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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UFC 207: A Championship Return?

By: S. Davis

nunesrow

T.J. Dillashaw vs. John Lineker

Dillashaw wins if he utilizes his footwork and speed. From the time he stunned the world by taking the title from Renan Barao – and solidifying it by defeating him in a rematch – he’s tapped into the peak of his abilities and there haven’t been many better fighters in the world. The precision, accurate punching and pace has overwhelmed every opponent during his title run and subsequent defenses. (For the record I scored the battle with Dominick Cruz for Dillashaw by a very slim margin.)

This fight should be controlled by the former champion provided he sticks to his blueprint. He has the advantage in almost every aspect except for power. Volume leans heavily with Dillashaw and if he can remain disciplined enough defensively to keep away from taking a power shot from Lineker, it will be a victory that should put him on the doorstep of a title fight. I wonder if he’ll use his wrestling if he takes a shot and survives it.

Lineker wins if he can draw his opponent into a brawl. He’ll have to show a level of cage control that he’s yet to express thus far in his career. If he fails to corral Dillashaw in tight spaces and doesn’t successfully use his size with offensive wrestling/grappling to try to set up an opportunity to hurt him with a hook or uppercut it’s going to be a blowout. I’m not sure he’ll be stopped in the cage but he could lose every round by a wide margin if he doesn’t employ new tactics. Lineker is skilled but he’s also a plodding fighter that will take a few shots to land one – now that one could end the night – but absorbing offense leads to a disappointing evening when the scorecards are read.

The power in his hands is brutal and he has a chin made of steel. He’s the traditional boxer in mixed martial arts and he’s great at cutting angles but he has to be lighter on his toes than just resorting to straight line pressure. Left and right body kicks could be there for him and possibly a question-mark kick due to the fact that Dillashaw is adept at changing levels. If he can find a way to lull him in, engage as a smokescreen and then launch a precise head kick as Dillashaw retreats, that could book his ticket to a bantamweight title shot. Over three rounds he’s going to have to stop the former champion because if the fight goes the distance…he loses.

Bantamweight Championship: Dominick Cruz (c) vs. Cody Garbrandt

Cruz wins if he can stick and move. This fight is tremendously similar to the Dillashaw vs. Lineker bout in that you have one fighter who has slick movement facing off against one who’s more of a puncher and is far more stationary in terms of movement; the boxer taking on the sprinter. He has to take control and frustrate the young title challenger with his awkward style; the feints, jabs, looping hooks, shuffling and wrestling.

He has the edge in experience, especially when we’re talking about headlining cards and title fights. Will that alone be enough to carry him to another title defense?

Garbrandt wins if he somehow lands a crushing punch. He doesn’t really need a second clean one to find flesh and earn that twelve pound belt of gold. It’s intriguing in that while Cruz is a favorite, the fight can turn if he gets overconfident and lazy just once. For all the footwork and speed, Cruz is susceptible to being hit…a lot, actually, when you consider how elusive his attack is. A lazy half-step or a single lapse defensively will make things interesting in a flash and open up an opportunity for the Team Alpha Male member.

He’s got to keep himself calm. During this whole week, we’ve seen Garbrandt unnerved by the champion in interviews so I wonder if he’s focused mentally on the challenge. Can he channel the simmering emotions and use them as positive fuel once that cage closes and he faces the most gargantuan task he’s encountered in his young career?

It’s going to be up to the challenger to create an opportunity for himself. He has to find a way to change the arc of the fight if he wants to pull the title away from one of the best fighters in MMA history.

Bantamweight Championship: Amanda Nunes (c) vs. Ronda Rousey

Oh yeah!

Nunes wins if she can stop the fight early, as in the first or midway point of the second round. She’s an impressive athlete but she’s not made for five rounds. She isn’t as scary once she enters the latter stages of a bout. (See her close win against Valentina Shevchenko for clear evidence.) Three of her four career losses have occurred outside of the first five minutes so there’s an obvious way to scout her when preparing to meet her in the cage; survive the first stanza and there’s a great chance to catch her as she gets tired and labors around the cage.

