Mayweather Rousey, More Similar Than Either Will Ever Admit

Prior to losing to Holly Holm at UFC 193, Ronda Rousey was a seemingly undefeated champion who would never get a fight with her biggest rival, recently retired undefeated boxer Floyd Mayweather Jr.

Rousey and Mayweather had both be engaged in a verbal feud, that begin more than a year ago, when Mayweather answered in an interview that he had never heard of Rousey. Mayweather’s comment seemed meaningless at the time, because it is entirely possible that the boxer may not have heard of Rousey.

However, the comment offended Rousey, who after hearing Mayweather’s immediately lashed back at the boxing champion.  The two athletes battled back and forth, with Rousey taking every opportunity to mention Mayweather’s history of violence. The argument between the two continued to play out in the public as Rousey took a shot at Mayweather at the ESPYs. Mayweather threw a verbal counter punch at Rousey, saying that he would like to see her make as much money as him and sell as many pay-per views. Rousey quickly responded by saying she makes more money per second than Mayweather does.

As much as these two people appear to dislike each other, they could not be more similar. From their sizes, Olympic medals and family, the similarities between the two, are reminiscent to the romantic comedy where the man and women refuse to admit how similar they are until they finally hook up in the last 30 minutes of the movie.

Rousey was born into a judo family. Her mother AnnMaria De Mars was the first American women to win a gold medal at the World Championships. Mayweather was born a decade earlier into a family of boxers. Mayweather’s father and two of his uncles both had careers as boxer and later trainers. At a young age Rousey and Mayweather both started training in their family’s respective sport. Both Rousey and Mayweather received training from their parents, as Rousey trained with her mother and Mayweather trained with his father. Mayweather would also be trained by his Uncle Roger, following his father’s incarceration from 1992 until 1998.  For Rousey it was much harder to deal with the loss of her father. When she was just eight years old, Rousey’s father committed suicide upon learning that he would eventually become a paraplegic following a sleighing accident.

Rousey and Mayweather continued to rise through the amateur rankings, both qualifying for the Olympics as teenagers. At 19, Mayweather qualified for the Atlanta Olympics controversially winning a bronze medal, after he lost a questionable decision in the semi-finals. While training for the Olympics, teammates gave Mayweather his first nickname of “pretty boy” for his exception defensive style that kept his face from being seriously damaged. Rousey first qualified for the 2004 Athens Olympics, and then again in 2008’s Beijing Olympics, where she like Mayweather would come home with a bronze medal.

Mayweather started his professional career in the October following the Atlanta Olympics. Within the first 20 months of turning professional Mayweather won his first 17 fights, with 13 knockouts before receiving his first title shot.

Rousey earned her first title fight after winning her first four fights by submitting her opponents with an arm bar within 50 seconds of the fight starting. Rousey claimed her first title at 25, submitting rival Miesha Tate with an arm bar in the final minute of the first round. Rousey would defend her title for seven consecutive fights, winning all by submission or knockout, with only one fight advancing past the first round.

Mayweather would win his first of four lineal titles at 22, stopping Genaro Hernandez in the 8th round to win the lineal super featherweight title. For the next 17 years, Mayweather emerged as the sport’s biggest pay-per view. Inside the ring, there many have never been a better defensive fighter, who excelled in not getting hit and responding with quick counter punches. In the late stages of Mayweather’s career, he was able to win easy decision after decision, as his opponents routinely had their lowest punch connection of their career. When Mayweather retired, he had 49 victories and zero defeats, winning the lineal title in four weight classes.

As Rousey emerged as the UFC’s biggest pay-per view star, it’s hard not to compare the outgoing personas that she and Mayweather used to sell themselves as the bad guy in order to sell their opponents as credible foes with the chance of beating them.

Prior to fighting Oscar De La Hoya, Mayweather left his previous promoter and emerged with a new persona and nickname. Gone was the “pretty boy,” title that Mayweather had used since the Olympics. Mayweather began introducing the world to Floyd “money” Mayweather, a brash cocky and confident fighter, whose only concerns were money, winning and showing everyone how much money he had. Mayweather would enter the ring against De La Hoya, wearing the colours of the Mexican flag and sporting a sombrero. Mayweather had successfully turned heel and people were willing to pay in the hopes of seeing someone beat Mayweather.

