Another Impressive Night (UFC 184 Review)

ufc_184The UFC has always been full of great fighters who become legends in front of our eyes as they are clearly the best fight of their generation. These fighters are easy to see as they fight and seem to be so far ahead of everyone else that the only thing left to do is to wait for someone to catch up. The likes of GSP and Anderson Silva are likely gone but a new generation has taken hold in the UFC with Jon Jones, Jose Aldo, and Demetrious Johnson leading the way. These fighters have all been at the head of their divisions for a long time and every fight they take seems to only go towards building their hall of fame campaigns. Despite some of these fighters having close calls they remain champions and stick with the belt for extended periods of time as their challengers dwindle. As good as all of these fighters have been as the heads of their divisions there may be no more dominant fighter in MMA right now than the women’s bantamweight champion. It wasn’t too long ago that the talents of Ronda Rousey were never going to be seen in the UFC but since the introduction of the first women’s division everyone has been able to see the massive talent that Rousey brings to the world of MMA. Rousey began her MMA career using her Judo ability to dominate opponents by putting them on their back and submitting them with her patented armbar. That was good enough to make her the first women’s champion in the UFC and led her to a 7-fight win streak. Then things started to get scarier for the rest of the division as she began to develop a stand-up game that could match some of the best in the world. As she entered her latest title defence, Rousey was becoming a true mixed martial artist and a fighter that had little to no weaknesses that anyone had seen. With fights ending quickly and no more fighters to challenge her the women’s bantamweight division is quickly being cleaned out and as Dana White joked a win at UFC 184 and she might be headed to the men’s division. She still needed to win her next fight before the true debate over whether or not there is anyone who can challenge her. Potential super fights against Cris Cyborg and Gina Carano may be the only fights left but that is also looking past her opponent at UFC 184. Cat Zingano is the toughest test for Rousey so far and although that has been said many times before it may never be as true as this. Zingano represents the strongest and most aggressive fighter in the UFC’s women’s bantamweight division. She has better boxing than anyone in the division and puts it to good use always coming forward to challenge her opponents. Rousey had never seen a fighter like this since entering MMA but she would once again look for the win and remain undefeated while essentially clearing out the division. The fight did see something new as Zingano was the most aggressive fighter that Rousey had ever seen. Coming out of the corner running for the flying knee, Zingano looked to get Rousey off of her game immediately. Rousey reacted by grabbing Zingano and the fight went to the ground with Rousey ending up on top in a perfect position to get another armbar. That is exactly what happened as Rousey put in a armbar from the back and the fight was over as Rousey remained a champion while her best opponent was done in 14 seconds. The loss is a devastating one for Zingano as she had gone through so much before this fight and had almost no time to truly show her talents and show that she was really the best fighter to challenge Rousey. The bigger question now is who is there left to fight Rousey for the belt. The champion mentioned Holly Holm and undefeated Bethe Corriea but both are a few fights away from earning a title shot. So the rumours begin about super fights in bringing back Gina Carano, who was Rousey before Rousey began fighting, or Cris Cyborg who would need to drop in weight to fight and sign with the UFC. There is no match for Rousey right now and for the women’s bantamweight division that could mean some serious trouble as Rousey has done what no fighter has done ever before, completely cleared out a division.

The women took over the night in Los Angeles as just before the title went up for grabs two more bantamweights fought it out in an attempt to make some noise in the division. Neither were fighting for a title shot or even a #1 contender role but both were looking to start on the path towards the belt. The fight also presented an interesting situation with the debut of Holly Holm in the UFC. Holm will go down as the best women’s welterweight boxer ever with a total record of 33-2-3 and multiple welterweight titles throughout her career. After retiring from boxing Holm decided to fight MMA full-time and in doing so she tried to do something that many had been waiting to see. The debate between boxing and MMA continues to rage on and whether or not one is better or worse the fact is that they are very different. In boxing it is much more about the dance as both fighters have one weapon to use and their opponents are trying to avoid it. In MMA there are almost endless amounts of weapons and opponents have to worry about them all. It can be quite an adjustment for an MMA fighter to become a boxer and the same can be said for a boxer entering MMA. Everyone has always wondered if a successful boxer could turn into a successful MMA fighter and so far Holm has shown that it is possible. She has adjusted her game to be a fierce and varied striking attack with great boxing and great kicks. She has yet to show her ground game and that remains the biggest question as to be successful in MMA a fighter has to be good everywhere. As she stepped into the UFC for the first time she was going to be tested with more eyes on her than ever before as Raquel Pennington looked to make it a rough introduction. There would be no test of Holm’s wrestling game though as the question of how balanced she is will remained unanswered. Pennington attempted to take the fight to the ground but could never get the takedown and only tried a few times throughout the fight. Instead the fight remained standing for the entire three rounds. Overall neither fight was impressive as Holm showed little power in her punches while trying to earn the head kick knockout and Pennington was simply too passive and only showed signs of her good striking game. Pennington began to show some of that skill but it seemed too late as the third round saw Pennington drop Holm briefly and saw much more damage to the former boxer. It proved to be too little too late for Pennington as she lost the decision but she didn’t just crumble under the hype of Holm. Pennington is still a top fighter but the fight wasn’t impressive enough to give her much chance in the near future as she will need to rebuild a good streak to move back up the rankings. The win was the first in the UFC for Holm and kept her perfect professional MMA record intact but it was not necessarily the most impressive fight for a debut. With the nerves in place Holm may have had some jitters that left her less aggressive than usual but the next fight will be the biggest proof as to whether she is truly ready for a run at the belt.

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