Anyone who has ever read anything I have written about MMA knows that a recurring theme that I bring up in a lot of my writings is that I am grossly opposed to women’s MMA headlining UFC events. As last night marked not only the first women’s MMA fight in UFC history, which was presented as the headliner, I was on the fence as to whether or not I would even watch. Nevertheless, knowing what kind of a fan I am of MMA in general I did watch… and I was blown away by what I saw!
I’ll be honest, Machida vs. Henderson was the fight that I really wanted to see last night. The pre-fight build-up between these two former champions was massive. Twitter was on fire with pre-fight predictions, people wanting to see Dan Henderson grab a last shot at the title against Jon Jones before he finally throws in the towel (which this fight would springboard), people wanting to know if Machida still had what it took to remain elite in the division. After the first round between these two titans, the silence was deafening on twitter and the cheers at the Honda Center turned into boo’s! It was anti-climactic finish to what had been an otherwise stellar event. I barely cared to see who would have their hand raised (it was Machida by split decision, by the way). I was ready for bed. The main event not much of a concern.
Let’s just say that I am glad I stayed up. In one round Ronda Rousey lived up to her nickname, “Arm Bar”, and finished off Liz Carmouche to keep a hold of the women’s UFC Championship title at 135lbs (which just happens to be the only title for women). The fact that Rousey finished Carmouche in such convincing fashion wasn’t what impressed me. It was that one round of mixed martial arts that did. Watching Carmouche come out and take control of the fight early, almost submitting Rousey from behind… watching Rousey slip out of a nearly solid rear-naked choke… watching Rousey lay down some ground-and-pound and somehow magically switch over into an arm-bar position. I have to admit it was a beautiful spectacle of MMA at its finest. After having just finished watching a fight where two clowns basically danced around each other (well, Machida ran while Henderson tried to engage), it was a welcome relief.
The mark of a good fight is often dictated by how much it lingers in your mind afterwards. I couldn’t stop thinking about Rousey v. Carmouche for some time after I finished watching. I couldn’t stop wondering how Rousey got that arm-bar cinched in. How could Carmouche have let this happen, she protected it well – but, nevertheless she still couldn’t fight it off. Does Rousey really just have the perfect arm-bar technique? With seven fights to her credit, all by first round arm-bar I am starting to see that as true.
So, where do I stand now on women’s MMA? Listen, I still stand by what I have written in the past. I didn’t think headlining Carmouche and Rousey on a card with the first women’s MMA match in UFC history would be a good idea, and I still think it was a HUGE gamble. I haven’t seen the buy numbers yet for the card, (the event did apparently sell-out), but I can only speculate that they were likely decent for no other reason than curiosity… the same curiosity that drew me in. I will definitely be more open-minded to women’s MMA fights after watching this. It was not the first fight I ever watched with women going toe-to-toe, and I am sure not every subsequent fight will be the same, but it’s good for the sport and I will embrace it.
I still think there are depth problems. I still think many people will be resistant to it, purely for the sake that it is women fighting. However, I do think for every fan lost many will be gained.
To the UFC I raise a glass. Well done.
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