-- LAS VEGAS -- Maybe it was fitting that Ronda Rousey's comeback, and perhaps her UFC career, ended in a matter of seconds.
After all, it had been Rousey who built her reputation on the backs of unconscious opponents she had knocked out or submitted within seconds of the first round. Prior to her first career loss to Holly Holm in November 2015, she had finished off each of her previous four opponents in 66 seconds or less. Eleven of her 15 wins as a pro and amateur mixed martial artist came within the first minute of the first round.
On Friday night, the roles were reversed as Amanda Nunes overwhelmed Rousey from the opening bell at UFC 207, peppering her with right hand after right hand before referee Herb Dean stepped in and stopped the one-sided affair 48 seconds in.
It was likely a sad end to an amazing career of a fighter who will go down as one of the biggest stars in mixed martial arts history and the most transformative figure in female fighting.
Rousey looked as unfamiliar in the Octagon on Friday as she did during the week leading up to the fight, when she continued her media boycott and refused to talk to MMA reporters who first covered her when no one knew who she was. Rousey's attitude during fight week, however, seemed more manufactured than focused. She didn't appear to be herself. She seemed to be acting like the "badass" people expected her to be rather than the person we had come to know and love over the previous five years.
Fame, pressure and expectations have a way of changing people, and Rousey's transformation from invincible champion to sore loser was perhaps the saddest aspect to what should be the final chapter of her MMA career. Losses are inevitable in the UFC but how a champion handles that loss is often more telling than how they handle victories.
Do they face the same cameras and microphones that helped spread their message and build their brand when they were winning after a defeat? Or do they run and hide?
Do they take the opportunity to show how a champion can lose graciously by shining the spotlight on their opponent and quickly preparing for a rematch? Or do they disappear?
This wasn't how Rousey's dreams (or our dreams for her) were supposed to play out. But then again, what Rousey became wasn't really a dream so much as it was a byproduct of the success she dreamed of having in the Octagon. Becoming a global brand, endorsing everything from Reebok to Pantene, being in major motion pictures and hosting "Saturday Night Live" weren't really on her radar when she was living out of her car for a spell eight years ago.
Rousey's goal last year was to retire undefeated and seamlessly transition into the next chapter of her life where she would become the highest grossing actor in the world.
Of course, she never got to retire undefeated. That dream ended a little more than 13 months ago when Holm shocked the world with a second-round knockout in Australia. The defeat was so devastating and embarrassing to Rousey that she said she contemplated suicide. She thought she was nothing. She thought no one would care about her because she lost. She thought she was a failure.
She was wrong.
It's natural to feel like your self-worth is tied to your success in the Octagon when you are called "the baddest woman on the planet." You think the only reason anyone wants to work with you or talk to you is because you are demolishing your opponents in a matter of seconds. But the truth is by the time she suffered her first defeat, Rousey's celebrity had already transcended her dominance in the cage. She was no longer defined by being the UFC women's bantamweight champion.
That's almost impossible to fathom, but she hosted "Saturday Night Live," went on "Ellen" and "Conan" and was on the cover of magazines, all after she lost. That likely won't change after Friday's loss. Rousey's career in the Octagon may appear to be over but she won't disappear from the spotlight if she does choose to retire. She will transition into an acting career. She may even try to rekindle her invincible persona in the WWE and headline shows such as WrestleMania instead of UFC pay-per-views. But she's still a draw. UFC 207 attracted a crowd of 18,533 at the T-Mobile Arena on Friday, the largest crowd to witness a UFC card in Las Vegas.
The next chapter of Rousey's career is waiting to be written, but we will likely have to wait until her next appearance on a talk show to find out if she is finally ready to move on to that next chapter.
Following her loss, Rousey left the arena as she entered it on Friday, quickly and quietly.