Since relinquishing her Women's Bantamweight title to Holly Holm at UFC 193 back in November 2015, Ronda Rousey has been conspicuous in her absence from the UFC octagon.
Her first six months or so away from the organisation were to be expected as she recovered from what was a brutal KO defeat as well as completed various Hollywood projects.
Even when talk of a UFC 200 return was quickly quashed by UFC president Dana White, hope turned to a November of October 2016 comeback bout. Now, though, White has returned to hand out yet more disappointing news regarding the UFC's most high-profile female fighter.
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Speaking to ESPN's 'SportsCenter', the UFC boss revealed that Rousey had undergone a minor surgical procedure on Wednesday that could potentially push back her return to the octagon even further:
"I'm hoping we're going to get Ronda back this year," White explained on Thursday. “She actually … she just had surgery on her knee yesterday. Nothing serious, just get in there and scope it, clean it out a little bit."
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Many fans awaiting news on Rousey's return to action had begun to believe that the 29-year-old would be competing at the November 12 UFC 205 event at Madison Square Garden.
As the first ever UFC pay-per-view to take place in New York, it would have been the perfect occasion to mark her comeback and ramp up excitement in the event even further.
However, even with White describing Rousey's latest surgery as "minor", it is now looking increasingly likely that fight fans will have to wait until December, or possibly even January 2017 to witness the star's 14th UFC bout:
"She feels great, her spirits are great, she's been training so if she fights, I'm hoping she fights in either December," White told ESPN.
"If not she would probably fight at the like the New Year's show, beginning of the year or something."
With the UFC's other biggest name, Conor McGregor, also currently without a fight, White's Rousey update is another blow for the promotion's plans for 2016.
Nevertheless, with the female fighter now destined to be a full 12 months removed from her last bout when she does finally return to action, the hype surrounding her fight will be huge.
As for who she will face when the time comes, the UFC president has a simple way of deciding that 'honour':
"If Miesha Tate's still the champion, she'll fight Miesha Tate. Whoever has the belt is who Ronda Rousey will fight."
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