Despite the fact that she hasn't set foot inside the cage since her stunning defeat at the hands of former women's bantamweight champion Holly Holm at UFC 193 last November, Ronda Rousey still remains one of the most discussed figures in all of mixed martial arts, as well as sports in general.
Prior to getting knocked out, Rousey was viewed as the female version of Mike Tyson, an unstoppable machine mowing down opponents in record time, and when she suffered her first loss and surrendered her title, much like Tyson, the sports world was in a state of shock.
Astute observers knew that Rousey wasn't unbeatable, but up until that point no one had hardly even tested her. Holm not only defeated her but she left her lying in an unconscious heap unaware of her surroundings. In hindsight many fans and pundits will pretend they saw the loss coming all along but at the time it was a gigantic upset.
So when will the woman who is one of the industry's two biggest stars return to the sport that made her famous? According to UFC president Dana White the only person who can answer that question is "Rowdy" Ronda herself.
Addressing the issue on The Dan Patrick Show, Dana said "I would really like her to fight this year. I hope she does. That's up to Ronda, Ronda is going to come out and let us know when she's going to fight again. No fighter has worked harder than Ronda Rousey over the last three years, other than probably Conor McGregor. So she deserves the time off."
Rousey's schedule is currently full with movie commitments, working on the Road House remake and having just signed a three film deal with the Lifetime Network. Most MMA followers expected her to return in time for UFC 200, but now that appears to be completely off the table. The next logical show would be UFC's New York debut at Madison Square Garden - which will occur 12 months after her loss to Holm - but there's been absolutely no chatter regarding that as an option either. At this point it's just a waiting game.
Ronda has made several media appearances lately where she's spoken of how difficult dealing with the loss to Holm has been for her, including a particularly jarring and emotional interview with Ellen DeGeneres in which she confessed the thought of suicide actually crossed her mind immediately following the defeat.
Part of what brought her to the dance was her competitive drive and mental fortitude and it would appear the loss to Holly Holm has caused some serious cracks in her armor. It's possible she might not ever recover from the failure of the expectations she had placed on herself and we've seen her final fight.
However, the Hollywood opportunities only came her way in the first place because of her status as an MMA fighter, and as anyone who has seen her acting can attest, those will soon dry up if she doesn't reestablish the aura that surrounded her.
Selfishly we fans would love to see her work through whatever mental hurdles she needs to clear and get back inside the octagon, but only when she's truly focused and prepared for the results, win or lose. She's a tremendous asset for the UFC and one of the most entertaining athletes of all-time. The sport misses her.