‘Hendo’ coach: Ronda Rousey getting a ‘free ride’ and top billing over Dan Henderson vs. Lyoto Machida is ‘unfair’

Esther Lin for MMA Fighting

Dan Henderson's striking coach, Gus Pugliese, has gone on record expressing his disapproval of Ronda Rousey and Liz Carmouche getting top billing over 'Hendo' and Lyoto Machida at UFC 157, stating that Rousey hasn't even won the UFC title yet.

You knew it was bound to happen...you could almost see it coming a mile away.

There is one person who is sharing out loud the inner thoughts of perhaps many in the mixed martial arts (MMA) community in regards to the UFC 157 main event between newly crowned Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) women's bantamweight champion Ronda Rousey and Liz Carmouche.

That person is non other than Team Quest striking coach, Gus Pugliese.

Pugliese isn't too thrilled with the fact that Rousey, who has yet to officially win the UFC title (his words, not mine) is getting top billing over two established former champions in Lyoto Machida and Dan Henderson, whose striking he has helped sharpen.

The two long-time veterans will collide in the co-main event on Feb. 23, 2013 in the lead up to the first-ever women's UFC title fight between "Rowdy" and "Gir-rilla."

It's not that Pugliese doesn't think Ronda is a good fighter and doesn't deserve to headline an event, he simply feels she shouldn't be headlining over two men who have 'paid their dues' and helped build the sport of MMA in "The Dragon" and "Hendo."

Pugliese took to his Facebook account to express his disapproval (via Gracie Mag):

"Ronda is headlining UFC 157. Here is why I have a problem with that. Ronda is the champion of Strikeforce with 6 wins in less than 2 years of a mma professional career. That's impressive regardless of who she has fought. However, she is not the UFC champion yet. She still has to win this fight to get that belt. On the other hand, we have Hendo, who has also been the Strikeforce champion (never lost the belt), Pride champion in 2 different weight classes; he has been ranked #1 contender for the UFC 205 lbs, and #6 by many pound for pound best fighter. His resume is second to none, moreover, he is fighting a former champion, Lyoto Machida. Now why aren't they main event? Is Ronda a better market value? I don't know, but her fight could be quick as usual and we could be missing another historic 5 rds fight between 2 legends and possible hall of famers. I'm not saying she doesn't deserve to headline an UFC event, but certainly not this one.
...

Where I come from, there's a pecking order for anything in life. I believe in paying dues. In this particular case, ‘Hendo' and Machida paid their dues a long time ago. For someone new to come in and have a free ride just seems unfair to them and the whole sport they helped build."

While no one can argue it would have been nice to see Henderson and Machida duke it out for five rounds, tradition is tradition and you can't have a non-title fight receive top billing over championship match, regardless of one's disapproval of the order of fights.

In the words of UFC light heavyweight champion, Jon Jones, "Come on, son."

Nevertheless, the former Olympic judo Bronze medalist, Rousey, and the Invicta FC veteran, Carmouche, will make history in Anaheim, California as the first two female fighters to compete for the UFC.

UFC president Dana White has made it clear, regardless of which side of the fence your on as far women competing inside the Octagon, Rousey and women's MMA are here to stay and will likely headline another event for the promotion, getting top billing over their male counterparts in the years to come.

Fair or not, the sooner some begin to accept and learn to deal with it, the better.

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