There are precious few athletes in existence who are so good at what they do that you can't help but admire them, regardless of whatever personal feelings you have about them. Ronda Rousey -- who absolutely crushed yet another opponent inside the Octagon at UFC 190 at HSBC Arena in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, last night (Sat., Aug. 1, 2015) -- is just such an athlete.
What Rousey has done is nothing short of remarkable, accomplishing a feat in mixed martial arts (MMA) that truly has never been seen. She is on a level so far above the rest of the top female fighters that it's actually kind of frightening.
To quote Ralph Waldo Emerson from his great essays on Uses of Great Men:
"He is great who is what he is from Nature, and who never reminds us of others."
We might want to modernize Emerson's body of work to include women, but the gist is still there. Rousey is so great because there is nothing like her. There never has been ... and perhaps there never will be. She is great because she is unique in her style, in her attitude, in her absolute mastery of the martial arts she employs to devastate her foes in a way that appears effortless.
Even if you dislike her you have no choice but to be inspired by her skill.
Or for those more into pop culture than classical literature:
"I'm not even mad, that's amazing."
At any rate, there are seven fights to get to on the UFC 190 pay-per-view (PPV) main card so let's get this started, shall we?
Who got top marks and who failed to make the grade this week? Find out in the UFC 190 "Report Card" below:
When Rousey made her way to the Octagon prior to the main event of UFC 190 and the camera showed the intensity in her eye,s the only thought I had was, this girl is going to fucking wreck Bethe Correia. Perhaps I didn't think it consciously or say it out loud, but Rousey had the kind of look in her eyes that you would imagine an assassin gets before going and snuffing somebody out.
Focused. Intense. Certain.
The crazy thing about Rousey is that although she started out as a one-trick pony -- albeit a dominant pony -- she has since morphed into a terrifying striker as well, making her a threat to life and limb for anybody stupid enough to think they can get into a cage with her. And when I say terrifying striker, I'm not playing the Joe Rogan hype game. In a division where only the toughest women get technical knockouts, often mercy stoppages, Rousey shut the lights out in Correia's brain.
In 34 God-damn seconds.
That makes it three women she's dispatched by strikes in her last four fights, all in the first round, and none going longer than 66 seconds. That's actually kind of insane.
As for Correia, she wasn't just outclassed, she was humiliated. This was worse than Cat Zingano rushing in and getting armbarred before anybody had time to start commentating on the fight. Correia said she'd batter Rousey on the feet, and instead was beaten like a rented mule before faceplanting in open-eyed unconsciousness in a way so horrifying that Twitter had the replay .gifs breaking the UFC 190 hashtag.
Correia also failed miserably to back up a single word of her delusional, disrespectful and frankly downright dumb talk prior to the fight. It's one thing to use psychological warfare as a weapon, like Conor McGregor did to Chad Mendes, and quite another to get your opponent so fired up that she clowns you in front of your parents.
The next woman to take on Rousey is more than welcome to believe she can win. That sort of wishful thinking is important, necessary even, for contenders to beat dominant champions, as Chris Weidman did to Anderson Silva. However, disrespect Rousey at your own significant risk.
You have been warned.
LOOKING AHEAD: Real quick now, I just have to say I have zero appetite to see Rousey squish a Miesha Tate underfoot a third time. And there's really no point. "Cupcake" had nothing for Rousey before, she has nothing now, she'll never have anything for the champion. The only fight anybody wants to see is Cristiane "Cyborg" Santos.
Full stop. No excuses. Make it happen.
The fact this made "Fight of the Night" is really just fucking sad and basically an Edson Barboza spinning heel kick to the balls for Reginaldo Vieira and Dileno Lopes, who put everything on the line to try and win the fight. I'm not sure what merits UFC saw in this fight other than two over-the-hill, slow, sloppy, sad-looking has beens on their last legs in the MMA fight game.
Don't get me wrong, both these guys are indeed "legends." I love Maurcio "Shogun" Rua and his wild go-for-broke style, just as much as I love the warrior spirit of "Little Nog." But, it's not 2005 anymore and these guys aren't even relevant in the context of a rematch, given neither possess much of their former prowess.
I mean, Rua's legendary chin looks about as shot as Chuck Liddell's did before he retired. He gets rocked and battered in every single fight he's in and after this many wars and this many miles his fighting age is about twice what it might say on his birth certificate.
Yeah, Rua won the fight, but he also got rocked again in the first round, just as he did in the previous two fights.
As for Nogueira, he doesn't get a free pass either. The man moves like he's pushing 50, has the takedown defense of a double amputee and still has that annoying "pawing" style in his stand up that turned UFC 156 fans narcoleptic. If not for cracking Rua's increasingly brittle chin in the first round, this fight might easily have been contender for worst on the card.