When she stopped Miesha Tate at UFC 200, we didn’t get to see if she’s any better at competing in a long fight; the extra time wasn’t needed. Her striking is stellar and she has real pop in her fists. She was able to batter Tate’s face into a crimson mask, breaking her nose in the process, with straight left jabs and precise overhand righs that offered her the rear-naked choke to capture the gold. If Nunes keeps the fight standing and takes her time in controlling the biggest moment of her professional career, she’ll retain. Will the enormous circumstances surrounding the fight seep into the cage and into her mind?

She excels where her opponent is at a clear disadvantage: striking. Rousey’s abilities on her feet have improved exponentially from the time she was a puppy in the sport and seemed to be miles ahead of where she really was when she knocked out Bethe Correia. That was fools gold for her – and the media coverage that emanated in its immediate aftermath armed her with a level of hubristic confidence in her striking as she stared across the cage from Holly Holm and attempted to match her strike for strike. That was her primary strategy and we all saw how that turned out.

Rousey wins if she can gain an armbar early. Like the champion, Rousey is stellar at making short work of her opponents. Unlike the champion, the times Rousey has been forced to fight longer than the first round she is 1-1. She doesn’t have any issues with cardio so, personally, I’d love to see the fight enter the championship rounds as neither woman has had to get off their stools for a fourth round.

I’m not concerned about her physically. It’s all mental with the former champion. I’ll ignore her media blackout although one has to wonder why she wasn’t turning away interviews, microphones and cameras when she was winning every single fight during her ascension. It’s a worthy observation. Will she wilt if she’s hit on a few occasions? Is the trauma from the Holm fight in the front of her mind? It’s an arduous task to handicap the fight for Rousey when all the questions revolve around her mental state. Rousey will make her famous walk to the cage tonight, could it be the last one of her career if she takes a beating? If she doesn’t enforce – and gain control in the clinch, Nunes has the skills to make the Holm knockout seem like a blip.

Picks: Borg, Kim, Dillashaw, Cruz and Rousey….uuuuh, Nunes. Wait…Nunes, I’ll pick her and stop typing.

MMA’s Most Intriguing Division

By: S. Davis

ShevHolm

Congratulations to Valentina Shevchenko on a tremendous performance in her win over former bantamweight champion Holly Holm over this past weekend. She was crisp in her movement, patient, and she completely mastered her spatial awareness in regard to cage position so that her strength – counter striking – would overwhelm her opponent. Oddly enough counter striking is also the main strength of Holm.

Usually in combat sports when a bout features two counter strikers the final result can amount to a snooze fest. It’s simple really: An aggressive athlete falls prey to the counter fighter because they come forward hoping to dictate pace and the terms of engagement. The counter striker truly needs and hopes for a dancing partner to balance what they do well. They like to react, to counter. (Re: Ronda Rousey vs. Holly Holm.) The right hook and straight left scored points all night long and Holm couldn’t adjust at all. She was confused, tentative and her offense was completely nullified.

There was a reason why Holm looked so stellar in that fight and now finds herself on a two-fight skid. Let’s make this clear: I don’t think her career’s over or that she’s “overrated” or analogous to Buster Douglas. She’s an accomplished combat athlete across multiple disciplines – and the only combatant, regardless of gender, to hold titles in boxing, kickboxing and mixed martial arts. She’s legit and I don’t smell “one hit wonder” on her. No. She was winning her last fight against former bantamweight champion Miesha Tate before Tate gambled everything and went for the desperation takedown which ultimately won her the belt…for a few months. Holm isn’t trash all of a sudden but her style of creating offense from distance, timing and counter striking was hampered against a fighter who excels in the same areas. It was a bad style matchup.

