As I was watching Ross Taylor and Kane Williamson score a few runs yesterday, I flipped my laptop open and sniffed around a few streaming sites in pursuit of UFC 193. It's okay, I know I am a horrible being for not 'buying' the fights ... nah, I'll settle with 'I'm smart' as I patiently closed all the spam windows and cast my gaze back on the cricket every time some lag kicked in.
Watching Ronda Rousey up to this point, was mandatory for me. Any time a special athlete is on display it requires my attention, yet expectations of watching history take place are always matched with the unpredictable nature of sport. There was always a chance that Holly Holm would provide Rousey with a greater challenge than she has so far faced and there was always a chance that she could land a few good shots.
What followed was an ambush and more reasons to love sport. The drawcard was Rousey but Holm snuffed takedown attempts, socked Rousey a few times in the face and soon smelt blood in the air. Rousey looked shocked as her face was battered after the first round, she hadn't been in this position before, just as I hadn't been in this position before watching Rousey fight.
Rousey didn't move sideways, her head stayed in front of Holm, presenting Hold with a target ... Holm's a world champ boxer, so she loves it when a face is just sitting in front of her.
Holm lit Rousey up with a few jabs. Holm then knocked Rousey out with a swift kick and Rousey was asleep before she hit the canvas.
The unthinkable had happened and my love for sport only went up a few notches.
Rousey deserves a rematch, as all long-term champions do and while Rousey is the UFC's dream fighter who has earned them plenty of money and helped grow the UFC, a rematch is a perfect result. We live in an age where a female jockey just won the Melbourne Cup, where female coaches are creeping into the NBA and NFL, where gender equality continues to improve. Yesterday's result means that all the attention that the UFC is getting right now is thanks to two females and with a rematch on the cards, the UFC world is run by females. We have seen the craziest result in the UFC of 2015, thanks to two female athletes. Before the main event, Joanna Jedrzejczyk beat/smoked Valerie Letourneau as the gap in quality and hype between male and female fights is once again shortened.
There are of course other big headliners such as Connor McGregor and Jon Jones (who is on the comeback trail), who called Rousey their peer as the UFC's most bankable stars. A Rousey win would have served as another tick on her impressive CV and she would have gone on to continue to take over the world in sports, media and anything else she could find. After this loss though and knowing how intense Rousey's determination is, she will zone in on the rematch.
Holm doesn't need to try be Rousey or to emulate what Rousey has done outside the UFC. I'm more excited about the future of the women's side of the UFC as Holm now has a stack of challengers, led by Rousey wanting a piece of that title. Just like that, with a swift kick to Rousey's head, the women's division has been opened up with excitement and anticipation flowing through the UFC-loving world.
Throw in the fact that this all went down in Melbourne, the first time the UFC has been to Victoria where 56,214 people showed up, which is a UFC record.. The UFC broke new ground in Melbourne and did it successfully, further reinforcing how popular the UFC is in our part of the world and around the world.
Breaking new ground does however mean exposing the UFC to new audiences, who aren't always keen to see people get beat up. I've read a few opinions about how people felt 'uncomfortable' with the brutality on display, especially between female fighters. I see this as a rather backwards view and personally I love the UFC, regardless of whether it's guys or ladies going at it in the octagon.
Mark Hunt was also impressive in his victory over Antonio 'Bigfoot' Silva, scoring a hefty KO win over the Brazilian. Much has been made about the way that Hunt has switched up his diet and training regime, which puts Hunt in a very intriguing position as he's 41 years old and probably hasn't looked this good in a long time. In the post-fight press conference Hunt said that he still wants a title shot while also saying that he'd be keen to headline the UFC's card for Brisbane next March.
The most pleasing aspect of Hunt's win is that he's still going strong. This is slightly crazy giving the punishment Hunt has absorbed on top of being 41 years old but as the guy who holds it down for Aotearoa in the UFC, I'm chuffed that Hunt is still in the business of knocking mofo's out.
Shout out to Robert Whittaker, the man who sits below Hunt in the kiwi-UFC rankings for his victory over Uriah Hall.
Oh, Steven Adams...
Big ups Tai Wynyard who made his move to the University Of Kentucky aka the college basketball powerhouse official today...