411 Fact or Fiction MMA: Will Ronda Rousey Fight Again?
Welcome back to another edition of 411 Fact or Fiction MMA! I’m your host, Lorenzo Vasquez III, and it is my pleasure to bring you another round of 411 Fact or Fiction. Thank you for your votes and comments last week. It is appreciated and I encourage you to do the same this week. With that, 2016 is out the door and 2017 is in with a splash as the door may have closed on Ronda Rousey while the floodgates opened for Conor McGregor and so on. Can, or will, 2017 live up to the greatness of 2016? Only time will tell and maybe we’ll get a snapshot out of this week’s contestants. But before we move onto this week’s contest let’s look back at last week where Todd Vote challenged Alex Rella. In a solid contest, Todd came in swinging hard and keep Alex backpedaling. Alex absorbed punishment enroute to a narrow defeat but he made Todd work for his 19-to-16 victory. Congratulations Todd and thank you both for your efforts and contributions.
This week, we have a marquee contest lined up as “Handsome” Dan Plunkett steps up to challenge Evan “White Tiger” Zivin. They will lock horns over whether or not Ronda Rousey will fight again, Cody Garbrandt as 2016 fighter of the year, the outlook for the UFC 2017, and much more! It’s time. Grab some grub and have a seat because it’s time for another round of, 411 Fact or Fiction MMA! Let’s get it going…
TALE OF THE TAPE
“Handsome” Dan Plunkett
Contributor, 411 MMA Zone
Evan “White Tiger” Zivin
Contributor, 411 MMA Zone
— Marc Raimondi (@marc_raimondi) January 2, 2017
Ronda Rousey, being the competitor that she is, will not go down with a loss and will fight at least once more.
Dan Plunkett: FICTION I think there’s a better chance that she fights again than many people think, but I don’t see a return as likely. Rousey’s last two fights weren’t just emotionally devastating defeats; they were brutal losses in which she was hit in the face really hard a lot of times. Now more than ever, she realizes she’s risking her health every time she fights. Prior to the loss, she was already talking about retirement. Furthermore, she was already talking about retirement before the fight, she doesn’t need the money, and she has opportunities outside of fighting. It’s possible she’ll want to come back to prove people wrong, but Friday night was probably it.
Evan Zivin: FICTION Oh hell no. That was it. She’s done. There is no chance she is coming back. Not after what went down on Friday. She probably didn’t even want to take this fight but did it as a favor to Papa Dana and because she knew she’d never get people to leave her alone about her fighting future if she didn’t give it at least one more go just to at least show everyone that the Holly Holm fight wasn’t going to define her and that she is still one of the best fighters in the world.
Well, the good news is that the Holm fight will no longer define her. The bad news, though, is that the Amanda Nunes fight will. Man, what an embarrassment of a performance that was. She had an entire year to learn how to deal with an elite striker and she ended up looking even worse than she did before. How do you bounce back from that, especially when your entire gimmick was crafted around being undefeated and unstoppable? She’s a competitor but she’s only motivated and at her best when she’s able to beat everyone handily. She can’t do that anymore. She’s a joke now. She’d be best just to tuck her tail and say goodbye to MMA.
Well, unless she’s still interested in the Cris Cyborg payday. Man, what an ass-whuppin’ that would be…
— Women's MMA Rankings (@WMMARankings) January 2, 2017
In addition, should Rousey return, she is likely to stay with her current coach and team as her personality/mentality would not work with a top MMA coach breaking her down and high level training partners showing her humility day in day out.
Dan Plunkett: FICTION This is a tough one. I’m giving the naive answer and saying she’d switch camps when there’s no evidence in her character to say she will, just because I can’t imagine there’s anyone in the world outside of maybe 3-4 people that think Edmond Tarverdyan should be in her corner. It’s a good point that a big camp with a lot of tough training partners doesn’t seem well-suited to Ronda’s personality, but it might be the only thing that will elevate her game to where it needs to be. I’d like to think that if she returns, she’d realize she needs to make some big changes in order to succeed at the highest level again.