Shevchenko, an accomplished Muay-Thai and kickboxing champion with three wins over Joanna Jedrzejczyk, uses precise clinchwork, crushing knees and has a flair for spinning back fists and kicks. However at her core she’s a calculated fighter that loves to react. Someone had to be the lead dancer – and Shevchenko played coy just enough to suck Holm into the type of fight that puts her at a disadvantage. If striking is your thing, this was the fight for you. I found it fascinating.

What’s next for the division? There are divisions in the sport with more talent but there isn’t a single one that has seen so much upheaval in such a short amount of time. It’s like an eternity since Rousey seemed insurmountable and stood above all the other talented women at bantamweight. Rousey dropped the title to Holm, who then lost it to Tate…who was finished by Amanda Nunes in the first round at UFC 200.  Did you get all that? Not a single successful title defense from any of the aforementioned women and now the spotlight is directly on Amanda Nunes and her first fight since becoming the queen of the 135 class.

I always felt the division would eventually catch up to Rousey but the hot potato nature of her former championship is curious and worthy of attention. Is there any fight in the current division that has a true favorite and underdog? Any of the women can pop up and take center stage – as the recent present has proved.

The UFC put themselves in a bad position in what they’ve done since Rousey’s been on hiatus. First off they were pushing Holm to wait until Rousey returned for an immediate rematch, which, in my opinion, would’ve been a disaster considering the manner in which Holm took the title from her. They would’ve set themselves up for a colossal disappointment with that one as Rousey would be far better suited to get a fight that caters to her style. A crisis was averted there as Holm wanted to stay active – a decision that’s scorned for some strange reason when factoring Rousey has yet to inform anyone of a return date – so she could defend against Tate. Was it a bad move for Holm? No. She lost the fight – one she controlled – in an all-or-nothing gamble.

As opposed to booking an immediate rematch with Tate to headline UFC 200 – one of the cases that made obvious sense – UFC brass put Tate in against Nunes. No slight against the new champion, who deserved the opportunity, but to keep the storyline and financial interests aligned, I felt having a triangle of Holm, Tate and Rousey going for the gold sells itself. Holm just lost it, Tate won it in incredible fashion…and Rousey could be moved into the picture against any of them. Again, I think Rousey’s initial fight upon her return should be against anyone not named Holm. Had they got Rousey to come back for UFC 200 to fight Tate, no matter the winner, Holm would be there. Oh well.

I’m sure that wasn’t on the table which is why Holm opted for the Schevchenko challenge. I hope the new ownership won’t act in such a petty fashion as Zuffa did regarding her when she went against wishes to sit on the bench and shine the belt until Rousey returned, whenever that happens to take place.

As talented as Nunes is she isn’t a popular name or star – and this is where I hope the UFC puts the promotional strength behind her to enhance her in the eyes of the casual viewer. (They already own the die-hards.) She’s strong in all facets of MMA but she isn’t fit enough to keep the gas going for more than three full rounds (which Schevchenko proved a few months ago). They pushed other athletes on their roster to the moon after wins not as impressive as hers so they should help create a new star.

It’s imperative because another great fighter in Julianna Pena is right on the cusp of a title shot that she deserves. Sitting at 4-0 in the UFC (7-0 if you care to factor in her TUF victories) and coming off a massive victory over Cat Zingano, logically, the title fight versus Nunes is the way to go. However logic doesn’t apply much to the UFC as Michael Bisping will be defending his middleweight title against Dan Henderson in the fall/winter but you understand the point.

Losses in MMA aren’t apocalyptic – unless you carry two losses to a division champion – as it’s a short-term memory sport, for the most part. Pena and Shevchenko are alive in the queue and I feel Holm and Zingano are both two wins away from being title challengers once more. I’m not sure where Tate goes after she heals up her broken nose but an argument can be made that you can throw her right back in with Holm (both coming off losses) or opt to sideline her to set up a trilogy fight with Rousey in the fall/winter. Maybe these ladies take the main event or co-main at UFC 205 in Madison Square Garden.

