WASHINGTON • Ronda Rousey broke her media silence on Saturday to thank her fans and ask for "some time to reflect and think about the future" following her devastating loss to Amanda Nunes at UFC 207 on Friday night.
"I want to say thank you to all of my fans who have been there for me in not only the greatest moments but in the most difficult ones," the 29-year-old said in a statement sent to ESPN.
"Words cannot convey how much your love and support means to me."
The former bantamweight champion continued: "Returning to not just fighting, but winning, was my entire focus this past year.
"However, sometimes - even when you prepare and give everything you have and want something so badly - it doesn't work how you planned.
TAKING STOCK IN THE NEW YEAR
I need to take some time to reflect and think about the future. Thank you for believing in me and understanding.
RONDA ROUSEY, former UFC women's bantamweight champion, addressing her fans after her defeat to Amanda Nunes.
"I take pride in seeing how far the women's division has come in the UFC and commend all the other women who have been part of making this possible, including Amanda.
"I need to take some time to reflect and think about the future. Thank you for believing in me and understanding."
She refused to participate in what are usually required promotional events with the media in the lead-up to UFC 207, her first fight in more than a year after she lost her title to Holly Holm at UFC 193 in November 2015.
Following Friday's upset, Rousey left Las Vegas' T-Mobile Arena without participating in the post-fight press conference.
Her media silence earned her criticism from many, including Nunes, who called Rousey's decision to sit out of media events "a very bad mistake" and also instructed fight fans to "forget about Ronda Rousey".
"I'm the best on the planet," Nunes said. "She's going to go do movies. Forget about her. She has a lot of money already."
Before Rousey provided her statement to ESPN, however, Rousey's mother AnnMaria De Mars penned an essay attempting to explain her daughter's actions after the loss.
"All of those who have criticised Ronda for taking a loss so to heart, for not just 'shrugging it off' don't understand that what made Ronda so successful is that she cares deeply about winning to an extent that I don't believe the average person can wrap his or her head around," she wrote on her blog.
One fan who appears to get it, though, is Kobe Bryant, who tweeted: "Instead of clapping for @RondaRousey defeat give her a standing O for putting the sport on the map".
The retired National Basketball Association star suggested Rousey's haters take a new look at the bigger picture surrounding the controversial star and recognise that she helped put women's mixed martial arts "on the map."
While Rousey was not the first woman to participate in the sport, she did carry the UFC's women's division since she became the first female fighter to sign with the promotion in November 2012.
Already holding the Strikeforce championship, she became UFC's first women's bantamweight champ in February 2013 and held onto the title until her surprise upset against Holm.
Along the way, she shot to superstardom, landing roles in three films, "The Expendables 3," "Entourage" and "Furious 7".
While she left her future with the sport open to speculation in her statement to ESPN on Saturday, many insiders have speculated Rousey will step away from the sport altogether to concentrate on her budding film career.
Ahead of UFC 207, Rousey herself had said it would be one of her last fights.