Evan Zivin: FACT If Ronda returns (big IF), she is staying exactly where she is. I can’t comment much on her mentality when it comes to training but it seems quite obvious that she is very comfortable where she’s at. She seems like the type of person who craves positive vibes and people telling her how awesome she is constantly (I refer to that as the BJ Penn style of coaching).
It seems like Ronda is the type who allows her emotions to dictate her passion for fighting and how much effort she wants to put into her training, which was easy when she was undefeated and beating girls up in under a minute. That all changed when she lost and, if she didn’t feel that getting her head kicked off by Holm was enough motivation to see what life could be like outside of Glendale, then she’s not leaving, especially when she’d only come back for MAYBE one more fight.
Also, due to all the loss and setbacks Ronda has suffered throughout her life, she very much seems to value loyalty above all else and, for as slimy as Edmond Taverdyan is and for as detrimental as he’s been to Ronda’s MMA career, he’s been by her side every step of the way and I think she values that over anything she could learn from a coach who actually knows how to train an MMA fighter.
Plus, Travis is there and it’s going to be hard to make his babies when she’s training somewhere else.
— SportsCenter (@SportsCenter) December 31, 2016
Cody Garbrandt, after outclassing Dominick Cruz and winning the bantamweight title, is easily the fighter of the year for 2016.
Dan Plunkett: FICTION My issue with Garbrandt easily winning fighter of the year is his competition prior to Cruz. Takeya Mizugaki isn’t the fighter he used to be, I don’t think Thomas Almeida beats anybody in the top 10, and Augusto Mendes was unproven in MMA. Don’t take this as discounting Garbrandt’s place at the top of the division – beating Dominick Cruz so decisively earned him that spot and if TJ Dillashaw can’t take it from him, I don’t have a good guess as to who will. However, my viewpoint is that the fighter of the year should ideally beat multiple opponents at the highest level throughout the year. Garbrandt beat one opponent at the highest level, but it was probably the most impressive single victory of the year. Meanwhile, Amanda Nunes beat three top bantamweights and absolutely crushed two of them. Stipe Miocic scored three first round knockouts against top heavyweights. Michael Bisping had a great year, and Conor McGregor rebounded from his loss to Nate Diaz better than anyone could have expected. I think you can make an argument for any of those fighters as having had the best year (not that I’d necessarily agree with some of them).
Evan Zivin: FICTION This all depends on how we are defining “Fighter of the Year.” I know that, in the 411 Year End Awards (which I may participate in, although I may not because I absolutely hate having to compile year end lists), there’s “Fighter of the Year” but there’s also “Breakout Fighter of the Year.” The former award tends to be for the top fighter who we consider to have had the most significant year in the sport while the latter award is more for the fighters who we didn’t know too well at the start of the year but made themselves known by the end of it.
With that thinking in mind, I believe Cody is more suited for the Breakout award, considering he went from unranked at the start of the year to the champion by the end of it. He has had, without question, one of the greatest years in UFC history.
I would agree, though, that Cody should also be in the conversation for “Fighter of the Year.” However, I don’t think I’d give him that honor because, while he’s trying to walk around like he’s the Conor McGregor of the bantamweight division, he’s not Conor McGregor, who not only set Payperview records in the three fights he had in 2016, including setting the new record for biggest Buyrate with the Nate Diaz rematch at UFC 202, he also became the first simultaneous two division champion in company history after headlining the UFC’s first event in New York since having the sport’s 20 year ban lifted.
Seriously, Cody, you had a great year and I’mma let you finish, but Conor McGregor had the best 2016 out of any fighter in the UFC.
I’m probably going to lose just for making that reference, and deservedly so…
— Ariel Helwani (@arielhelwani) December 30, 2016
Considering every active fighter who was under contract with the UFC in 2016, Johny Hendricks, has by far, taken the hardest fall.
