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My Profound Disappointment in Ronda Rousey

December 31, 2016 2 comments

[UFC 207 Spoilers]

The fight on December 30 between Ronda Rousey and Amanda Nunes did not go the way I expected. I always knew it was a possibility given Ronda’s history of partnering with poor trainers and her fragile mental state after her last lost. But she exceeded my expectations in the wrong direction. Since the fight was only 48 seconds long, there won’t be much technical analysis here, but I’ll expand further on my thoughts about the past of Rousey and the future of Nunes.

Rousey’s mother, AnnMaria De Mars, published a supportive blog post following her daughter’s second devastating loss. She lists some of Rousey’s past accomplishments and reaffirms her support for her daughter despite acknowledging some of her poor decision-making.

Considering Rousey’s poor footwork in the past and her recently seen failure to make any progress in this area, her number one poor decision is apparently staying at Glendale Fighting Club and training her MMA game under head coach Edmond Tarverdyan. Edmond is widely known for his identity fraud and sketchy bankruptcy filings. But more importantly, he seems to completely fail as a primary and striking coach.

Here’s Ronda’s corner audio with Edmond at UFC 207:

(If this gets taken down due to copyright, just Google “Ronda Corner Audio.”)

Edmond: Head Movement!

Ronda: You apparently never taught me that.

Ronda’s lack of head movement, lack of a defensive jab, and complete failure to prepare for an opponent who has plenty of footage on her and not a particularly dynamic game can only be the product of poor coaching. (Edmond’s “Nooooo!” was also the anguish of his career ending.) Ronda’s boyfriend, Travis Browne, and the only other prominent MMA fighter training under Tarverdyan is 1-3 in his last UFC outings. Ronda’s shadow-boxing is legendarily bad and Tarverdyan’s “Beautiful work, champ!” after round 1 of the Holm fight has been a long-standing meme.

Ronda trained a couple times with the Diaz brothers’ striking coach Richard Perez and this is what he said:

You know to be honest with you, I don’t know how she is being trained over there [at Glendale Fighting Club]. I know I trained her for a couple fights before and she did really good,” Perez recalled. “I mean I trained her really hard, she loved it. She said she never had anybody train her like I did. You know, I don’t know what they do over there so I can’t give an answer on how it’s gonna come out.”

 

Nobody ever trained her like Richard Perez did. Being the elite of the elite, I’m sure Ronda could choose to train at any place she wanted. Even if she didn’t want to leave California, Rafael Cordeiro over at Kings MMA (trainer of former champs RDA, Machida, and Werdum) extended an invitation for her to train with them. At this point, anything seems better than Edmond “Beautiful work, champ!” Tarverdyan. Ronda’s mom said she got Ronda good at Judo as a child by having her train everywhere. But now, as an adult, Ronda seems to content to live in the echo chamber of self-congratulatory nonsense and babying that only Edmond provides.

I still feel like Ronda could have won on the ground if she had the opportunity to clinch. As pointed out in my last blog post, Nunes still has significant holes in her ground game. Nunes also did not adopt Holly Holm’s style like I thought she might. She came out orthodox and swinging her power right hand as per usual. But simply being Amanda Nunes was enough. There were a bunch of blocks, parrys, and counters available to Ronda at the distance Nunes was throwing, but her lack of knowledge was profound and fatal in the fighting sense of the word.

Rousey is still one of my favorite fighters. Her wins over Meisha Tate, Alexis Davis, and Cat Zingano were some of the most exciting seconds in her career. But she does not have a championship mindset anymore. Conor McGregor, by contrast, has a championship mindset. When he lost to Nate Diaz in an embarrassing fashion, he took half a year and a break from media to tighten his holes, gameplan for his opponent, and rededicate himself wholly. Ronda Rousey took twice as long off after her embarrassing loss and did none of those.

Unless she switches gyms and completely revolutionizes her striking game, Ronda’s time in MMA is over. The future of the bantamweight division is Amanda Nunes and there’s a couple of interesting matchups for her in the rising stars. She’s beaten most of the top 10 already, but there’s a couple women left that could give her some trouble if the fight goes all five rounds.

The first is Raquel Pennington. At #5, Pennington has some solid hands and good takedown defense, only losing recently by split decision to Holly Holm. She is sturdy and consistent and I imagine could be a durable test for Nunes if she makes it into the later rounds.

