UFC 157 Anti-Breakdown: Ronda Rousey vs. Liz Carmouche
Thus far in 2013 I’ve made a habit of breaking down the major main events, and I’ve had fairly good success doing so. I had planned on continuing that trend throughout the year, but the headliner of UFC 157 presents a special dilemma to anyone who looks at fights for their competitive balance.
In the near decade that I have watched MMA, I don’t think I’ve ever come across a main event which has been more hyped for everything except the fight. I’ve still yet to read an article that actually breaks down the fight from a technical perspective, and for a main event of a major UFC card which is mere days away from happening, that is very strange. In fact, I’ve come across far more discussion about the Dan Henderson/Lyoto Machida co-main event than Rousey/Carmouche.
Are we in the MMA media missing something, or is this fight (and when I say ‘fight’, I mean the actual fight) really just that uninteresting from a stylistic point of view? Take away the novelty of it being the first Women’s fight in the UFC. Take away the media spotlight that Rousey has been thrust into. Take away the hard sell of Ronda and Liz as people from the UFC Primetime shows — which, as a sidenote, I have never watched for Men’s fights, and haven’t changed my tune for this one. When you do that, what are you left with? A fighter who is going to take their opponent down quickly, and armbar them quickly. That is what is going to happen 90% or more of the time in this fight. Yawn.
If you’ll take a quick trip with me down memory lane, we’ll look to the last time the UFC set up a fight that approached the outrageousness of this bout. UFC 153 featured the greatest fighter in MMA history, Anderson Silva, taking on a career C-level Light Heavyweight in Stephan Bonnar who is most famous for being in the right fight, at the right place, at the right time. Despite the fight being a mismatch on par with those put on during Pride’s heyday, there were people making the case for Bonnar to win. There were even respected MMA journalists making the case for Bonnar to win.
As an example (mostly because it was the first Google hit that illustrated my point) Mike Chiappetta penned a column over at MMA Fighting about how the stars could be perfectly aligned for Bonnar to upset Silva, or some crap like that. Many other people were talking about how you “can’t count Bonnar out. This is MMA.” Very few people actually picked Bonnar, but nearly as many weren’t willing to completely write him off. Also, just so we’re sure that I’m not changing my tune based on how the fight played out, here is the prediction I made on Sportsnet prior to the fight:
Silva by TKO (knees from the clinch), Round 2. Let’s set the record straight about Stephan Bonnar here. Not only has he never beaten a top 10 fighter, he hasn’t even fought a guy who was in the top 10 at the time. He has no business being in the cage with Anderson Silva. I expect that Bonnar will come forward, fail to get a takedown on Silva, and then proceed to get the Rich Franklin treatment en route to his first TKO loss not coming via doctor stoppage.
The reason for this diatribe is to show that the MMA universe tends to be very gullible and likes to read way too much into fights. This happens so much that people even go so far as to make cases that fighters like Stephan Bonnar can compete with fighters like Anderson Silva.
When we look at Rousey and Carmouche, there is no such feeling though. This fight is so lopsided that people don’t even want to “make the case” for Liz. Honestly, why should they? The UFC doesn’t even want people to believe she can win. She is still very much a neophyte in her MMA career, has lost to the two best fighters that she has faced — one of whom was submitted by Rousey in less than a minute — and simply doesn’t possess the skills or athleticism needed to be the person to beat Rousey at this point.
This doesn’t even have anything to do with Women’s MMA. I enjoy the female side of the sport when it is fought at a high level, which is still very rare. If it were Alexis Davis fighting Rousey on Saturday, I would have done a legitimate breakdown of the fight and enjoyed doing so. Davis has some of the necessary skills to combat Rousey, push her further than we’ve seen at this point, and perhaps even pull out the victory. I think that would also be one hell of a fight. Carmouche, while she may have a better story by being an ex-Marine and a lesbian and all that good stuff, simply does not have the same competitive ability at this point.
I’ve actually followed Rousey’s career quite closely, as she first came to my attention back in August 2010 when some friends and I on a forum were discussing Randi Miller’s MMA debut, and this “other” female Olympian was going to try her hand at MMA as well. As much as I’ve joked that I’m going to turn Saturday’s broadcast off after the main event of Henderson/Machida — and followed that up with some befuddled remark about why the UFC is going back to 3-round main events — I’ll be watching as Rousey drags Carmouche down, quickly advances position, and taps her. That still doesn’t make this an interesting fight though.
Give me a well-matched fight with no hype over a mismatch with nothing but hype any day of the week. Maybe in her second outing Rousey will actually get a fight worth talking about, rather than a sideshow to attract attention.
And that, folks, is how you anti-breakdown a fight.