Evan Zivin: FICTION Y’know, that’s a really hard statement to make considering the year we had and all the drug suspensions that took place. I mean, we’re talking 1-2 year bans for Jon Jones, Brock Lesnar, Lyoto Machida, Frank Mir, Chad Mendes, Gleison Tibau — GLEISON TIBAU, YOU GUYS. It’s been rough. Granted, not all those failures are equal but still, these weight classes are getting devastated ova here…
However, those are all downfalls that came about due to actions outside the Octagon. As far as what went down in it, and how hard he’s fallen over his current three fight losing streak, which should knock him out of the welterweight division (assuming it doesn’t knock him out of the UFC entirely), I wouldn’t say his fall was the hardest in 2016. It was bad but it wasn’t the hardest.
That honor I give to my cupcake, Miesha Tate. She went from winning the Women’s Bantamweight Championship in one of the most thrilling come-from-behind wins in UFC championship history to being retired after getting beat up bad in back-to-back losses to current queenpin Amanda Nunes and Raquel Pennington. She got to experience the zenith and nadir of her UFC career all in the span of 7 months. That’s crazy but at least it looks like she gets to keep her UFC analyst gig so, as hard as she fell, she still landed on her feet.
Dan Plunkett: FACT Anthony Pettis had a really tough year as well, but Johny Hendricks took it to another level. To set the stage, Hendricks lost a close decision to Georges St-Pierre about three years ago that he really should have won. Hendricks was the uncrowned champion until he won the vacant title against Robbie Lawler in a war. Then they rematched, and while Hendricks faded badly, most thought he earned the nod, but the split decision didn’t go his way. His only fight in 2015 was a win over Matt Brown, which was deemed too boring to earn a title shot. While pulling out of an October 2015 fight with Tyron Woodley due to a bad weight cut may have signaled the beginning of a downward spiral, he was still a 3-1 favorite to beat Stephen Thompson last February. Thompson destroyed him. For his return fight at UFC 200, he missed weight and lost to Kelvin Gastelum. At UFC 207, he missed weight again and lost a close fight to Neil Magny. Between the weight issues and the losses, the guy that was welterweight champion 25 months ago doesn’t even have a place in the division anymore.
New champ Cody Garbrandt says 'run it back' with Dominick Cruz, who punts to T.J. Dillashaw https://t.co/CByd3ukFYm
— MMAjunkie (@MMAjunkie) December 31, 2016
Before T.J. Dillashaw gets his UFC Bantamweight Title shot Cody Garbrandt will have to rematch Dominick Cruz.
Evan Zivin: FACT You’re asking me to predict what the next title fight at 135 is going to be, which we all know is far from an exact science. I mean, the name of the game is no longer who’s the most deserving but who is gonna make the most money. Almost every champion in 2016 was asking for money fights, which was amusing since most of those champions could hardly be considered draws themselves. Hell, Cody is already out there saying he’d like to fight Jose Aldo. The kid who was unranked a year ago and now he’s trying to call the shots.
Still, with that line of thinking, if the options are either Garbrandt vs. Cruz II or Garbrandt vs. Dillashaw, I have to think the advantage goes to the rematch as, while Cody vs. TJ is probably the most intriguing fight UFC could book from an athletic standpoint, it’s not going to do a very good buyrate because TJ isn’t a draw and neither is Cody (and he’s going to need to work on his trash talk if he ever hopes to be).
Now, Cody vs. Dominick probably won’t do a big buyrate either but it’ll perform better due to the fact that the two have a heated rivalry going, which always sells, and the fight at UFC 207 was a good, close affair, definitely close enough to warrant a rematch for the fighter who went almost 10 years without a loss and went through so much to make it back and continue his reign as the best in the world…until he was bested by some dudebro with a neck tattoo. If UFC wants to make the best stylistic matchup, Cody vs. TJ is the fight to make. If they want to make money, and we all know they want to make money, then they’re gonna run back Cody vs. Dominick one more time.
