Beyond the Hype of Cyborg vs Rousey

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The age of “Dinocroc vs Supergator” and “Sharktopus vs Pteracuda” is upon us. But if you thought the UFC 190 Rousey-Correia fight was a mismatch and that a Cyborg vs Rousey fight will really settle things one way or another for the “Rowdy” one, think again. First off, a disclaimer:  this article is not for those who are bored by and uninterested in the technical brilliance of a Demetrious Johnson, for example, and who would rather thrive on the raw emotion generated by the “Rocky”-style extended beatdowns of matches like Junior dos Santos-Cain Velasquez. Here, let’s try to get beyond the emotion.

Hype is hype. Of course, the Bethe Correia fight needed to be hyped: witness Correia’s miraculous ascent in the rankings before the Rousey fight, all the talk about her awesome power striking, and finally, drama worthy of the WWF: “she will have her own come-to-Jesus meeting” because “she disrespected my friends.” Power puncher? Correia barely squeaked by Julie Kedzie, then beat up “Olive Oyl”-like Jessamyn Duke who has now lost her last three matches. In her next fight, Correia was mostly dominated in the first round before later catching Shayna Baszler against the fence; and even then windmilled punches at Baszler, who appeared to impersonate a stationary punching bag.

Now let’s look at the hype around Cristiane “Cyborg” Justino. She appropriated this nickname from her husband and it immediately calls to mind indestructible Arnold from “Terminator” and the 1800 psi punching Ivan Drago from “Rocky.” Phew! how can a mere mortal ever hope to survive in the ring with any “Cyborg”? Well, let’s see… Have we forgotten the triumph of technique over brawn when Fedor beat the giant Hong Man Choi? Yes, I know, Choi was a lumbering behemoth, unlike Cyborg. Then take a look at how kick boxer Jorina Baars controlled the mighty Cyborg. Oh, and let’s not forget how more recently T.J. Dillashaw twice outclassed the formerly “undefeated in 33 fights” Renan Barao with his multi-faceted superior technique.

Remember, it was technique that ultimately dethroned Goliath. Now, judo is a sport where weight distribution is subtle and critical. Can anyone seriously believe the hype that an intelligent world master like Ronda Rousey can’t defeat a clubber like Cyborg even with a 10-pound advantage? Here is where all the silly hype that she is “ducking Cyborg” will work for the promotion. A top judoka like Rousey has handled much tougher challenges than Cristiane Justino, I can assure you.

Yet what would be the point, unless you want to keep MMA on some schoolyard-fight level to “prove” who is king of the turf? Is it not enough for us to appreciate the condensed and brilliant techniques we have been fortunate to witness when Rousey beat Alexis Davis and Cat Zingano? Do we always have to dredge up some caveat like “the women’s division is so weak” or “she is only fighting cans?” I was always puzzled why Mozart’s popularity suddenly skyrocketed among the general public only after the inane film “Amadeus.”  Are we doomed to always first drag any great personage down to our own level in order “show” their feet of clay (laughable in the case of Mozart, who was never the gibbering buffoon created by playwright Peter Shaffer)?

Greatness is greatness. Period. Ronda Rousey has the skills to dismantle Cyborg; I would even wager Rousey’s striking would play a major role. But even if by some lucky punch (one in a hundred) Cyborg would defeat her, what would that really prove? That a big-boned fighter from a higher weight class who cheated and lied about her steroid use has now mugged a world class athlete? What possible technique, aside from clubbing fists, would viewers enjoy watching?

If a Rousey-Cyborg fight occurs, you can bet your boots the UFC will manufacture so much emotional “Rocky”-type hype around that event, that it will make yesterday’s hype in building up the Bethe Correia UFC 190 match seem like the Holy Talmud in comparison. It was mostly hype for Correia and it will be mostly hype for Cyborg. And undoubtedly this type of hype will be effective in crossing over far beyond the present MMA community, pull in numerous casual fans and make millions and millions of dollars for the promotion.

We will continue to argue over what weight this should be fought at, drug issues, “what-ifs” and lots of other details, and we will be talking less about any ‘sport’ and instead looking forward to a primal conflict, like YouTube viewers speculating over lion vs tiger fights.

But we will still be reluctant to face what wishing for such a ‘fight’ reveals about our own motives as spectators.


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