Mayweather would tone his approach down slightly for his next 11 fights, but the fight was already lit by the media who did the promotions for him. After taking a 21 month retirement, Mayweather returned, replaced by Manny Pacquiao as the sport’s biggest star.

For five years, the media was wet at the mouth for a fight between the two men. But for five years, the two men would not fight, as neither side could agree on the purse split, drug testing and location. Mayweather took most of the media’s blame for the fight continually falling through as the media painted the picture of Mayweather being scared and ducking Pacquiao. The five years of media attention helped make Mayweather’s star even bigger as the sport’s biggest bad guy.

During the prime of his career, Mayweather was sentenced to serve an 87 day jail term for domestic violence. Feminist media members continued to talk about Mayweather. The media continued criticizing him for the domestically violence history and questioned how he could be allowed to fight. The media was seemingly unaware that they were making him even more money to fuel his “money” persona.

All the negative press Mayweather garnered only made the public thirst for him to lose even greater. Mayweather continued to promote himself as an undefeated champion who would not and could not be beat. Signing a $30 million per fight deal with Showtime, Mayweather continued to live in the “money” persona. Before his last few fights, Mayweather started promoting himself, as “TBE,” an acronym for the best ever. With media attention at a fever pitch, and domestic violence a hot topic following the Ray Rice video, Mayweather’s celebrity was never bigger.

After five years of negotiations, a title fight was finally agreed to win Pacquiao. The media whirlwind took over. The public bought into the fight of the century as casual sports fans were unsure who would win in a fight with the sport’s two pound for pound kings. The public bought into the hype believing Pacquiao could finally end Mayweather’s winning streak. A record 4.4 million pay-per view buys, shattering the previous world record for 2.6 million for Mayweather’s fight against Saul “Canelo” Alvarez.  Mayweather would walk away from the fight, with an easy decision victory and an over $200 million paycheck.

Rousey’s career arc was similar to Mayweather’s. However, Rousey’s shift to the “money” persona of Mayweather was when she joined the UFC. When Rousey joined the UFC, the promotion machine took over. People loved to love Rousey as much as they loved to hate her for her brash cocky attitude. Rousey declared that she would win all of her fights and retired undefeated as the greatest of all-time.

The media wanted to portray Rousey as a trailblazer, a women leading the feminist movement, breaking ground in what had traditionally been a man’s world. However, Rousey would not play the role the media wanted her to play. Rousey starred as one of the coaches on the Ultimate Fighter again against her rival Tate. Rousey can off poorly and very unlikable for her approach and coaching techniques with her team.

Tate and Rousey would have their rematch at UFC 168 in the co-main event. As expected, Rousey won by arm bar, but was pushed in the third round, the deepest she has ever gone in a fight. As Tate rose from the mat, she looked to shake the hand of Rousey, who blew her off, refusing to shake hands. Despite the lack of sportsmanship, Rousey’s star continued to rise, and would receive a boost by taking shots at Mayweather for his history of domestic violence. Again, Rousey would be pushed as a feminist hero. Rousey began to cross over into the mainstream media, and began her transition into acting.

Rousey was everywhere in the media. However, the attention and fame had caught up to Rousey. She was overexposed, she was exhausted. At the weight-in for her title fight against Holm, the traditional stare down got a little too close for Rousey’s liking. The media exploded, wanting to see what Rousey would do next. Holm who seemingly did nothing wrong, was the target of scathing Instagram posts by Rousey who called her out despite her over reaction. Holm remained calm and confident.

With Etihad Stadium filled in Australia, and 1.1 million pay-per view buys, all watching were witnesses to the biggest upset in UFC history. Rousey was thoroughly dominated. Interestingly, Rousey predicted how exactly Holm would defeat her on Jimmy Fallon. Holm frustrated Rousey with his boxing combinations, badly damaging the face of Rousey.  Rousey had no answers for Holm who countered all of her moves. Seconds into the second round, it was all over for Rousey, who was knocked out with a vicious head kick.