Honestly, I don't know what either man has left to prove. Neither have any shot of a last hurrah at the title and nobody wants to see them go out on their shields. If Testosterone Replacement Therapy (TRT) were still legal, then maybe. But, as it stands there are enough senior citizens with delusional aspirations in UFC as it is.
Time to send a few to the old folks home.
Man, was it ever agonizing having a The Ultimate Fighter (TUF): "Brazil" 4 Finale mixed together with a pay-per-view (PPV). I appreciate the fact that UFC tacked the fights on so that nobody was really actually paying for the fights in a literal sense, but time, as they say, is money.
And this was money down the drain.
Interesting marketing strategy tonight. Make fans suffer through this in order to watch Rousey's dominance. #UFC190— Rob Tatum (@RobTatumMMA) August 2, 2015
Honestly, I actually think Glaico Franca might have a chance of being a decent UFC fighter. But, nobody could have enjoyed watching Fernando Bruno fish for takedowns for 2.5 rounds until gassing out and giving up late in the third. So to recap Bruno's style: A suffocating fighter who continues to employ the same tactics, even when they aren't working, comes to a fight ill prepared for 15 minutes, and gives up with 14 seconds remaining in the fight.
I sincerely would not like to see him fight in UFC again.
Unpopular opinion time: Reginaldo Vieira didn't win that fight. In fact, I could see Dileno Lopes winning all three rounds. But, giving Vieria all three rounds is really just kind of twilight zone shit. MMADecisions.com scored it 9-8 for Vieira based on media watching the fight, but if you remove the bogus five Sherdog guys bloating the score and remove the MMAmania.com guys cancelling each other out, then you get a razor close tie.
Look, this was definitely "Ffight of the Night." The first round, which I gave to Lopes, had the two guys swinging for the fences, making crazy and reckless exchanges, and trading guillotine attempts. But, Lopes' harder punches, takedown and better submission attempt convinced me he won the first round.
The second round was a little slower as both guys were reluctant to keep the pace they set in the first round. It became apparent here that Vieira had brought the better cardio with him to the fight, but found himself following the pace set by Lopes who had expended too much energy in the first round. You could make the argument Lopes was up two rounds to none here.
The third round was Lopes' to lose and he was doing a great job up until about a minute left in the fight when he sought a guillotine and couldn't finish. Vieira took the opportunity to go what can only be described as total apeshit on Vieira, landing heavy ground and pound to finish the fight and perhaps convince the judges he hadn't lost the previous four minutes and two rounds (which he did).
Nevertheless, it's hard not to be happy for Vieira. Here's a guy who was defeated in the very first fight on TUF: "Brazil" 4 by Matheus Nicolau, only to sneak back in as a replacement for Giovanni Santos who became ill on the show. He's also a Flyweight, who went up in weight to take the opportunity to get intoUFC. A native of Sao Paulo, Brazil, this opportunity will allow him to leave his job as a "kitchen assistant" and focus on improving what looks to be a fairly decent fight game.
So good luck to him.
Ugh, can we just skip this one? "Big Nog" looked horrible in this fight. He looked slow, he looked old, and he looked like a man who has been hit too many times in the head. I am gratified to hear that UFC president Dana White will not be booking any more fights for him as I think nobody, even his fans, have any desire to see him get hurt anymore.
This was a fight you don't want to save to the UFC Fight Pass library. It might be best if we just forget about it. Nogueira staggered around the cage, zombie-style, getting battered by a man who admitted that before the fight he was so ill he had thrown up a dozen times, and who was battling injuries and wasn't in shape. And thank God for that because a healthy Struve might have added another highlight reel to the sad tale that is Nog's post-UFC 92 record.
Yes, Nogueira is a huge part of MMA history, as Joe Rogan helpfully reminded everybody on his walk to the cage, but a key part to the word history is understanding that it's in the past. We want to preserve those good memories and stop filling it with the kind we have from last night.
As for Struve, I get that he was sick and injured and out of shape but ... damn. He was putrid. He is also lucky he wasn't matched against a fighter in his prime because that chin was sticking straight up on his beanpole frame like a bell at a carnival. I've never seen a fighter with so much god-given genetic size and reach absolutely unable to understand how to exploit it.
It's like watching an 8-foot-tall basketball player unable to dunk.
Struve did land much better in the third round, where he did the majority of damage to Nogueira. And all things considered he is still relatively young and a win over Stipe Miocic is nothing at which to sneeze. I'd be interested to see if he can get past his medical problems, put in a good training camp, and a really impressive performance for once.
But, I'm not holding my breath.
The thing about a fight between two highly unreliable fighters is that whoever wins is going to look like he's turned it all around. Hence, the resurgence of certain fighters named Frank Mir. However, this wasn't really a testament to anybody's abilities. Palelei simply got caught and finished, as was likely to happen if he left the first round.
