By Anthony L Hall
You can be forgiven for thinking that Mixed Martial Arts Fighting (MMA) owes its popularity to the testosterone-fuelled fists of fury of fighters like Anderson “The Spider” Silva, George “Rush” St Pierre, and “The Notorious” Conor McGregor. But that distinction belongs to the glamour-puss promotional antics of Rhonda Rousey.
Anthony L. Hall is a Bahamian who descends from the Turks and Caicos Islands. He is an international lawyer and political consultant - headquartered in Washington DC - who also publishes a current events weblog, The iPINIONS Journal, at http://ipjn.com
In fact, MMA paid its latest (and perhaps final) installment on that debt by guaranteeing Rousey $3 million for last night’s fight. By contrast, it guaranteed Amanda Nunes, the reigning champion no less, a mere $200k -- thereby disrespecting her professional talent and undermining the integrity of the sport.
To be fair, no fighter engaged in such promotional antics more than The Greatest, Muhammad Ali. Except that, from his days as an amateur Olympic Champion, Ali had long-established that he was much more than just a pretty face…
Of course, my title gives away the outcome of this Rousey-Nunes fight. But the real story here is how Rousey’s humiliating defeat vindicates my contention that MMA promoted her from day one as more eye candy (the better to attract fans) than bona fide
Rousey was all too happy to oblige; never mind the oxymoronic way she sought ring cred with Ali-like boasts and trash talk. I called her out 13 months ago in “Down Goes Rousey! Down Goes Rousey! Holly Holms Shocks the World!” November 17, 2015.
I’ve decided to reprise that commentary in its entirety because it telegraphed in so many respects what happened last night.
Mixed Martial Arts fighting (MMA) is arguably even more barbaric than cockfighting or dogfighting -- as Michael Vick might contend. Therefore, only the animalistic part of my nature explains why I am such a big fan. (At least boxing purports to be “the sweet science of bruising.”)
Because of its barbarity, some might find it ironic that MMA’s biggest star is a woman, Ronda Rousey. In fact, the media hype surrounding her in recent years was such that Homeric tales of her fighting prowess rivaled Lachaisean images of Kim Kardashian’s butt.
More to the point, one could not help thinking of Rousey as being to MMA what Mike Tyson was to boxing. For, like Tyson’s in his heyday, the only suspense her fights held was in the amount of time her opponents could survive before tapping out.
Then came Saturday:
Holly Holm scored a savage, utterly shocking headkick knockout over Ronda Rousey last night (Sat, Nov 14, 2015) in the second round of the UFC 193 main event, which took place inside Etihad Stadium in Melbourne, Australia.
It was a jaw-dropping finish…
Holm handed the unstoppable Rousey -- UFC’s most dominant champion and its biggest star -- the first professional loss of her fantastic career.
(MMA Mania, SB Nation, November 15, 2015)
Frankly, shocking is an understatement. But I hasten to note here that, even though her team rushed her to hospital after the fight, the wound to her pride must be the deepest one of all.
Of course, the reason this knockout was so shocking is that media hype had even MMA analysts spouting nonsense about Rousey being so domineering she could beat any male MMA fighter in her weight class. Remarkably, even Rousey bought into her own hype.
I, however, did not -- as this excerpt from “Women in Combat: Hail ‘Woman Power’ Rangers,” August 19, 2015, attests.
I have celebrated every small step women have taken over the years towards integrating professions traditionally reserved for men. And I could not be more pleased to celebrate their latest. Not least because, with all due respect to Tysonesque MMA fighter Ronda Rousey, it demonstrates that women are just as capable of performing in armed combat as men…
I reference Rousey in this context because, as reported on the August 12 edition of ESPN’s Sports Center, she’s now claiming that she can beat any man, including reigning boxing champion Floyd Mayweather, in a ‘no-rules fight’ -- whatever that means (knives allowed?).
But this makes a mockery of woman-power aspirations. After all, it’s one thing for a 29-year-old Billie Jean King to challenge a 55-year-old Bobby Riggs to a Tennis match in a ‘Battle of the Sexes.’
It’s quite another for Rousey to challenge Mayweather to a street fight. Especially given that her bull-in-China-shop style of fighting would be no match even for a female MMA fighter with just one half of Mayweather’s ability to stick and move and counterpunch; you know, the tactics journeyman Buster Douglas used to knock out invincible Mike Tyson.
Rousey clearly thinks she’s invincible too. But this one-trick pony will have to show me a lot more than ‘the armbar submission’ before I buy into her media hype.
Mind you, even though she too was undefeated going into this fight, I had no idea Holly Holm would be Ronda Rousey’s Buster Douglas. I just knew it was only a matter of time before a fighter with bona fide MMA (boxing) skills exposes her obvious weaknesses…
Meanwhile, Rousey could not have known what karma she triggered when she did this:
[Rousey], who was defeated for the first time in her career on Saturday, ignored the referee’s call to make the sporting gesture [of touching gloves with Holm] at the beginning of the encounter.
Instead the 28 year old turned away, put her fists up and prepared to fight.
(UK Daily Mail, November 16, 2015)
No doubt Rousey thought this opening stunt would enhance the badass image she has tried so hard to cultivate. But it only enhances my glee that Holm proceeded to knock her on her ass.
By the way, I fully appreciate that many of you probably don’t know your MMA from your HSA. But to get a sense of my schadenfreude over Rousey’s comeuppance, just imagine the glee you, or any sensible person, would feel if Donald Trump suddenly began polling dead last in the race for the Republican presidential nomination.
As it happens, though, wall-to-wall media coverage of the terrorist attacks in Paris spared Rousey much of the public humiliation she should have suffered – her deeply wounded pride notwithstanding.
Given that, I’m not sure why it surprised anyone last night when this golden goose laid another rotten egg:
Ronda Rousey’s future in the UFC looked all but over in Las Vegas as the former women’s bantamweight champion was blown away in 48 seconds by incumbent champion Amanda Nunes.
Fast heavy hands from Brazilian Nunes, a renowned vicious starter, stunned Rousey who was returning to the Octagon for the first time since her defeat 13 months ago against Holly Holm in a bid to reclaim her bantamweight crown.
Nunes was defending her title for the first time since demolishing Miesha Tate in July, and landed a big right inside 15 seconds, before an onslaught which met little resistance with the American battered to a standstill until referee Herb Dean stepped in to rescue the returning fighter.
(The Telegraph, December 31, 2016)
Here’s to Nunes, a fighter with bona fide MMA skills.
Good riddance, Rhonda!
Except that she deserves credit for setting herself up with millions to spend while licking her wounds in ignominious retirement….
Down goes Rousey…
* This commentary was originally published at The iPINIONS Journal on December 31