The loss ended any further comparison of Rousey’s record to Mayweather’s. However, it was Mayweather who seemingly ended the feud. In a rather unexpected turn of events, it was Mayweather who took to social media offering to help coach Rousey in boxing to defeat Holm in a rematch. Tentatively, the Holm Rousey rematch is scheduled for UFC 200 in July 2016. With Rousey stating if she loses again to Holm, she will retire.

 

UFC 194: Aldo – McGregor Preview

Less than a month ago, UFC fans were witnesses to the biggest upset in the young sports history as Holly Holm defeated the then seemingly unbeatable Ronda Rousey.

Fast forward ‎to December 12th and the UFC is back on pay-per view with several of Mixed Martial Arts biggest stars and biggest national fan bases.

The pride of Ireland Conor McGregor returns to the octagon to face Brazilian Jose Aldo in a title fight to prove who the undisputed best at 145lbs is. The fight was originally supposed to take place July 11th at UFC 189, but was put on hold when a rib injury, forced Aldo to pullout on June 23rd.

With only two weeks until a major PPV, UFC President Dana White scrambled to find an opponent for McGregor. The last thing White wanted to do, was pull McGregor off the card after a convergence of prideful Irish fans purchased tickets and travelled from Ireland to Las Vegas. On short rest and without a full training camp, Chad Mendes agreed to fight the charismatic, trash talking and power punching McGregor.

Mendes forced McGregor to the ground with his superior grappling skills, doing enough to earn the round on the judges’ scorecards. White, setting cage side sat their terrified that his golden goose McGregor may lose and prevent any future Aldo-McGregor fight. A lose by McGregor could have costed the UFC a tens of millions of dollars. A victory by Mendes would set up a trilogy fight between himself and Aldo. A fight that would do poorly on pay-per view in comparison to the potential million plus buys that UFC 194 is expected to do.

The second round followed a similar script to the first. As the second round inched closer to conclusion, Mendes had again taken McGregor down and was on his way to winning the second round. As Mendes made an attempt at ending the fight with a submission, McGregor was able to escape. As soon as McGregor got to his feet, he land a thunderous blow to the head of Mendes, followed by several other big punches. The referee ran in, waived his hands and awarded the victory to McGregor by knockout. A sense of joy and relief entered the mind of White, as he wrapped the interim Featherweight title around the waist of McGregor. It was at that moment, White knew his organization was guaranteed a multimillion dollar payoff at UFC 194.

In the lead up to the first fight, McGregor took every opportunity he could to become the center of attention. Wearing expensive suits and aviator sunglasses, McGregor is a heat generating machine, in the model of pro wrestler Ric Flair. Like Flair, McGregor believes he is the best there is and will look into every camera and tell you so, if you like it or not.

In the promotion leading up to both pay-per views, McGregor’s garnered excessive attention for his soundbites and camera stealing antics.  None of McGregor’s antics garnered bigger eyeballs than when he stole the title belt from Aldo and raised it above his head.  In front of a pro McGregor crowd, he receive an enormous cheers. The events provided a complete contrast to the prior week in Brazil, when he was booed relentlessly.

In the press conference to promote UFC 194, McGregor’s comments garnered a seven minute long YouTube video produced by the UFC. One of McGregor’s comments made mention of how happy he believed Aldo’s girlfriend must be to know that Aldo is hitting the jackpot by fighting McGregor. McGregor proclaimed himself biggest box office draw in the sport and a multimillion dollar paycheck to anyone who fights him. McGregor went go on to describe how Aldo’s girlfriend must have put on her “red panties” to celebrate the two cashing on off the back of McGregor.

As hard as Aldo tries to no-sell all of McGregor’s antics, it is easy to see that he has become agitated by McGregor. Aldo has not lost a fight since November 2005, when he stepped up in weight to lightweight. As a featherweight, Aldo has never lost. However with McGregor’s work on the mic, Aldo has lost his cool on multiple occasions. There may be nothing Aldo hates more than being forced to sit there and listen to McGregor run his mouth. When the fight finally arrives, there will be a sense of relief for Aldo. At that point, Aldo will finally be able to get his hands on McGregor and leave him speechless.