I always pay closer attention to the female fights and even more so now. Maybe it’s because they seem to fight harder and push to take chances, I don’t know. Hold on to that belt ladies or keep losing grip of it – it’s great to see new stars being made.

 

This is Happening, Dana White?

By: S. Davis

I’ve been holding on to this piece for a while because watching how the UFC arranges their chessboard going forward is quite embarrassing. With all eyes – and marketing – geared towards UFC 200, in July, the management is intent on making a spectacle (i.e., cash) over making the fights that should happen. Where do I even begin?

Congratulations, Holly Holm! The new UFC bantamweight champion overcame the odds (bluster, and unwarranted personal attacks) of Ronda Rousey to take the title in spectacular fashion. She’s articulate, soft-spoken, humble and ready to defend her crown. How does the UFC strike on the momentum of such a ripple in the sport of mixed martial arts? They put her on the shelf, dimming her star, while Rousey fulfills her well-earned Hollywood pursuits. Huh?

So Holm, who so thoroughly dominated Rousey that an immediate rematch can be debated at-length, has to stand around eight months? Was Dana White occupied and not paying attention to what happened in that octagon when both women were locked inside? It wasn’t a close fight in any sense. Rousey wasn’t hit with a lucky shot by an overmatched contender that caused her to lose the title. Holm exposed the holes in her game – that other women were unable to take advantage of – and controlled her over the six minutes the fight lasted.

Rousey showed a lack of ANY head movement, her poor striking defense was visible to even a novice, casual, fan of the sport and her footwork was elementary for a woman of her accomplishments. If you watched the fight with the sound muted you would walk away thinking that Holm was defending the belt against a contender that wasn’t prepared to challenge for a championship. It was that lopsided.

If Rousey took the time she could clean up those three deficiencies at a level where it could possibly allow her to get the fight into the clinch where she can transition to her judo throws and trips. She could work on her striking until 2020 and never make up the gap that Holm has on her in that discipline. The point is that Rousey could win a rematch but she would have to change her style to actually stop being a pressure fighter, which gives Holm the opportunity to really control the distance and beat her on points, defeating the need for Holm to be aggressive at all – and lower the risk of being within arm’s distance of Rousey’s optimal fighting range.

Like I stated above, her best chance is to improve her head movement, because it was stationary, footwork and striking defense. Maybe with those three facets undergoing further development she could get the fight in her distance to set up her trips, throws and possible armbar. Who knows what would’ve happened if Rousey were able to get Holm into her clinch three or four more times? The problem is that Holm has been a seasoned champion in boxing and kickboxing so no matter the outcome, the event atmosphere itself would not rattle her – and she’s been training mixed martial arts with elite athletes and coaches at the Jackson Wink Academy for possibly longer than the time it took Rousey to ascend in the sport. In hindsight the outcome from last month shouldn’t have been so shocking. Lastly, Holm is bigger and stronger than any opponent Rousey has faced and those attributes are unlikely to change in July.

Rousey gets to go off and do her films while a burgeoning star waits? Who’s the champion again? Dana White stills thinks it’s Rousey, clearly. Holm is on her clock when it should be the other way around. Maybe I should quit being reasonable here.

Holm-Rousey 2 is the money fight for UFC 200 – and I get that but they are courting disaster by that being Rousey’s last fight…ever. Why put the company in that position, Mr. White? No more bank off her name, the headlines begin to melt away and the record-breaking numbers from one of the most marketed athletes ever become past tense. Rousey has already stated that if she drops the rematch she will retire. Now that could just be the raw emotion that she’s still dealing with in the aftermath of her aura being eviscerated in the most visible way but isn’t the fact that she’s talking about retirement an indictment of her confidence, her mental state? Isn’t that against many of the foolish (and unwritten) rules in the athletic credo? White is setting up Rousey to be retired after a second loss to the champion – and she would easily find herself in the same position that she put Miesha Tate in. It doesn’t seem logical to even consider this route.

