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Amid the what-ifs (Holly Holm vs. 'Cyborg'?), UFC's Dana White professes faith in Ronda Rousey

Amid the what-ifs (Holly Holm vs. 'Cyborg'?), UFC's Dana White professes faith in Ronda Rousey
Holly Holm, left, pulled off one of the biggest upsets in UFC history by defeating Ronda Rousey in November 2015 in Melbourne, Australia. (Quinn Rooney / Getty Images)

Many are soliciting their opinions and speculating about the future of Ronda Rousey, but someone who knows her best isn't among those envisioning doomsday scenarios.

Ultimate Fighting Championship President Dana White told The Times on Monday he has full confidence his once-beaten former women's bantamweight champion will effectively reconstruct herself.

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"She's on that path now, she couldn't be better," White said of Venice's Rousey, who confided on the "Ellen" show last week that she suffered suicidal thoughts following her stunning November loss to unbeaten former world-champion boxer Holly Holm by second-round head kick in Melbourne, Australia.

Before that, Rousey had won 11 of her prior 12 fights before the first round ended, most by armbar submission.

"I was there [in Melbourne], was right with her through the whole thing," White said. "Those thoughts went through her head. She said it, so it's true. You know her. She was devastated … that night felt like the end of the world to her."

Now, White said, Rousey "is back in a good place. She realizes it wasn't the end of the world. People can overcome anything. Bad things happen to us at certain points in our life. … You overcome it, you come out of it. But at that moment, it doesn't seem like you can."

White said he plans for Rousey (12-1) to return to the UFC octagon in the fall to fight the winner of the March 5 UFC 196 women's bantamweight title fight between Holm and former title challenger Miesha Tate at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas.

"[Rousey's] one of the most talented human beings I've ever met, a very good friend, a loyal person. She's worked very hard and busted her ... for this company, been very good to everybody close to her," White said.

"So I think she can do anything she wants to do, and I believe if she sets her mind to coming back – and obviously styles make fights, so she needs to realize what she did wrong in that first fight and fix it. But if anyone's capable of doing that, it's Ronda Rousey."

For now, White said he's paused the daily discussions with Rousey, who appeared in Sports Illustrated's swimsuit issue earlier this month, hosted "Saturday Night Live" in January and is due to star in a remake of the Patrick Swayze film "Roadhouse."

"I'm just leaving her alone," White said. "We talk once a week, I'm letting her do her thing. That woman worked her ... off [for the UFC] for three and a half years, I'm just letting her have a break here."

In the meantime, White has heard outsiders weigh in.

Respected boxing trainer Freddie Roach advised Rousey to stay far from Holm given the new champion's distinct boxing advantage and effective takedown defense. Former UFC light-heavyweight champion Chuck Liddell said he'd like to assist in Rousey's training. Rousey's mother has scorched the abilities of her daughter's trainer, Edmond Tarverdyan.

"Everybody always has an opinion," White said. "There's certain things I get involved in and certain things I don't. I don't get involved in personal life, or relationships with the trainer. That's not my place."

One scenario White promises is not under consideration is the creation of a 145-pound women's division that could allow Rousey to recapture her bantamweight belt and for Holm to move up and fight Cris "Cyborg" Santos, the imposing Invicta fighter from Orange County who has expressed resistance to demands she needs to drop to 135 pounds to fight in the UFC.

Holm's manager, Lenny Fresquez, told The Times on Monday that he has previously proposed the idea to UFC Chairman Lorenzo Fertitta of Holm keeping her bantamweight belt and fighting Santos at a 140-pound catch-weight. Fresquez said he didn't get a firm response.

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Holm "probably could [fight at 145], but we're not entertaining the 145-pound division. I think [Holm] will be at 135 the rest of her career," White said. "It's not even in our thought process."

But Holm's manager is highly skeptical that Rousey wants a rematch with Holm.

"That's my theory," Fresquez said. "I hope I'm wrong. I haven't been wrong yet.

"That's why I offered the ['Cyborg'] fight at 140. We'd take that fight if Ronda needs more time to make up her mind."

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