In a recent appearance on Theo Von podcast, UFC President Dana White discussed which retirements impacted him the most emotionally.
While many expected White to say he was most affected by Khabib Nurmagomedov’s surprise retirement, he had a different answer.
For White, it was undoubtedly women’s bantamweight superstar Ronda Rousey walking away that stung the most.
“I would say the toughest retirement for me because usually when it’s time for them to retire, I’m happy for them to retire. It’s it’s over…The toughest retirement for me was Ronda Rousey,” explained White on the podcast.
Rousey was the first true mainstream female MMA superstar and key to helping bring women into the UFC. She dominated the bantamweight division, going on a 12-fight win streak that included 9 title defenses. Her prowess inside the cage combined with her looks and charisma made Rousey a massive draw for the UFC.
However, Rousey suffered a surprising head kick KO loss to Holly Holm in 2015 that began a quick downward spiral. She followed that with a loss to Amanda Nunes a year later and abruptly retired from MMA soon after at just 29 years old.
For Dana White, Rousey retiring in her prime was difficult to accept. He admitted they had become very close over the years as she broke down barriers for women in the sport.
“Ronda and I are super close and that was a tough one,” said White, showing rare emotion. It signaled the end of an era for women’s MMA, the UFC, and for White’s personal relationship with the trailblazing Ronda Rousey. Her sudden retirement caught many off guard, but clearly impacted White the most out of all the UFC’s great champions hanging up their gloves in recent memory.