Ronda Rousey

By: S. Davis

The mob mentality of fans never ceases to amaze me or prove my thought about the cult of fandom. Ninety-nine percent of all sports “fanatics” are putrid beings of flesh with the remaining 1% expressing the ability to view athletes as actual humans. Who knew?

We’re a few months removed from Ronda Rousey’s second consecutive defeat, and since this piece has been gestating in my brain from the Friday before the UFC Bantamweight title fight with champion Amanda Nunes…it’s time to type. Let’s just get this out-of-the-way early: Rousey defeated all the fighters that were placed in her path. She prevailed over every woman she was supposed to turn back on her way to becoming the biggest star in mixed martial arts. Now it can’t be ignored how much of the UFC machine aided her upon her rise but she was the one that had to step into the Octagon and deliver. Zuffa couldn’t manufacture that, she was tasked with stacking wins on top of one another. Alone. She entered the cage and had the door slam behind her. She fought. The world watched. She won.

“Overrated!”

“All hype and nothing else!”

“Brat!”

“Entitled!”

“Cocky!”

“One-dimensional!”

A few of the aforementioned labels are apt but not the ones you think. Overrated? No. All hype? No. Brat? Yes. Entitled? Maybe. Cocky? Isn’t that a prerequisite in all sports, especially the individual ones? I think so. One-dimensional? No.

She’s as dominant in judo as any fighter has ever been in their strongest discipline. Demian Maia is an uncanny jiu-jitsu practitioner, Anthony Pettis is a spectacular striker and Jon Jones is well, great everywhere, and I think he’s an alien but you should be able to follow my path. There’s a weird aura surrounding the sport of MMA and its competitors; when a fighter’s dominance is based, primarily, in the grappling realm they are viewed and judged in a harsher manner than the exciting fighter, per se. Peculiar.

Holly Holm excels as a striker, yet – up to the recent present – she struggles with her takedown defense and aggressive striking (she’s a classic counter-fighter; the sole reason I thought Rousey’s forward marching, bullish, style could haunt her the longer the fight went). Additionally the game-plan, apparently was to trade with a decorated standup artist but there’s no need to rehash that evening. Nunes is just as gifted in that aspect of martial arts and yet she’s susceptible to gassing out. Are they one-dimensional as well? What about Maia? Pettis?

Rousey’s problem was born from the fool’s gold in the aftermath of her knockout of Bethe Correia. That evening doomed her. It was the worst result…and she won the bout. She made a successful title defense! It steeled her belief that she was a boxer, a true standup fighter; she had thoughts of being a high-level one. Or at least that was one of the subjects spewing from her trainer’s mouth. Well, then she had to defend the title against Holm.

Holm and then Nunes; the outcomes are well-known at this point. While she made improvements in the striking arena leading up to the title defense against Holm, she clearly regressed in her devastating loss against Nunes. Where was her defense? “Head movement!” She would get tagged in some of her prior fights but she stood as straight as a pole and her head was an easy target in the one round she lasted against Nunes.

Unfortunately every fight begins on the feet. For Rousey that means she has to enter striking range in order to put her expertise to use. Her limited striking features no kicking to speak of and she doesn’t employ traditional takedowns like doubles, singles, knee-taps, etc., so her head movement and creation of angles must be stellar. They aren’t; at least not recently.

As for her legacy and impact: She met every challenge – until her last two outings – and was as dominant during that run as any athlete has ever been in any sport. There is no reasonable debate otherwise. Is she the most complete fighter? No. However, in my opinion, only Jones, Georges St-Pierre, Demetrious Johnson, Cris Cyborg, Joanna Jedrzejczyk, Cain Velasquez, Daniel Cormier and Jose Aldo fit that description. Tyron Woodley, Max Holloway, Rory MacDonald, Tony Ferguson and Rafael dos Anjos are worthy of mention as well.

Is she the best female in MMA? No. I never thought she was – even at her apex. That title belongs to Cyborg. Period. It does speak to Rousey’s gable grip on the sport and her excellence that respected members of MMA media picked her to win a long-rumored bout with Cyborg. Those journalists deserve to have their credentials torched. It was lazy then and it’s preposterous now.

Is she great? Yes. That can’t be deleted from her story. Holm and Nunes are the only two women that were able to topple her. (A legitimate argument can be raised that the third woman on that list is Rousey herself; at least mentally and emotionally.) The sports world and all of pop-culture screeched to a halt on those Saturday evenings when she competed and still remains the biggest crossover star under the UFC banner. She honored whatever the hell the ideal is of a champion in this peculiar time in MMA. She burst out to 12 victories – over four years – before her first loss. She won the title and actually defended her crown six times, event after event; didn’t fail at weigh-ins and held up her media obligations to promote (with the exception of UFC 207).

Rankings, belts and champions – as far as MMA is concerned – matter as much as the interim title I recently drew on a piece of paper, crumbled into a ball, and threw for my dog in a game of fetch. She infused substance into those gold “UFC” letters slung around her waist. Her championship had true meaning; it was layered and respected.

Pride comes before the fall. That’s the saying, right? I would add “Immense” to begin the statement as it pertains to the former champion. No, the former title holder. Hubris. In an interview leading up to her defense at UFC 193 where she was onstage with Jedrzejczyk, she answered a question by stating she could defeat the entire female bantamweight division with “one arm tied behind” her back. That was cringe-worthy.

Personally, I hope her last fight wasn’t the final act of her athletic career, so to speak. I don’t want it to end the way it seems like it has, presently. Naturally the mob is out to defecate on her achievements, and, over enough time I see her name drawing snickers. Hasn’t it already?

