Rousey takes stocks to new heights
UFC 157: History Made in Anaheim
I remember having this conversation with UFC president Dana White at the end of 2005. We were at the Hard Rock Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas leading up to "The Ultimate Fighter 2" season finale. Media coverage was a hot topic because a month earlier the UFC had surprisingly denied access for virtually all of the sport's niche media to a pay-per-view card at the Mohegan Sun.
During our chat at the Hard Rock, White described the future.
Mainstream media coverage was on its way, he said. Just you watch. I argued that I didn't think it would ever happen. The thought of a UFC fighter gracing the front page of the Los Angeles Times or being featured on "SportsCenter" was too much for me to imagine. Let's just say I freely admit to not being a visionary.
White absolutely won that argument, and UFC 157 is testament to that.
While mainstream media started coming around on the UFC after TUF 1, this weekend's fight between Ronda Rousey and Liz Carmouche appeared to push UFC and MMA into a different dimension in terms of the way it's covered by the press and treated in pop culture circles.
The first female fight in UFC history prompted newly interested media outlets to devote resources they would not have before, White said.
And ones that had covered UFC in the past were suddenly providing tremendous placement in their publications. The L.A. Times and USA Today featured front-page stories. CNN played up the angle multiple times. HBO "Real Sports" picked up Rousey's incredible story.
"It was awesome," said White, who wasn't aware of one article that played up the event as a "freak show."
"It was a really cool moment for me to see how the media handled the fight," he said. "I always felt Ronda, because of where she came from and who she is, it really was cool. And the media agrees and they covered it. I just loved it. I can't tell you how much I really respected the way the media covered this fight."
All the coverage surely helped what White classified as the "most successful fighter ever in the history of women's fighting." UFC 157 produced a $1.4 million gate and trended toward a significant pay-per- view tally, leaving behind names such as Christy Martin and Laila Ali.
"This was a big night for the history of women," White said.
UFC 157 grades
A new old life. That's how things are looking for Robbie Lawler on this Monday after returning to welterweight, returning to the UFC and reminding everyone how dangerous he can be. I wrote off Lawler before the fight, thinking the lackluster version of the man who fought at middleweight the past couple of years would linger at 170. Instead, Lawler got to wrestling, and engaged in furious scrambles and grappling to fend off Josh Koscheck. At the age of 30, perhaps Lawler is primed for one more run.
Urijah Faber took care of business against Ivan Menjivar, securing an important win that confirmed "The California Kid" isn't a fighter worth dismissing just yet. Faber might not have enough to beat the best of the best, but he remains on the cusp of elite. Because of his promotability in a division that isn't so deep with budding contenders, don't discount the possibility that the 33-year-old former 145-pound champion will get another crack at 135.
Ronda Rousey, 26, did everything she was asked by Zuffa on the promotional end leading up to UFC 157. And she delivered like a champion in the cage, securing her seventh first-round armbar is as many pro fights. Quite impressive, actually. Rousey's charisma combines well with her eagerness to fight. She really is a superstar in the making so long as she continues to win. I only feel stronger about Rousey's chances of dominating 135 after her tilt with Liz Carmouche. She remained calm under severe pressure and proved that things don't always have to go her way for her to win.
Liz Carmouche did more than show up, which should make anyone who discounted her a bit sheepish. She enjoyed herself and was certainly featured to a wide cross section of interested parties heading into the bout with Rousey. And she very nearly pulled off a shocker. It wasn't meant to be, though, as Carmouche, 29, couldn't hold off Rousey and tapped out like the rest. Like Rousey, Carmouche did everything she was asked to do by Zuffa, and will be remembered for it. Expect her to feel some of that fan-favorite love for at least the rest of this year.
Court McGee, 28, looked terrific at 170 pounds en route to a unanimous decision over Josh Neer. He started fast, which goes against the grain he established at middleweight. This is a good sign for McGee, who was prone to giving up early rounds only to fight back and grind out wins at the end. Though McGee couldn't finish Neer during a dominant opening round, "The Crusher" closed strong to secure the win. He's a welcome addition to the welterweight division.
Lyoto Machida wasn't as definitive as he hoped to be coming into a three-rounder against Dan Henderson. Regardless, Machida, 34, has locked down the next title shot at 205, though this win probably won't inspire anyone to think he can beat Jon Jones. Machida's speed and quickness were effective weapons when he chose to use them; otherwise, there wasn't much offense to speak of.
Dan Henderson looked a little heavy, a tad sluggish, some might even say rusty. He was not sharp, that's for sure. Outside of stalking Machida around the Octagon waiting for the right chance to pop off a power right hand, Henderson wasn't particularly effective. I thought he made the most of the chances he got, and just eked out a decision. But there's nothing to really complain about when it comes to the result. Henderson doesn't seem interested in walking away, even at the age of 42. There will be intriguing fights for him in 2013; there always are.
Josh Koscheck, 35, wanted to wrestle Lawler, which made a lot of sense. He did for a bit, though not to the point of taking control of the action. Koscheck fell short of that, and the moment things went wrong there wasn't a chance for a comeback. Koscheck hasn't looked the same since Georges St-Pierre crushed his face in back in December 2010. He's a prime candidate to get cut, if the release of Jon Fitch is indicative of anything.
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