herself that being kicked unconscious was no big deal, Rousey essentially confirmed that the experience was shattering, and she betrayed no eagerness to be locked in a cage, once more, with the woman who had shattered her.

.. She had a fledgling acting career and no evident compulsion to avenge herself. Why fight at all, if you don’t need to, and don’t really want to?

.. In November, she gave another interview to Ellen DeGeneres, telling her, “This is definitely one of my last fights.” And a few weeks ago, she was profiled in ESPN The Magazine; she said, “I want to be able to walk away with my head held high.” Some traditionalists believe that fighting for a living requires total commitment, and total confidence; anyone thinking about quitting has, in this view, already given herself permission to quit.

.. We also know, from ESPN, that she has persistent damage to her knee cartilage—unless, that is, she was slyly feeding Nunes some medical misinformation.

.. Rousey is giving fight fans most of what they want: a big fight, even without the customary accompanying big talk. Of course, big talk played a crucial role in transforming Rousey from a skilled M.M.A. champion into a mainstream celebrity. She was the baddest woman on the planet until, suddenly, she wasn’t.