Dan Plunkett: FICTION I don’t see any reason whatsoever to rerun Garbrandt vs. Cruz right away. Garbrandt owned the fight. He was faster, he countered extremely well, and he was the better taunter. Cruz has no claim to an immediate rematch. He’s not a major draw, there was no controversy, and no big moment where he almost won. There have been instances where UFC has handed out much less deserving immediate rematches – Renan Barao challenging TJ Dillashaw comes to mind – but at this specific point, there should be more interest in Garbrandt vs. Dillashaw than Garbrandt vs. Cruz II.
If WME-IMG doesn't talk with Conor McGregor soon about his future with the UFC, this may be his next Tweet:
"Always in a round shape." pic.twitter.com/P3aADrOtrJ
— Dave Madden (@DMaddenMMA) December 24, 2016
With Conor McGregor sitting out for nearly half a year or more and Ronda Rousey’s potential retirement, the outlook for 2017 does not look as bright as 2016 was for the UFC.
Evan Zivin: FACT That depends on whether you mean financially-speaking or in regards to the level of combat.
I assumed you were referring to money with this statement, which it’s hard to argue that they won’t be struggling a bit, especially if it’s true that UFC will be without Conor for part of the year. The reason why they had such a profitable 2016 was because of Conor. There’s no one on the roster that can make up for the amount of money the company will lose if he doesn’t fight three times this year. And Ronda, while only fighting once in 2016, was still making headlines that kept the UFC’s name in the mainstream consciousness. The UFC needs that kind of exposure if the new owners hope to erase the debt they accrued buying the company or if they hope to get the bonuses they set up if they hit certain monetary milestones that will be extremely difficult to achieve without two of their top stars around.
That being said, at least the quality of the fights should still be pretty good. It seemed like the fights were getting better as the year went on, with a number of new champions being crowned and a bunch more new contenders revealing themselves to the world via a few Fight of the Year candidates. Remember how so many people didn’t expect UFC 206 to be much of anything but then it ended being so awesome that UFC got it to re-air on FOX on Christmas Eve? You better believe there is more where that came from, and we’ll get it without all those pesky Conor and Ronda bandwagon fans blocking my view of the TV screen at the bar.
Seriously, it’s not my fault I had the wherewithal to show up more than five minutes before the Payperview started so I could get a seat because I want to watch the entire show and am not not there just to take selfies so all my friends know I was there to see Ronda Rousey get mauled.
It’s 2017, people. Let’s get back to gettin’ it on.
Dan Plunkett: FACT It certainly doesn’t, that’s why they cancelled their January pay-per-view and made up a title for Holly Holm and Germaine de Randamie to fight for so they didn’t have to do the same in February. After that they’ll have most current champions ready to headline, but I can’t say with confidence that any of them will be able to draw 300,000 buys. There are some legitimate draws that are healthy enough to fight but waiting on the sidelines for various reasons (mostly money) – Georges St-Pierre, Anderson Silva, Nate Diaz, and Nick Diaz chief among them – but among those four, I’m only confidence in Silva fighting in 2017. It’s entirely possible that UFC doesn’t break 300,000 buys until July when Jon Jones is eligible to return.
Comparatively, by the end of July 2016, UFC had two million-plus buy pay-per-views, another that barely beat 300,000 buys, and the rest fell below that. Really, that should have prepared us for a period like the first half of 2017, because there are only so many mega stars (if Ronda retires there is only one left) and events like UFC 200 only come along once every seven years. As for the last five months of 2016, they had two million-plus buy shows (including reportedly their biggest-ever PPV number and by far their biggest gate ever), one Rousey fight that surely did very well, and a show with CM Punk that did relatively well.
It looks likely that the first half of 2017 won’t be big for the UFC, but it’s impossible to predict the second half of the year. Perhaps they’ll pull Brock Lesnar out of their hat, maybe Ronda Rousey will return, or they’ll put together McGregor vs. St-Pierre. For now, it looks like UFC’s 2016 will be difficult for them to top next year.
So who won? Did Dan trample Evan, or did Evan squash Dan from the get go? You’ve got until midnight eastern on Saturday to vote, so make sure you make your voice heard!
And that’s it for today but, as always, we’ll be back next week with another contest! And please, be sure to vote!
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