Holm deserves to defend against Tate. It’s almost as if she’s being punished for defeating the promotion’s golden girl. YOU WIN, YOU SIT DOWN! Rousey could have a big return fight against Amanda Nunes or Julianna Pena while Holm could give Tate her well deserved title shot (I’d pick Holm to retain) and if Rousey wins her fight…boom! Of course both women could lose and the rematch could be shot in the foot but there’s always risk in combat sports. I just don’t like Holm being put in a freezer when she could fight anywhere from Febraury-April and still make it to July for another battle. Looking back at the minimal damage she took at UFC 193, Holm could possibly fight twice and still compete in July.

Holm is the champion – and deserves the same, maniacal, whirlwind push that the woman she unseated received. That way you have two stars simultaneously. Who’s not going to be excited to see Holm defend her title before UFC 200? Where’s the person that’s going to boo a Rousey comeback story? Not many. But it’s the UFC and if it doesn’t make dollars, first and foremost, they don’t care. Just ask Frankie Edgar about fairness. Give Holm her spotlight, her platform to reign in a manner fitting for her; she doesn’t need to replicate the former champion. It’s called variety so let Holm realize her potential by allowing her to stay active.

Moving on to another issue that would make me want to jump through a window if I wasn’t familiar with how White conducts business: Jose Aldo and Conor McGregor. Full disclosure, I picked Aldo to win a four-round, close fight by TKO. Needless to say that after parking my car en route to a holiday party and checking my phone I almost couldn’t see clearly when it read “McGregor finishes Aldo in 13 seconds.” Congratulations to McGregor, he’s good. However I do not think he’s revolutionizing striking by any means (Tell me how?) or do I find him to be a master of angles, distance and movement. If that’s true why is his defense, the majority of the time, supreme confidence in his chin?

He gets hit, a lot. Now Aldo did nothing of note in the fight with him two weeks ago but Chad Mendes put fists on his face a number of times (outside of the takedowns he scored) at UFC 189. Biting down on a mouthpiece and taking clean shots from anyone is not mastering of distance and movement, it’s gambling. I compare a fighter’s chin to a running backs legs as there are but so many carries for a running back as there are so many times the button can be pressed on a chin before your brain starts shutting off – and your knees take on the consistency of macaroni. McGregor is a good fighter but he’s not the first of his kind, he’s not dissimilar to what we’ve seen before. He’s a gifted striker with a variety of accurate punches and kicks, excellent stopping power in both hands, although his left is a night-ender, and up to this point he has questionable takedown defense. That’s an apt description of Anthony Pettis (without the finishing power in his fists), Carlos Condit, Donald Cerrone, etc. His mouth makes him unique, I’d imagine, but as a fighter he fits a well established template. If someone should have the title of unique applied to them on that roster, look at Demetrious Johnson. He masters every facet of martial arts in the octagon and searching for someone to join him on that list is a chore.

What I think is a major plus for McGregor is his composure in the cage; not the trash talk and mean-mugging when he eats a shot to the head but how calm he seems the entire time. That might play a part into how he’s able to influence an opponent mentally. Now that is one aspect of his that I think – along from the verbal missiles he launched at Aldo over the past year – pushed Aldo to start so aggressively. He began his attack in a way that’s a stark contrast to how he’s opened fights over his most of his career. If you watch McGregor in a fight, just by his facial expression you would think he’s ordering a coffee or relaxing at the beach with his girlfriend.

Now standing as the undisputed champion at featherweight, he has “options” as the division that he rules waits for him to make a decision. (Again, sorry Frankie.) So why again is Rousey automatically granted a title rematch while Aldo is not? Rousey was dominant and undefeated since 2010, impressive. Aldo was just as dominant – and although his record wasn’t without a loss (now a second after McGregor’s left hand hit flesh) he entered his clash with McGregor sporting an 18-fight win streak with his last loss dating back to 2005. What’s going on? While a 13 second loss is devastating, in a way, it doesn’t really prove much in terms of who’s the best among the two men. Holm controlled her counterpart for two rounds – and I think that’s a bigger statement of why Rousey should not get an immediate rematch. Yet I’m reasonable, I get what the UFC is looking at but I don’t think they’re seeing clearly.

