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.

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Should a man lose his home because the grass in his yard grew higher than 10 inches? The city of Dunedin, Florida seems to think so.

According to the Institute of Justice, which is representing Jim Ficken, he had a very good reason for not mowing his lawn – and tried to rectify the situation as best he could.

In 2014, Jim's mom became ill and he visited her often in South Carolina to help her out. When he was away, his grass grew too long and he was cited by a code office; he cut the grass and wasn't fined.

France has started forcing supermarkets to donate food instead of throwing it away.

But several years later, this one infraction would come back to haunt him after he left to take care of him's mom's affairs after she died. The arrangements he made to have his grass cut fell through (his friend who he asked to help him out passed away unexpectedly) and that set off a chain reaction that may result in him losing his home.

The 69-year-old retiree now faces a $29,833.50 fine plus interest. Watch the video to find out just what Jim is having to deal with.

Mow Your Lawn or Lose Your House! www.youtube.com

Cities

The world officially loves Michelle Obama.

The former first lady has overtaken the number one spot in a poll of the world's most admired women. Conducted by online research firm YouGov, the study uses international polling tools to survey people in countries around the world about who they most admire.

In the men's category, Bill Gates took the top spot, followed by Barack Obama and Jackie Chan.

In the women's category, Michelle Obama came first, followed by Oprah Winfrey and Angelina Jolie. Obama pushed Jolie out of the number one spot she claimed last year.

Unsurprising, really, because what's not to love about Michelle Obama? She is smart, kind, funny, accomplished, a great dancer, a devoted wife and mother, and an all-around, genuinely good person.

She has remained dignified and strong in the face of rabid masses of so-called Americans who spent eight years and beyond insisting that she's a man disguised as a woman. She's endured non-stop racist memes and terrifying threats to her family. She has received far more than her fair share of cruelty, and always takes the high road. She's the one who coined, "When they go low, we go high," after all.

She came from humble beginnings and remains down to earth despite becoming a familiar face around the world. She's not much older than me, but I still want to be like Michelle Obama when I grow up.

Her memoir, Becoming, may end up being the best-selling memoir of all time, having already sold 10 million copies—a clear sign that people can't get enough Michelle, because there's no such thing as too much Michelle.

Don't like Michelle Obama? Don't care. Those of us who love her will fly our MO flags high and without apology, paying no mind to folks with cold, dead hearts who don't know a gem of a human being when they see one. There is nothing any hater can say or do to make us admire this undeniably admirable woman any less.

When it seems like the world has lost its mind—which is how it feels most days these days—I'm just going to keep coming back to this study as evidence that hope for humanity is not lost.

Here. Enjoy some real-life Michelle on Jimmy Kimmel. (GAH. WHY IS SHE SO CUTE AND AWESOME. I can't even handle it.)

Michelle & Barack Obama are Boring Now www.youtube.com

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via EarthFix / Flickr

What will future generations never believe that we tolerated in 2019?

Dolphin and orca captivity, for sure. They'll probably shake their heads at how people died because they couldn't afford healthcare. And, they'll be completely mystified at the amount of food some people waste while others go starving.

According to Biological Diversity, "An estimated 40 percent of the food produced in the United States is wasted every year, costing households, businesses and farms about $218 billion annually."

There are so many things wrong with this.

First of all it's a waste of money for the households who throw out good food. Second, it's a waste of all of the resources that went into growing the food, including the animals who gave their lives for the meal. Third, there's something very wrong with throwing out food when one in eight Americans struggle with hunger.

Supermarkets are just as guilty of this unnecessary waste as consumers. About 10% of all food waste are supermarket products thrown out before they've reached their expiration date.

Three years ago, France took big steps to combat food waste by making a law that bans grocery stores from throwing away edible food.According to the new ordinance, stores can be fined for up to $4,500 for each infraction.

Previously, the French threw out 7.1 million tons of food. Sixty-seven percent of which was tossed by consumers, 15% by restaurants, and 11% by grocery stores.

This has created a network of over 5,000 charities that accept the food from supermarkets and donate them to charity. The law also struck down agreements between supermarkets and manufacturers that prohibited the stores from donating food to charities.

"There was one food manufacturer that was not authorized to donate the sandwiches it made for a particular supermarket brand. But now, we get 30,000 sandwiches a month from them — sandwiches that used to be thrown away," Jacques Bailet, head of the French network of food banks known as Banques Alimentaires, told NPR.

It's expected that similar laws may spread through Europe, but people are a lot less confident at it happening in the United States. The USDA believes that the biggest barrier to such a program would be cost to the charities and or supermarkets.

"The logistics of getting safe, wholesome, edible food from anywhere to people that can use it is really difficult," the organization said according to Gizmodo. "If you're having to set up a really expensive system to recover marginal amounts of food, that's not good for anybody."

Plus, the idea may seem a little too "socialist" for the average American's appetite.

"The French version is quite socialist, but I would say in a great way because you're providing a way where they [supermarkets] have to do the beneficial things not only for the environment, but from an ethical standpoint of getting healthy food to those who need it and minimizing some of the harmful greenhouse gas emissions that come when food ends up in a landfill," Jonathan Bloom, the author of American Wasteland, told NPR.

However, just because something may be socialist doesn't mean it's wrong. The greater wrong is the insane waste of money, damage to the environment, and devastation caused by hunger that can easily be avoided.

Planet

The world is dark and full of terrors, but every once in a while it graces us with something to warm our icy-cold hearts. And that is what we have today, with a single dad who went viral on Twitter after his daughter posted the photos he sent her when trying to pick out and outfit for his date. You love to see it.




After seeing these heartwarming pics, people on Twitter started suggesting this adorable man date their moms. It was essentially a mom and date matchmaking frenzy.

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