The second is #3 Julianna Peña. She is the dark horse in the division right now and became the TUF champion by exceeding everyone’s expectations. She is well-rounded and has probably just as powerful as Nunes, if not just as accurate, striking. If she wins her fight on January 28 against #2 Valentina Schevchenko, she will no doubt be next in line for a title shot.

These are the women who will carry the bantamweight division now that Ronda is no more. Ronda will always be remembered as a trailblazer and the top paid women’s MMA fighter. She has contributed more to the sport than almost anyone and deserves to be recognized for her accomplishments. Like Ronda’s mom, whatever bad decisions she’s made about her training, I’ll always support her. I hope she has a bright future maybe teaching or doing seminars and I will always remember her as “Rowdy” Ronda Rousey.

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Why Ronda Should Win Her Comeback at UFC 207

December 27, 2016 2 comments

 

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On December 30, Ronda Rousey will make her first return to the Octagon since her devastating loss last November to Holly Holm. She is fighting the current champion, right-hand powerhouse Amanda Nunes. Now a lot of people are questioning whether Ronda still has it and whether or not she can handle the power and proficient grappling of Amanda Nunes.

Have no doubt, Amanda is a beast and a strong starter. She has very heavy hands and is definitely capable of a knockout. But I believe Ronda will win, probably by her classic armbar technique, and the main reason I believe this is because Amanda Nunes is not Holly Holm.

Holly Holm is a Southpaw, has excellent lateral movement, clean jabs, and has devastating headkicks. Amanda Nunes mostly stands Orthodox, has okay footwork, relies heavily on her right hand, and I can’t recall her ever throwing a headkick. But most of all, I think she is susceptible to the clinch. And that’s exactly how Ronda wins her fights: She bullrushes, she clinches, she throws, and she armbars.

Here’s the last fight Nunes lost:

 

Nunes’ fight with Cat Zingano was very telling. She lost handily over the course of all three rounds on the ground to a superior wrestler. She showed a willingness to clinch that could go right into Ronda’s game. She also made a poor decision to grab a leg at one point while she was on bottom and got reversed. When she was down, she stayed on her back and had trouble mounting offense from the bottom.

Now ATT is not a dumb team and they will be drilling to avoid the clinch at all cost. It’ll be interesting to see if Nunes can change her style and incorporate some better jabs to complement her powerful right hand. Holm’s straight left is what kept Ronda at bay for most of their fight.

Holly also did a smart thing to avoid the clinch where she pushed off the hips instead of wrapping her arms around Ronda.

 

It’ll be interesting to see if Nunes can emulate that move. In her Sarah D’Alelio fight at Invicta 4, which she also lost, she lost handily to double-legs and also in the clinch. There was a point in the Nunes-McMann fight as well where McMann almost had her back. Rousey almost never does wrestling takedowns but she certainly has advanced Judo trips and throws that Nunes will have to train with high level judokas to learn to defend. If her judo defense is anything like her wrestling defense, she’s in serious trouble.

Nunes did win the fight against wrestler Miesha Tate, but Meisha was overly cautious and her tentativeness to engage probably cost her some wrestling exchanges which she could have capitalized on. But Ronda Rousey is not Miesha Tate and her style is all aggression all the time. Rousey may have to endure some punishment for her takedown attempts, but her relentless aggression and Nunes’ sloppiness in the clinch go hand in hand.

In short, I believe if Nunes adapts to be more like Holly, she could win. But if not, (I’m leaning towards not because fighters often retain bad habits.) Ronda will clinch and win from there. Nunes is always capable of a knockout and she’s sure to have improved since her losses, but if Ronda can muscle through her mental blocks and play her usual game, I think it’s a game she can win.

Top 3 UFC 202 Diaz vs. McGregor Memes

August 22, 2016 1 comment

Credit to /r/mma on reddit.

1.

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UFC Vice President of Public Relations, Dave Scholler, lost control of Jon Jones back at UFC 178. He redeemed himself this night with Conor McGregor.

2.

I can’t figure out how to embed gifv, so click the link or here for a higher-quality imgur mirror.

3.

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Just adorable.

Another thing that happened is after Nate Diaz smoked a CBD vape pen on the post-fight press conference dais, Google searches for “CBD oil” nearly tripled.

 

 

Fallon Fox Has Already Lost

If you’ve been following LGBT issues at all, then you’ve probably heard about Fallon Fox.