There may not be two people in sports who dislike each other as much as Aldo and McGregor. Aldo cannot wait to execute this technical advantage on McGregor. However, it is McGregor that possess the great equalizer. McGregor undergoes one of the biggest weight cuts prior to his fights to make the featherweight limit. After weigh-ins, McGregor rehydrates and enters the octagon the bigger fighter but a margin. The extra size of McGregor makes his power advantage even bigger. If he can hand his punches, he can finish any fight.

On December 12th, the wait for both will be over. For both fighters, they have something to prove. For McGregor he is trying to prove he can fight as well as he can talk. While Aldo is trying prove his reign atop the featherweight division will continue. Both will be backed by massive fan bases that flown in from separate continents to get to Las Vegas to support their fighter. In the Octagon, Aldo will have the edge in the grappling game, while McGregor will be the bigger man, with superior power. By the end of the night, ‎will exist the Octagon as the undisputed Champion. In the days follow, White will be sitting in his office counting the millions he has generated.

 

Ronda Rousey’s Dreams At Perfection Over

Ronda Rousey began her career with one goal, retire undefeated as the greatest women’s mix martial artist of all-time.

That dream is now over for Rousey. Holly Holm entered the fight undefeated, but a 14 to one underdog who many did not think had a chance of winning. However, Holm shocked the world with her second round technical knockout victory over the UFC’s undefeated champion.

Since bursting onto the MMA scene Rousey gained fame for her arm bar submissions and quick finishes. Through her first 12 fights, Rousey easily defeated every top fighter in the division in mere seconds. Many experts predicted a similar victory for Rousey against Holm at UFC 193.

When Holm was announced as the next title challenger for Rousey, many were stunning and disappointed, believing that Holm was unworthy of a title shot. Holm proved the experts wrong. Holm and her trainers developed a game plan and executed it to perfection. Using her background as a professional boxing and kickboxer, Holm was able to take advantage of her footwork and punching power. In the first round Holm was able to land precise strikes that had Rousey stunned and left with a bloody nose by the end of the first round.

As the second round opened, it was evident early that Rousey had not recovered during the minute break between rounds. Holm continued to land hard shots with her left hand that sent Rousey to a knee. Rousey quickly rose to her feet, only for Holm to connect with a devastating kick to her head. At that point it was all over for the undefeated champion. Rousey instantly fell backwards landing on the octagon’s canvas. Referee Herb Dean ran into hovering over Rousey prevent Holm from landing another more punches to the downed champion and waved off the fight.

Holly Holm was the new welterweight champion, as she circled the ring. Holm’s celebration appeared to be a mix of joy, confusion and disbelief as she had beaten the seemingly unbeatable champion. The Melbourne, Australia crowd went crazy as they knew they were all witnesses to the greatest upset in UFC history. While Rousey, exited the stadium in an ambulance on her way to a local hospital.

A rematch is the obvious route to go for the UFC which could headline UFC 200 next year. If Rousey defeats Holm in the rematch, the rivalry could turn into a trilogy. However, that fight is only possible if Rousey chooses to continue her UFC career fulltime. Many industry experts had predicted before the fight that Rousey’s fights would become fewer and fewer each year as she focuses on her transition to acting. Some experts had gone as far to say Rousey had three fights or fewer left before she would retired.

But now, that has all changed. The future of Rousey is completely up in the air. While the career of the 34 year old undefeated champion Holm has reached a whole new level.

NBC Scores A Knockout

March 8, 2015

NBC scores a knockout with its debut broadcast of Premier Boxing Champions, bringing the sport back to national primetime television.

From the very beginning of the 8:30 broadcast, NBC made it abundantly clear how serious the network is about its decision to invest in boxing. NBC’s broadcast achieved its goal of generating interest in its Saturday night programing.

For NBC, the premier episode of the series could not have come at a better time for the network. Interest was surely peaked with news that the sports two biggest stars agreed to fight on May 2nd.

The broadcast started with an opening credits in the mold of NBC’s very successful Sunday Night Football. The opening video was successful in communicating to viewers exactly who the boxers were and that they are in fact stars in a sport that desperately needs more.

