Over the past year, Ronda Rousey has morphed from the most recognizable face in the industry to nothing short of a ghost. Like Mark Wahlberg in the beginning of Shooter, the former women's bantamweight champion has stepped away from the game she once dominated to seemingly spend her remaining days chopping wood to feed the stove of her secluded mountainside cabin (sans the depression beard, of course).
Just like Mark Wahlberg's character in the 2007 action masterpiece, it was only a matter of time until the game pulled her back in.
First, Rousey was rumored to return at UFC 202. Then, she was being pegged for the UFC's megacard debut at Madison Square Garden (until she wasn't). Now, the word on the street is that "Rowdy" will be making her return for realsies (No takebacks!) on the UFC's year-end card, UFC 207.
There might actually be some truth to the rumors, this time.
The first piece of evidence comes from none other than UFC president, Dana White, who told Combate in September, "there is a great chance of Ronda fighting with Amanda Nunes, and I am very confident that they will probably fight before the end of the year." Even for a man with as tumultuous a relationship with the media as Dana has, that seems like a pretty definitive statement.
Second, a report from FOX Sports shortly thereafter broke the news that not only would Rousey be coming back by year's end, but that she had already received the contract to fight Nunes at UFC 207. Even Nunes herself has taken to Instagram to announce that fight news was on the way, after previously calling out Rousey this past August.
Could there be an actual timetable set for the return of the division's former queenpin? Given how many times we've already been burned, it would seem kind of foolhardy to invest that much hope into these reports, well-sourced though they may be. If that's not the case, it sure would make all of White's recent claims about Rousey seem all the more misleading.
In an interview with Hot 97 yesterday, the UFC boss adamantly declared that Rousey was "by far, not even close, by far the biggest star" that the promotion has ever had, doubling-down on the statements he made in August that "Rousey's return would break PPV records." While it's hard to disagree with either of those claims, it does make you wonder why White would be making them with no ulterior motive behind them, especially when he has what will surely be a record-breaking event featuring the current PPV king staring him in the face. Could it be that a McGregor fight simply sells itself, or is it that White's getting the early hype train moving for the return of the UFC's other biggest star?
Right now, the only thing we can know for certain is this: Ronda Rousey vs. Cris Cyborg is probably going to be delayed yet again because the world is a cruel and unjust place.