Retired UFC superstar Ronda Rousey said “thank you” to the UFC fighter who beat up her protege in a recent UFC fight. Rousey expressed gratitude to 36-year-old middleweight contender Dereck Brunson after that fighter trounced 22-year-old prospect Edmen Shahbazyan via third-round stoppage on August 1 at UFC APEX in Las Vegas.
Shahbazyan had been hailed by Bleacher Report and various other media outlets as Rousey’s “protege” due to him working with Rousey as her chief sparring partner during the former women’s bantamweight champ’s stunning run with the company a few years ago.
“Thank you @DerekBrunson, congrats on your well-deserved victory and thank you for teaching @edmenshahbazyan lessons he needed to learn to be a champion,” Rousey posted.
You can see Rousey’s entire interaction with Brunson below.
You can watch Brunson stop Shahbazyan at UFC Fight Night on August 1 in the clip below.
Here’s the brutal aftermath of the fight for the middleweight prospect Shahbazyan.
Here’s Why Rousey Thanked Brunson for Wrecking Shahbazyan
Today, Rousey works as Shahbazyan’s manager, so the two have remained close over the years since the former stopped competing in the UFC and the latter grew from teenage apprentice into one of the hottest UFC prospects in the company.
While it may seem strange to some that Rousey would thank Brunson for dominating her fighter and handing him the first loss of his MMA career, the truth of the matter is that Rousey knows just how important these kinds of early setbacks can be for a young fighter.
So Rousey was essentially thanking Brunson for helping her fighter get better at what he does.
It’s obvious that she and other members of Shahbazyan’s team still expect big things from the young phenom.
Heck, even UFC president Dana White said after the upset loss that he still viewed Shahbazyan as a rising prospect.
“No, I wasn’t disappointed,” White said at the post-fight press conference. “Listen, everybody knew, no matter what the odds said, he’s going in against an experienced f***ing guy. Brunson’s fought everybody. Shahbazyan hasn’t fought everybody and this is where you find out where a guy’s at tonight. You put him in against a guy like Derek Brunson.”
Rousey Never Formally Retired from UFC
Rousey never formally retired from the UFC but she has expressed several times over the past few yews that she doesn’t intend on fighting ever again.
The 33-year-old American hasn’t competed in the UFC since losing to Amanda Nunes via first-round knockout at UFC 2017 in December 2016.
Overall, Rousey was 12-2 in MMA. Her only two losses were in the last two fights of her career against Nunes and to Holly Holm at UFC 193 in November 2015.
Before those setbacks, Rousey’s dominant run through the competition solidified her as one of the best, most popular and most important fighters in MMA history.
In fact, the UFC might never have allowed women to compete under its promotional banner had Rousey’s talent, ability and popularity not demanded the company change its ways.
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