NBC and the MGM Grand made an interesting decision to have Al Michaels, the multiple time winning Emmy broadcaster’s mic live throughout the arena generating crowd reactions to his every word. Michaels provided the show with instant credibility to tell casual viewers that NBC’s venture into boxing is a big deal that you need to watch.

After a video promoting one of the events two main events, Michaels brought out boxing Hall of Famer Sugar Ray Leonard. Leonard was eager to promote the important of boxing being on network television primetime for the first time in 30 years. Leonard articulated to the audience how important for the sport of boxing being on primetime is. The point is even more essential with the commonly held believe among people who are not fans of the sport that boxing is a dying form of competition.

Michaels and Leonard would go onto discussion the first bout featuring former three division champion, and cocky loud mouth Adrien “The Problem” Broner. Before throwing to Laila Ali in a pre-recorded interview with the challenger John Molina Jr. Ali, the daughter of boxing legend Mohammed, came off as a star instant. The charisma and knowledge of Ali jumped of the screen whenever she was on camera. In her interview with Molina, the boxer promised a slugfest and again promoted the importance of network television.

Calling the action for NBC was Marv Albert. The network choose to introduce him by showing the last call Albert made of boxing on network television. The decision to do so, aged Albert badly. However, Albert’s performance was solid throughout the broadcast. Albert successfully called the action within the squared circle while displaying great chemistry with his colour analyst Leonard. The ability of Albert and Leonard to successfully navigate and articulate relevant questions and answers to the viewers, greatly improved the broadcast’s informative nature to casual boxing fans who may have been tuning into to view the sport for the first time in years. However, Albert did show some rust calling boxing as his calls of the action inside the ring were lacking at times throughout the night.

Broner and Molina opened the action in the ring. Both fighters came down a rather ugly and seemingly unnecessary catwalk on their way to the ring. NBC seemed to dictate that neither fighter come out with any member of their corner or entourage. While also tuning down the entrance music subduing the effect of the entrance. Broner entered the ring the heavy favourite. While Molina promised to “Bring the Problem.” Molina was the heavy crowd favourite as the antics of the younger Broner have turned off many fans making him one of the sport’s biggest villains.

As the bell rung to signal the start of the bout, Broner, usually a slow starter got off to an impressive start. Broner decisively took the first two rounds with a very cautious Molina, who could only land a single punch in round one. Broner’s trainer Mike Stafford had little respect for Molina. “Molina is a one punch fighter. We aren’t going to lose to a one punch fighter.” Said Stafford.

Molina won his only round of the night according to unofficial scorer Steve Farhood in the third as he put together a powerful combination. The three punch combo proved to be one of the few outburst of offense that Molina had on the night. The most impressive part of Molina’s game Saturday night was his trunks. On each leg, Molina had an airbrushed picture of the face of one of his friends who recently passed away.

From round four onward till the conclusion of the 12th and final round, Broner completely outclassed his opponent. It appeared Broner had toned down his in ring antics until the eighth round while tied up with Molina on the ropes, Broner stuck out his tongue began to dance in a clownish fashion and continued to trash talk Molina. In the 10th round Albert questioned former referee Steve Smoger about referee’s Robert Byrd’s performance in the fight. Smoger replied, “It’s not a tough fight to officiate. It’s a tough fight for Molina.”

The fight proved to be disappointing for both the audience and the network who were surely both hoping for a knockout. The bout proved to be rather boring as two of the three scored all 12 rounds for Broner. In a post-fight interview, Broner discussed the crowd who booed him the entire night. “Last time I fought for the crowd I lost.” Broner was quickly cut off before he could get the network into any trouble with a live mic in front of him.

Between fights, NBC showed another phenomenal video promoting the next episode of PBC on April 11th featuring Lamont Peterson and Danny Garcia. The video outlined the rise from humble beginnings of both fighters.

The main event featured two fighters looking to lay claim to the title or at least enter the conversation of top welterweight not named Floyd Mayweather Jr or Manny Pacquiao. NBC billed Robert Guerrero as a fighter who had only lost once in the past nine years. That one loss to Mayweather. While Thurman was depicted as an up and coming power punching star, who is stepping up in class from his former opponents to face Guerrero.

