The aftermath of Ronda Rousey's defeat and what we can learn from it.

It was the kick to the face heard 'round the world.

Ever since the shocking knockout of then-undefeated mixed martial arts champion Ronda Rousey by Holly Holm last month, Rousey has been humiliated and in hiding. Until now.



One of the punches before the final kick, which was so graphic, I refrained from posting. Photo by Paul Crock/Getty Images.

This week, the fighter and cultural phenom opened up to ESPN Magazine's Ramona Shelburne in her first interview since her punishing defeat.

The interview (which you should definitely read in its entirety if you have the time) covers everything from Rousey's days since the fight to her team's reactions to the loss, her career leading up to this moment, and her controversial romantic relationship with a boyfriend accused of domestic violence in a previous relationship. But the opening quote from Rousey sums up the conversation's central and surprising theme:

"I'm just really f---ing sad."

That's right. The brash fighter known for her bravado is openly mourning her crushing defeat.

As a lifelong boxing fan (yes, boxing, MMA's graying older cousin), I've seen quite a few upsets and fallen champions in my day. But I've never seen any quite as openly despondent as Rousey in this interview.

"I just feel so embarrassed. How I fought after that is such an embarrassing representation of myself."

While most athletes who are "good sports" give the obligatory congratulations to their opponent, when champions lose, there is typically still a hint of bravado glimmering beneath the surface. Especially when the losing champion was known for confidence. Swollen-eyed and bloody-lipped, they say things like: "They fought a better fight than me, but it won't happen again" or "Congratulations to the winner; I hope they enjoy their brief time with my title."

Not Rousey. At least not here.

Some might see her sudden lack of cockiness as evidence of a well-deserved humbling that was long overdue. The fighter has made her fair share of enemies both inside the ring (she famously refused to touch gloves with Holm before the fight) and outside of it (see the backlash over her transphobic remarks about transgender fighters).

But it's impossible to hear Rousey now without thinking of the complicated relationship that women — particularly highly successful women — often have with failure.

Photo by Frazer Harrison/Getty Images.

See, for any ambitious person, the societal narratives around failure are downright confusing: It's something we're supposed to embrace to get ahead ... and yet, success only comes by being a consistent winner. How's that for a conundrum?

But for women, the dilemma gets even trickier. There's often the added pressure of being the first, the only woman (think Hillary Clinton) or of having to work twice as hard as the boys for respect (think Serena Williams). Under that pressure, failure can feel like a setback of epic proportions.

"You can't succeed without failing first" is the popular adage. But for women, there's often an addendum: "Failure is the key to your success, but you can't fail without confirming the sexist naysayers, losing ground, losing respect, losing your position, or opening yourself up to public ridicule."

Are these results 100% unique to women? Of course not. But the topic of women and failure has been heavily studied, and the research provides an interesting backdrop for Rousey's post-loss despair.

Research shows that women are generally more afraid to fail and that failure hits them harder than their male counterparts.

That fear can affect women's long-term trajectory and standing in their fields. Everything from would-be female scientists dropping out of STEM programs to women avoiding entrepreneurship to female journalists pitching fewer stories has been linked, in part, to women's fear of rejection.

"Every American heroine should brace herself for the backlash. We want superwomen, but when we find them, it freaks us the hell out." — Ramona Shelburne in an interview with Ronda Rousey

There are many theories about why that's the case. Maybe it's because, as children, girls are often praised for their innate abilities while boys are praised for their valiant efforts. That can lead boys to grow into men accustomed to risk while girls become women who avoid situations that don't guarantee perfection.

Or perhaps it's simply the result of living in a sexist society, where the consequences of failure are much harsher for women. In this regard, their fear is often justified.

But whatever the reason for women's enhanced sensitivity to failure, experts Carol Dweck and Rachel Simmons say of the leading research, "We've spilled more ink on whether women believe in themselves and not enough on what happens when women fail."

So what happens when this thing we fear so much actually occurs?

That question is why Rousey is an interesting case study. It's rare for us to see wildly successful women known for winning lose in a crushing and public defeat.

In the interview, Shelburne directly calls out the questions about what Rousey's loss may have "represented" (emphasis added):

Shelburne: "Now we're left wondering what really ended that night in Australia. The Rousey Myth of Invincibility? The idea that one woman could fly in on a cape and take down male hegemony with an armbar?"


Rousey: "I feel like I'm grieving the death of the person who could've done that."

When Rousey was defeated, the mocking and criticism was unlike any that I've seen in recent sports history.

To be fair, most opinionated, strong women who fail in public are familiar with backlash. As Shelburne noted in the profile, "Every American heroine should brace herself for the backlash. We want superwomen, but when we find them, it freaks us the hell out."