Palelei actually surprised me by going for a takedown right off the bat, looking to put Silva on his back where he could unleash his furious ground and pound. Most of the first round was spent in this seemingly futile endeavor until late, when Silva tried to hit an inside trip and put himself on his back. The Australian worked from the top, landing some bombs on Silva who was fading in a hurry before the horn sounded.
Ah the horn. Saver of so many lost souls.
Silva came back refreshed for round two and, as he has done so many times before, snatched victory from the jaws of an ass-whopping. Catching Palelei with knees, the big man covered up against the fence and allowed the Brazilian free range to tee off on him. It's actually kind of bizarre how Silva has this effect on people -- Palelei, Alistair Overeem, Travis Browne -- they all opted to stand there and cover up instead of trying to move away, get distance, pull guard ... anything except stand there and take punches.
So this puts a "W" back in the column for "Bigfoot," but I wouldn't celebrate just yet. Call it Gabriel Gonzaga syndrome. Without TRT, sooner or later he'll be back under a doctor's flashlight.
It's not hard to see why Brazilian striker Claudia Gadelha gave champion Joanna Jedrzejczyk such a hard time when they battled at UFC on FOX: "Dos Santos vs. Miocic" in Dec. 2014. The woman has excellent stand up, aggression and timing, making her a handful for any opponent.
Jessica Aguilar learned that the hard way in her UFC debut last night, enduring three rounds of beatdown en route to a 30-27 unanimous decision loss on all scorecards. Don't get me wrong, Aguilar demonstrated some incredible toughness over three rounds and actually seemed to be coming on strong in the third, but Gadelha showed she's on another level at the moment, getting to the punch first nearly every time and landing the counter when she didn't.
If you want to talk about consistency, Gadelha landed precisely 37 significant strikes in each round, for an event-high of 111. Nobody else was even close to her total, although you can understand why second place Stefan Struve's 92 may have been a little harder on the chin. The Brazilian was also flawless in her takedown timing, landing some absolutely beautiful throws and double legs, going four-for-four on the night by using the timing of Aguilar to drive through and put her on her back.
Aguilar earned a lot of respect despite losing in her debut, turning in 70 strikes (third highest) of her own and forcing Gadelha's chin to withstand some punishment as well. And although these were 115-pound women, those punches would not be mocked as pillows. The sound of some of them landing over the television audio were quite harsh.
The question now is whether Gadelha has improved enough in her lone fight since December to do well in a rematch against Jedrzejczyk, who destroyed two title challengers who strayed near her belt. It would seem this fight was a contender eliminator so she'll get her chance, but with five rounds to work I would be pretty tempted to say the champion takes this inside the distance this time.
Quick Hits From The Undercard
- Demian Maia (A) demonstrated his elite Brazilian jiu-jitsu against Neil Magny (C+), who actually survived longer on the mat than I thought all things considered. It's disappointing in a way, since Maia has nowhere to go but remain the gatekeeper, while Magny will fall back several rungs in the 170-pound division
- Patrick Cummins (B) recovered from some brutal punches that nearly closed both eyes and may or may not have knocked out some teeth (I'm not sure) to finish Rafael Calvalcante (F) in the third. "Feijao" gets a failing grade for once again showing up flabby, out of shape, and quitting when the going got tough. As he always does.
- Warlley Alves (B+) was impressive in submitting Nordine Taleb (C), who hadn't been finished in a fight since 2008. Alves controlled the bigger fighter in the clinch and on the ground, and proved he's got a dangerous ground game to go with his striking.
- Iuri Alcantara (B-) nearly demonstrated the dim-witted fight IQ of his brother Ildemar by trying to grapple a grappler in the first round. However, Alcantara battered Leandro Issa (C-) in the second and third rounds and may even have finished if he didn't start showboating in the third and standing up when he had Issa half KOed on the ground.
- Vitor Miranda (A-) showed that he's a dangerous man to grapple with as well as stand up against, weathering the wrestling storm by Clint Hester (F) and finishing him in the second round. Hester gets a failing grade for showing up with a terrible gameplan and a quitter's spirit.
- Guido Cannetti (B) did just enough to deserve the nod in a fight that Hugo Viana (C+) really gave away with stupid decisions at the wrong time. It's hard to believe he actually has a black belt in Tae Kwon Do based on his reckless style and propensity to get caught in every fight he's in.
That's a wrap!
I'd love to say I'll see you in September, but this relentless UFC schedule pushes ever onward with yet another card next Saturday as Glover Teixeira takes on Ovince Saint Preux in Nashville, Tennessee.
The good news is that Uriah Hall will be on the card taking on the extremely famous, household name that is Oluwale Bamgbose. So we've got that to look forward to.