As with the first fight, vignettes ran telling the story behind each fighter. Guerrero’s video package was based on his family as much as it was his career as a boxer. The video outlined how fighting is a Guerero family tradition as Robert is a third generation fighter with his father training him. But Robert was quick to praise his wife Casey as the best fighter within the family. Casey is in her fifth year of being cancer free following her victory over leukemia. Casey required a bone marrow transplant during which time Robert took a hiatus from his boxing career.

The video of Thurman was used to demonstrate both the speed and power Thurman poses. After the video concluded B.J. Flores, who was used well the entire night interviewed Thurman about how the fighter uses visualization. Thurman gave an excellent, well-articulated description of exactly how he saw the fight going. Thurman visualized himself knocking Guerrero out, however said he did visualize a plan b, in which he would use his skills as a boxer to lead him to victory.

The introduction of both fighters left the viewer knowing that the crowd was going to be behind Thurman. Kenny Bayless was the third man in the ring and was given a strong review by Smoger for his refereeing throughout the bout. Albert continued to note how Thurman was very inexperienced when it came to fighting left handed fighters.

Thurman got out to a quick start winning the opening two rounds. The early rounds featured fast paced action where both fighters landed powerful punches. In the second round, Leonard noted how it appeared Thurman had hurt Guerrero with one of his powerful right hands. In the third round, Thurman and Guerrero’s head collided accidentally and left Thurman with a large welt on his forehead.

Throughout the bout, Thurman displayed both the speed, strength and defense that has made him such a highly touted prospect. The head movement of Thurman made him a difficult target to land punches on throughout the first half of the fight.

As the fight entered the seventh round the action had noticeably slowed from the earlier rounds. However, in the ninth round with his welt noticeably increased in size, Thurman was able to send Guerrero to the canvas. As the cameras began to zoom in and focus on the face of Guerrero as Bayless gave him the ten count, blood was streaming down from his eye. Guerrero beat the count before being saved by the bell before Thurman had a chance to finish the fight.

The knockdown seemed to energize Guerrero who seemed out of the fight following the knockout. Despite taking a powerful combination from Thurman, Guerrero was able to respond back with his own power punches. As Guerrero continued to fight and refused to back down the crowd turned it allegiances and loudly backed Guerrero.

However, it was all too late for Guerrero. Guerrero kept coming in the eleventh and twelfth rounds. As he was too far behind to win the fight by decision. Guerrero did stun Thurman in the final round but could not score the knockout he needed to win the fight.

As the bell rang to conclude the action on NBC, the judgers presented their scorecards. Thurman won unanimously by the scores of 120-107, 118-109 and 118-108. The victory cemented Thurman as a top contender within the 147lb division.

Some quick notes. I scored the first fight 119-109 in favour of Broner. With the victory, Broner would appear to be in line for the winner of one of two fights. Broner could challenge either winner in the April 11th PBC main event featuring Danny Garcia and Lamont Peterson. Or Broner could challenge the winner of Ruslan Provodnikov and Lucas Matthysse.

In the second fight I was generous and gave the last two rounds to Guerrero. I had Thurman winning 116-111. For Guerrero getting a next big fight will be an interesting proposition. Guerrero is positioned as an entertaining fighter but not an elite caliber fighter. A matchup with former Mayweather opponent Marcos Maidana could provide boxing fans with the most entertaining matchup.

For Thurman, his next opponent will likely be a fighter considered to be in the top five rating of The Ring Magazine’s welterweight division. A matchup with another young up and coming such as Kell Brook or Shawn Porter would be an excellent matchup. However both fighters are currently signed for upcoming fights. Two fighters who are not signed for a fight that would be interested in a fight with Thurman include Juan Manuel Marquez and Amir Khan. With Thurman receiving mainstream exposure, a Marquez matchup could headline a pay-per view and generate 300-400 thousand buys. But with pay-per view considered a business on the decline, Thurman may angle for another PBC fight with Amir Khan to build his profile before angling for a bigger pay-per view fight and payday.

The night can be considered successful by NBC as the network won the night generating a 2.53 rating and 3.13 million viewers. The results are interesting as they outdrew the last UFC on Fox card featuring Alexander Gustafsson and Anthony Johnson.