Predictably, it’s already begun. Its’ unfortunate that she’ll be remembered in a fashion unfit for the stature she earned within all of sport. If she’s taken the cage for the last time, I’m positive that idiot fans will feel pleasure and their own form of personal satisfaction. They already do.

Whether she retires or not, I respect her time in MMA and all she accomplished. I wish her all the happiness and success in the world. She excelled in an arena where consistency is its own martial art.

It was a joy to watch her perform. Damn, I’m going to miss her walk to the cage.

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Hey Warner Bros? Listen Up!

Let me just get this out-of-the-way early: I did not like The Dark Knight Rises. Upon first viewing I found myself mostly satisfied with the movie as it served to close out a trilogy. Every single time I have viewed the film after I bought the trilogy as a Christmas gift to myself, I want to melt the disc.

A plot hole that disturbs me to no end is how Bane knew the exact location of Applied Sciences. This could have been easily remedied by having him capture, torture and kill Coleman Reese once he arrived in Gotham – after the airplane stunt – in the beginning of the film. (This scene wouldn’t need to be filmed; it could have been featured in the Gotham Gazette. Hole filled.)

Other issues that make the movie painful to sit through include how the illegal trades that bankrupted Bruce Wayne were allowed to stand as a group of gun-wielding men terrorized the trading floor, John Blake knowing Wayne’s identity because of a “look,” the final fight between Batman and Bane which was deplorable when you compare it to their first encounter which happened to be elemental, brutal, desperate (for Batman), clever and an all-encompassing confrontation that raised the bar for hero versus villain face-offs; and the fact that Batman quit once Miranda Tate revealed her true self and then stabbed him. (He quit! He allowed Bane to string him up and his head would have been soup had Selina Kyle arrived a second later.)

Stay with me guys because this isn’t about that movie it’s about the casting of the next Batman to be featured in the Superman/Batman movie who will then go into the Justice League blockbuster that Warner Bros. is crying – well, rushing – to make already. (Side note: I do not like the idea of having Batman introduced into Superman’s sequel. He just returned, strong, in Man of Steel. Build the character singularly before bringing in such a dominant presence like Batman to pull focus.)

There are rumors of Josh Brolin, Ryan Gosling, Joe Manganiello – and others – being the next man to don the cape and cowl. All fine choices but the man for the job is Christian Bale. He’s been quoted as saying he “won’t return” unless Christopher Nolan was in charge and approached him with a fresh idea. I have one. (I’ll get to it.)

Early information about the upcoming film has Batman already being a seasoned crime fighter, which leads credence to Brolin being among the handful of leading men up for the part. Okay….

Fresh idea alert! From this point on any mention of Batman/Bruce Wayne is with Bale playing the character.

Here we go, ready? For Superman/Batman we could have Wayne return once he gets a view from Florence about what’s going on in Metropolis and the emergence of an alien invasion (Zod) and a possible threat to humanity (Superman). He decides to arrive in Metropolis to talk to old business competitor, Lex Luthor, about all the damage done in lieu of the battle between Zod and Superman.

At night he dons the suit to gather as much information on Superman that he can until the two inevitably cross paths. To avoid the whole Wayne-shows-up-in-Metropolis-and-then-Batman-is-suddenly-in-town thing, Blake would still be “Batman”in Gotham so no one would attempt to find a link between the events. (Maybe that would give Lois Lane something to do.) Our heroes work together against Luthor and Brainiac to make the team-up seem legit.

BUT Superman/Clark Kent should dominate the movie along with the villains in terms of screen time because it should not be a vehicle to fawn over Batman again…his trilogy just wrapped. I would have him in the batsuit twice – at most – but mainly trying to outfox Luthor in the boardroom to regain control of the once-mighty Wayne Enterprises (which Luthor would acquire after Lucius Fox steps away from the company sometime after TDKR and has Applied Sciences SEPARATED and MOVED to its own facility under his name and control in hopes that Bruce Wayne would return after the events of Man of Steel).

Bruce Wayne would also aim to stop Luthor’s newfound influence, in business and organized crime, in Gotham that has made the city almost too much for Blake to handle. In a montage reminiscent of TDKR last two minutes we would see Superman earn the trust of humanity and the residents of Metropolis after decimating the city and endangering their lives after the Zod battle, Wayne moving the orphans to another mansion while returning to live in Wayne Manor (since the batcave is ON THE PREMISES), taking back control of his company and the mantle of the Bat while sending Blake to protect Bludhaven as Nightwing. Maybe in the end we would have a signal going off in the batcave alerting Wayne and a visiting Superman to the emergence of a galactic threat looming…Darkseid. Remember Wayne Enterprises already had a satellite in orbit that Superman and Zod destroyed so he and Fox would develop one that could journey deep into outer space to search out other powerful aliens.

The idea is to keep Bale engaged with the character while not beating him over the head with him and making it feel boring. So have him appear only in Justice League (and its sure swarm of sequels) while avoiding standalone Batman stories for a good while.

But since the powers that be just need to have a Batman series living and breathing they should jump it into the future with Batman Beyond. Wait for about 5 years – they won’t – and cast Michael Keaton (my personal favorite Batman) as the now-retired crime fighter with Terry McGinnis ready to take up the mantle in a futuristic Gotham City. They could basically make a live-action version of the animated film that they ALREADY maaaaaaade. This shouldn’t be that difficult. More importantly, they avoid annoying the hell out of their core fanbase (who they don’t care much for as they favor the broad audience) while introducing another facet of Batman’s mythology.