Any reasonable MMA fan can understand this, right? You know what? I retract that as it seems the most unreasonable fans are in fact those that follow MMA.

Consider me outside of the chorus of those worshipping the boastful Irishman, it’s not because I’m a “hater,” it’s more of the fact that I’m not into the deification of humans. Not. At. All. Furthermore, I don’t classify myself as a “fan” as that’s short for fanatic. I like sports – and by direct relation I have respect for athletes who compete. I think Edgar should get the featherweight shot against McGregor next as it seems he’s not that excited to challenge for the lightweight title now that Rafael dos Anjos retained (and Aldo has to get in line for some reason). I’m not of the ilk that feels McGregor is “better” than Aldo but it was an impressive win nonetheless. I stand on the sideline of grand declarations as most of the MMA world said, loudly, that Junior Dos Santos was “better” than Cain Velasquez after their first meeting…then they met twice after that.

Does Aldo not deserve his redemption in a second showing? What’s the exact criteria for an immediate rematch?

I’m not stupid in thinking the UFC is very comfortable with McGregor holding one title, threatening to try for two, and making sure Aldo is pushed to the side. I say this because Aldo has been critical of management, has had to pull out of title fights due to injury and they have a hard time marketing him. In defense of the UFC, he has not taken to learning English, unlike his fellow countrymen Vitor Belfort and Junior Dos Santos and the company must be bonkers over having an English-speaking star. Of course it would be detrimental to class and business sense to ever declare that publicly. I also thought it would echo the same sentiment to release the dressing room footage of Aldo after losing the featherweight title fight…and then it went viral. What do I know? Maybe they just want to let the promotional beast – and fans – take a deep breath after having to promote Aldo-McGregor twice already. That’s fair.

Now the ongoing narrative from McGregor’s mouth and others that he’s “cleaned out the featherweight division” is comical. It doesn’t make any sense. Are MMA fans and media dumbing down the meaning of “cleaning” out one? Yes.

You can legitimately say that Jon Jones cleaned out light heavyweight with eight title defenses, Anderson Silva at middleweight with 10, and Georges St. Pierre joined that elite club with nine defenses at welterweight. McGregor does not have ONE title defense. Yes he defeated Chad Mendes, Dustin Poirer, Jose Aldo and (a young) Max Holloway but does that mean the division is conquered? If so, then Jones completely defeated the light heavyweight division before he went on his perfectly legal attempted-murder spree of 2011.

Someone always emerges so it can be argued that a weight class will always provide new challengers. It’s the cyclical nature of things. I wish the UFC, and more importantly, the MMA media would behave like objective journalists and not wide-eyed fanboys when it comes to common sense topics. Featherweight is not a dying division – and if the weight cut is a threat to his physical well-being then he should stop dropping pounds and go to 155 exclusively…or hold both belts simultaneously (if he can win the second and keep the first).

Sorry but the Cerrone fight is no longer an option, Mr. White. How about trying to add some legitimacy to your rankings by actually using them for something aside from you to acknowledge when you want to push someone up the ladder? One minute you boast about how high a fighter is ranked for one possible matchup and then blatantly disregard those same numbers preceding their name when another fight makes more sense “for the company.” Are you going to continue to do this? C’mon Lorenzo and Frank Fertitta, Dana White you are all smarter that this. How else would you three have been able to spearhead a brand that couldn’t secure legitimacy worldwide to now having corporate sponsors like Reebok? For the most part, the UFC makes the right fights but there are a few times that match-making falls short.

Clear some things up. Is it Edgar or Aldo? Why should Holm sit on her star when it’s burning? Why can’t Rousey take a fight and earn a title shot? Why put her directly across the cage from a woman who handed her the only professional loss of her career upon her return? It can’t all be about money, although of course it is, it’s prize fighting. You’ve got to do better than this, White.