Saturday, December 31, 2016

Nunes vs. Rousey: I fail hard at the prediction game

I made myself go on the record in yesterday's blog entry about last night's UFC championship fights.

Wow, did I blow it.

I went with my heart in choosing Rousey to beat Nunes.  I argued that Nunes would not have the self-discipline to use the game plan she would need to beat Rousey.  Nunes didn't have the chance to display self-discipline.  From the moment she closed on Rousey, Nunes owned the ex-champion.  Rousey looked like she didn't know how to fight.  She made every mistake she made in the Holm loss, only faster, and Nunes hit harder.  Forty-eight seconds after the fight started, it was over, with a TKO-d Rousey looking utterly and totally disoriented.

At this point, Rousey has two reasonable choices:  retire, or seek a new camp with coaches good enough to rebuild her game.  I don't believe she will do the latter, so I  hope she does the former.

Rousey was a formidable athlete who helped make women's MMA what it is today, and she inspired joy and awe in millions of fans, including me.  The sport, though, has passed her by, and without new coaches, she will keep on losing against the top competitors.  I will always remember her string of victories with joy and respect and awe, but they are over.

In the other championship bout, challenger Cody Garbrandt did to champion Dominick Cruz what Cruz had done to every previous opponent:  made him look bad.  Garbrandt had the speed, cardio, footwork, and head motion to outwork Cruz where Cruz is strongest, and Garbrandt flat out hits harder.  He's the new boss at 135, and I look forward to him fighting T.J. Dillashaw, the logical next contender and a fighter who also won in convincing style tonight.

The card was mostly good, but these two fights definitely did not go as I expected and, in the case of Rousey, hoped.

I have huge respect for all the athletes involved.

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