LAS VEGAS — Ronda Rousey was stopped 48 seconds into her comeback fight Friday night, losing to the bantamweight champion Amanda Nunes at U.F.C. 207.
Rousey (12-2) returned from a 13-month absence and never managed to get her footing against Nunes (14-4), who knocked Rousey off guard with her very first punches.
Rousey staggered and stumbled backward while Nunes pursued her and landed multiple shots. Herb Dean, the referee, stopped the bout with Rousey still on her feet, and Rousey briefly protested the stoppage before leaving the cage in her mother’s arms.
“Forget about Ronda Rousey!” Nunes shouted to the crowd. “She’s going to go do movies. Forget about her. She has a lot of money already.”
Rousey, a former Olympic judo medalist, was not competitive in the fight at T-Mobile Arena, her first since losing her belt to Holly Holm in November 2015, her first career defeat. Rousey became arguably the world’s most famous female athlete and a combat sports trailblazer as she rocketed to the top of the U.F.C., but a year away from the sport apparently did little to heal the holes in her game.
Nunes, a veteran from Brazil, claimed her belt with a violent stoppage of Miesha Tate at U.F.C. 200 in July, completing her unlikely ascent. Nunes lost three fights earlier in her career to opponents beaten easily by Rousey, but Nunes’s work ethic and toughness propelled her into the fight against Rousey.
Rousey had not fought since the November 2015 fight, when Holm stopped her with a head kick in one of the biggest upsets in mixed martial arts history. Rousey had risen to prominence with a series of one-sided victories, but Holm’s veteran striking made Rousey look amateurish.
Rousey nearly vanished from public view after her loss, taking time away from the gym and developing her acting career. After the bantamweight belt changed hands two times in her absence, Rousey agreed to return for a shot at reclaiming her title.
Rousey refused to promote this show, which may hurt her cut of the pay-per-view revenue, but it did not affect her guaranteed payday of $3 million, which matched Conor McGregor’s for the biggest publicized check in U.F.C. history.
Earlier, Cody Garbrandt (11-0) won the men’s bantamweight title, battering the champion Dominick Cruz (22-2) to earn a surprising decision victory in the U.F.C.’s traditional end-of-the-year show. Garbrandt used precise striking, multiple takedowns and remarkable charisma to win over the judges, who favored him by scores of 48-46, 48-46 and 48-47.
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