She’s a professional mixed martial artist who caused a great deal of controversy when questions came up last March about her medical history–specifically that she’s a transgender woman fighting other women. The controversy garnered even more mainstream media coverage after Joe Rogan went on a rant calling her “a man without a dick” and then again when a UFC fighter got cut for telling a reporter that Fox was a “sociopathic, disgusting freak.”

Birth name unreleased, Fox had gotten sexual reassignment surgery in 2006 and has been on hormone replacement therapy for years before she started fighting.

Fallon Fox was later cleared by the Florida State Boxing Commission to fight women. And she is now scheduled to fight Allanna Jones in CFA 11 on AXS TV, May 24.

[Cat Zingano’s interview tact here was laudable.]

It was my interest in sex and gender roles that led me to what has become the only sport I enjoy regularly watching. (Who is this Ronda Rousey that made it for women in the UFC when the president said it would “never” happen? I found last year’s Tate v. Rousey and was immediately intrigued by the fast-paced grappling.)

But I struggled with this piece, not only because I don’t participate in WMMA, but because the nature of the sport can make it harder to argue what constitutes “fairness” in competition than in say, a non-contact sport like running. Example: If you’re wrestling and have a leg lock around an opponent’s waist, even adjusted for weight, I imagine that something like hip shape could matter, and it could matter a lot. I had a lot of problems trying to think of how to write an article that defends which characteristics are “important” in determining sex  in a way that doesn’t open up a slippery slope into scrapping sex segregation in sports all together.

All the major MMA news sites I’ve read have had an outstanding professional and nonjudgemental style when reporting the controversy. But the more critical opinions of the fans can be found in the comments sections of sites like CagePotato, MMAjunkie, YouTube videos, MMA forums, and r/mma.

Many comments are dismissible purely on their ignorance (dur, XX and XY, the end) and hate levels, but there is some civil discussion going on:

RedditFoxComment

Click to enlarge

Most of the arguments about Fox still having the “natural advantages” of men can easily be rebutted with existing scientific literature. The hormone replacement therapy makes the muscle mass and bone density arguments moot. Testosterone levels are going to be well within “female” range. I haven’t found any “muscle fiber type” literature that says women can’t condition train to “manlier” types. And any differences in neurology (reaction time, spatial awareness, etc.), are usually too small to make blanket statement about the sexes.

Not every sexual dimorphism can be neatly plotted on a bell curve, and even when they can, elite athletes are going to be the outliers.

That said, the amount of sexism and transphobia within the fighting community is overwhelming. Cris Cyborg has been getting unparalleled amounts of shit for her masculine physiognomy for years, so it was no surprise to see her name alongside Fox’s in comments like, “let the trannies fight each other.”  I don’t think it would be an exaggeration to characterize most MMA fighters, commentators, and fans as giant douchebags. The amount of vitriol, prejudice, and misinformation that has surrounded Fox is what is truly disgusting about the entire ordeal.

In re: “sociopathic, disgusting freak” on Sherdog’s “UFC Suspends Matt Mitrione”  the top comments are:

  • “Actually Mittrione makes sense.”

Upvoted  162 times. Downvoted 3.

  • “A man, sex change or not, should not fight a girl.”

Upvoted  130 times. Downvoted 3.

  • “Matt’s just sayin what everybody thinks!….except for the overly sensitive, politically correct sheeple.

Upvoted 93 times. Downvoted 3.

If Fallon Fox loses to Allanna Jones on Friday, she loses. If she wins, it’ll be toted as proof that male-to-female transgender means superior. Either way, she’s still going to have to face a bunch of judgment and questions about her legitimacy as a a woman and a fighter. She may have problems finding consistent sponsors. Major promotion agencies, which have pretty much all been bought by Zuffa (UFC), are going to want to avoid this controversy until the fans will it to happen. Fox is now 37, late for a budding MMA career, and transgender folk still have a long way to go before society matches them at current tolerance and understanding levels of homosexuals. By those metrics, Fox has already lost.

The silver lining in all this is that the Florida State Boxing Commission made the right call. At the end of all the quibbling about bone proportion and safety, there should be a segregation of men and women in MMA and Fox should be allowed in one of the two.

The doctors and the overseeing commission say that Fallon Fox is a woman. So fight on, Fallon “Queen of Swords” Fox, fight on.