But I, for one, am glad we get to see such an open reaction from Rousey in the ESPN interview because there are two powerful things we can learn from it:

1. It's OK to be more transparent about the pain of defeat.

While Rousey may have been physically hiding from the paparazzi, she isn't hiding behind a facade of impenetrability and stoicism that women so often feel the need to project to the world. She is, as the writer observed "being vulnerable when everyone thought she was invincible."

In other words, she's revealing herself as human. What would happen if more of us did the same?

What if we stopped saying "It's OK!" or "I'm fine!"and just admitted "This hurts and has knocked me for a loop. I am still trying to recover."

Perhaps if we did, it wouldn't just offer us healthy emotional release, it would give folks a better understanding of how much strength and resolve it takes to get back up.

Which leads to the second lesson that we can learn from Rousey:

2. Fighters always get back in the ring.

The only time Rousey's confidence shines through is when she's discussing her imminent return and the potential for a rematch:

"I need to come back. I need to beat this chick. Who knows if I'm going to pop my teeth out or break my jaw or rip my lip open. I have to f---ing do it."

Later in the interview, when asked the question "So, are you going to fight again?" Rousey answered simply, "What else am I going to f---ing do?"

What else indeed. Rousey is a fighter and a champion. And champions never let defeat truly defeat them. Even with her pain and embarrassment in the present moment, she's already made a decision to get back in the arena with the confidence that failure is merely a comma not a period in the story of her life.

"I always say you have to be willing to get your heart broken. That's just what f---ing happens when you try."

What if all women, if given the opportunity, always chose to do the same?

Photo by Paul Crock/Getty Images.

Ultimately, time will tell whether or not this defeat changes the trajectory of Rousey's career. Did it mar her legacy? Did it "appropriately" humble her, as many in the public stated (even though arrogance is typically praised in male fighters)? Will it empower her to be better and victorious the next time around? Fight fans will have to wait and see.

In the meantime, her public failure, public grief, and desire for a public reprise can serve as an example to women: We undefeated overachievers can survive the knockouts of life just as well as the boys.

And we, too, can always get back up.

Images courtesy of John Scully, Walden University, Ingrid Scully
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Since March of 2020, over 29 million Americans have been diagnosed with COVID-19, according to the CDC. Over 540,000 have died in the United States as this unprecedented pandemic has swept the globe. And yet, by the end of 2020, it looked like science was winning: vaccines had been developed.

In celebration of the power of science we spoke to three people: an individual, a medical provider, and a vaccine scientist about how vaccines have impacted them throughout their lives. Here are their answers:

John Scully, 79, resident of Florida

Photo courtesy of John Scully

When John Scully was born, America was in the midst of an epidemic: tens of thousands of children in the United States were falling ill with paralytic poliomyelitis — otherwise known as polio, a disease that attacks the central nervous system and often leaves its victims partially or fully paralyzed.

"As kids, we were all afraid of getting polio," he says, "because if you got polio, you could end up in the dreaded iron lung and we were all terrified of those." Iron lungs were respirators that enclosed most of a person's body; people with severe cases often would end up in these respirators as they fought for their lives.

John remembers going to see matinee showings of cowboy movies on Saturdays and, before the movie, shorts would run. "Usually they showed the news," he says, "but I just remember seeing this one clip warning us about polio and it just showed all these kids in iron lungs." If kids survived the iron lung, they'd often come back to school on crutches, in leg braces, or in wheelchairs.

"We all tried to be really careful in the summer — or, as we called it back then, 'polio season,''" John says. This was because every year around Memorial Day, major outbreaks would begin to emerge and they'd spike sometime around August. People weren't really sure how the disease spread at the time, but many believed it traveled through the water. There was no cure — and every child was susceptible to getting sick with it.

"We couldn't swim in hot weather," he remembers, "and the municipal outdoor pool would close down in August."

Then, in 1954 clinical trials began for Dr. Jonas Salk's vaccine against polio and within a year, his vaccine was announced safe. "I got that vaccine at school," John says. Within two years, U.S. polio cases had dropped 85-95 percent — even before a second vaccine was developed by Dr. Albert Sabin in the 1960s. "I remember how much better things got after the vaccines came out. They changed everything," John says.

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via Forbes / YouTube

Swedish climate activist Greta Thunberg, 18, gave a blistering critique to a House of Representatives panel on Thursday, focusing on the country's fossil fuel subsidies.

Thunberg appeared virtually at the two-day Earth Day summit where the Biden Administration announced its pledge to slash U.S. greenhouse gas emissions in half by 2030.

