Last night, the Ultimate Fighting Championship brought its particular brand of violence to the Staples Center in Los Angeles, California with a first in the company’s history; an all female co-main and main event.
In the main event, Ronda Rousey, the women’s Bantamweight Champion squared off against challenger Cat Zingano in a matchup that was nearly two years in the making. There’s a certain irony that a match with 26 months of lead up ultimately ended in less time than it took you to read this sentence. There’s also a certain irony that the 14 seconds of fight time broke the previous title fight record set by Andrei Arlovski, who dispatched Paul Buentello by knockout in a mere 15 seconds back in 2005. Why is it ironic you ask? Perhaps because Andrei Arlovski’s most infamous moment was throwing a very ill advised flying knee against heavyweight legend, Fedor Emelianenko which ultimately led to the end of his fight(and consciousness) For Zingango, the flying knee led to a scramble which resulted in Rousey instantly securing an arm bar, forcing Zingano to tap out.
Ronda Rousey’s last two title fights have ended in a combined thirty seconds, and as impressive as that feat is to accomplish, it puts the UFC in a very peculiar spot in regards to the champs future marketability. How can you sell a $60 PPV on the brand of someone who doesn’t give the audience enough time to enjoy what they purchased? In a world where Ronda Rousey engages in twitter feuds with ring-card girls, how do you market challengers that arguably fare worse than Arianny Celeste might if she actually put on the gloves?
8 of Rousey’s 11 professional fights have ended in less than sixty seconds, and only one fight has gone outside of the first round. What’s even more amazing is that 9 of those fights have ended with the same result, an arm-bar submission. It’s becoming increasingly difficult to market any opponent as a credible challenger to the title, and with Rousey seemingly unwilling to move up to 145 pounds or to a catch weight of 140 pounds to fight long time women’s champion, “Cyborg” Justino, one has to wonder what is ahead for the women’s 135 division?
For now, what’s next for Rousey seems to be the winner of the night’s co-main event, Holly Holm. The boxing standout narrowly eked out a split decision over Bantamweight contender, Raquel Pennington. What many hoped would a showcase fight for Holm to set up a legitimate threat to Rousey, turned out to instead showcase a fighter who looked visibly nervous and tentative in her first trip inside the Octagon. In what was mostly an uneventful fight, the former boxing great looked anything but as she was dropped by Pennington in the third round with a right hand, leaving fans to wonder if there is any legitimacy to the hype that surrounded Holm when she was first signed to the sports biggest promotion. Based on last night’s performance, one has to think that fans are not yet ready to embrace Holm as a serious contender to “Rowdy.”
This is a problem the UFC is going to have to solve. Ronda Rousey is in an interesting position in the sport. She is too popular to utilize strictly as a co-main event fighter, yet with no legitimate contenders and fights that routinely end almost instantly, the UFC might have a hard time selling Ronda Rousey from here on out.
By: Michael Gilman