Thunberg has become an international climate icon after delivering impassioned speeches to the United Nations and inspiring the largest climate change protest in history in 2019.

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2020 was difficult (to say the least). The year was full of life changes, losses, and lessons as we learned to navigate the "new normal." You may have questions about what the changes and challenges of 2020 mean for your taxes. That's where TurboTax Live comes in, making it easy to connect with real tax experts to help with your taxes – or even do them for you, start to finish.

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Julz, hairdresser and salon owner

"As a hairdresser and salon owner, 2020 was extremely challenging," says Julz. "Being a hairdresser has historically been a recession-proof industry, but we've never faced global shut down due to health risk, or pandemic, not in my lifetime. And for the first time, hairdressers didn't have job security."

Julz had to shut down her salon and go on unemployment benefits for the first time. She also had to figure out how she was going to support herself, her staff and her business during this difficult time. But many other beauty industry professionals didn't have access to the resources they needed, so Julz decided to help.

"My business partner and I began teaching basic financial literacy to other beauty industry professionals," she says. "Transitioning our business from behind the chair to an online academy was a challenge we tackled head-on so that we could move hairdressers into this new space of education, and create a more accessible curriculum to better serve our industry.

Julz connected with a TurboTax Live expert who helped her understand how unemployment affected her taxes and gave her guidance on filing quarterly estimated taxes for her small business. "I was terrified to sit at a computer and tackle this mess of receipts," Julz says, so "it was great to have some virtual handholding to walk me through each question."

In addition to giving Julz the personalized tax advice she needed, TurboTax Live surprised her with a "little lift" that empowered her to help even more beauty professionals. "When my tax expert Diana surprised me with a little lift, I was moved to tears," says Julz. "With that little lift, I was able to establish a scholarship fund to help get other hairdressers the education they deserve."


Alana, new mom

Alana welcomed her first child in 2020. "I think my biggest challenge was figuring out how to be a mom, with no guidance," she says. "My original plan was to have my mom by my side, teaching me the ropes, but because of COVID, she wasn't able to come out here."

She was also without a job for most of 2020 and struggled to find something new.

So, Alana took it as a sign: she decided to launch her own business so she could support her new baby, and that's exactly what she did. She started a feel-good company that specializes in creating affirmation card decks — and she's currently in the process of starting a second, video-editing business.

TurboTax Live answered Alana's questions about her taxes and gave her some much-needed advice as she prepared to launch her businesses. Thanks to their "little lift," they provided her with a little emotional support too.

"I got my mom a plane ticket to finally [have her] meet [my daughter] for her first birthday," Alana says. "I was also able to get a new computer," which helped her invest in her new business and work on her video editing skills. "It's helped my family and me so much," she says.


Michael, science teacher

When schools shut down across the country last year, Michael had to learn how to adapt to a virtual classroom.

"As a teacher, I had to completely revamp everything," he says, so that he could keep his students engaged while teaching online. "At the beginning, it was a nightmare because I had no idea. I had to go from A-Z within a couple of weeks."

Michael's TurboTax Live expert answered his questions about how working from home affected his taxes and helped him uncover surprising tax deductions. To top it all off, his expert surprised him with brand new science equipment and supplies, which allowed him to create an entire line of classes on YouTube, TikTok, Instagram, and Facebook. "Now I can truly potentially reach millions of children with my lessons," he says. "I would never have taken that leap if not for the little lift from TurboTax Live."



Ricky, motivational youth speaker

As a motivational speaker, Ricky was used to doing his job in person, but, he says, "when COVID-19 hit, it altered my ability to travel and visit schools in person [because] schools moved to fully virtual or hybrid models."

He knew he had to pivot — so he began offering small virtual group workshops for student leadership groups at middle and high schools.

"This allowed me to work with student leaders to plan how they would continue making a positive impact on their school community," he says. He wasn't sure how being remote would affect his taxes, but TurboTax Live Self-Employed gave him the advice and answers that he needed to keep more money in his pocket at tax time — and the little lift he received from them has helped him serve even more students.

"[It] has been a major blessing," he says "There will be multiple schools and student groups from across the country that I can hold leadership workshops with to empower them with the tools to be inspirational leaders in their school, community, and world."

Plus, he says, it was great knowing he had an expert to help him figure out how being remote affected his taxes. "I felt confident and assured in the process of filing my taxes knowing I had an expert working with me, says Ricky. "There were things my expert knew that I would not have considered when filing on my own."

Filing your taxes doesn't have to be intimidating, especially after a year like 2020. TurboTax Live experts can give you the "little lift" you need to get your taxes done. File with the help of an expert or let an expert file for you! Go to TurboTax Live to get started.