Five Quick Rounds 01.08.13: Invicta, Rousey, Severn, and More!
Welcome to another edition of Five Quick Rounds, 411’s fastest-finishing weekly opinion column. I’m your host, Wyatt Beougher, and as I write this column, I’ve just finished my first day back at work after 17 excellent days off. Needless to say, I’ve had better days, but let’s not let that detract from a big week of news for women’s MMA..
Round 1: Invicta 4 Results
***TOUCH OF THE GLOVES***
Saturday marked Invicta’s fourth show and first of the new year, and while there were some issues that plagued the show (which I’ll get into in the next round), the show itself was, from what I’ve read, every bit as good as their previous efforts. On the main card, Cassie Rodish defeated Stephanie Frausto via TKO in the third round, Joanne Calderwood earned a unanimous decision over Livia von Plettenberg, Ediane Gomes unanimous decisioned Hiroko Yamanaka, Sarah D’Alelio picked up a unanimous decision win over Amanda Nunes, Leslie Smith beat Raquel Pennington by unanimous decision, Alexis Davis was able to pick up a technical submission over Shayna Baszler with a rear naked choke, and, in the main event, Carla Esparza won all five rounds on all three judges’ scorecards to become Invicta’s inaugural strawweight champion, defeating Bec Hyatt.
Full disclosure time: this was the first Invicta card that I didn’t watch live, and due to getting ready to come back to work and then working, I haven’t actually had a chance to watch it yet. I did read several sets of play-by-play results today, and while that’s not going to be enough for me to offer more detailed thoughts on the show, from everything I’ve read, it did come across as a solid show, in spite of all of the decision finishes. Stephanie Frausto’s loss drops her to 4-5 overall, and I don’t imagine she’ll be matching her sister’s accomplishments inside the cage any time soon (her sister is Zoila Gurgel, Bellator strawweight champion), and Shayna Baszler’s loss moves her Invicta mark to 1-2 after a relatively impressive career to this point that had only been marred by losses to Sheborg, Sarah Kaufman, and Tara LaRosa in the past five years.
Round 2: Invicta’s iPPV Debut Marred by Poor Payment System
***TOUCH OF THE GLOVES***
Saturday was to mark Invicta’s debut on Ustream iPPV; however, numerous customers were either unable to pay the $7.95 price tag through UStream’s checkout system or were unable to access the live stream. Invicta president Shannon Knapp then requested Ustream remove the pay wall, and Invicta has since made replays of the entire main card free while offering full refunds to those fans who were actually able to purchase the event. Over the weekend, Knapp expressed her frustration in what amounted to a communication breakdown after Ustream’s payment processing system couldn’t handle the volume of requests on Saturday night. Knapp rightly pointed out that people were blaming Invicta, when the full fault lay with Ustream, and Monday, Ustream CEO Brad Hunstable apologized for the issues, while stating that the overwhelming demand for the Invicta show was what caused the system to collapse.
While I’m not sure I buy Hunstable’s statement that Invicta was the most requested iPPV that Ustream has ever offered, if the issues were in fact caused by extreme demand, then that’s definitely a good thing for the promotion going forward. My only hope is that Hunstable isn’t trying for a positive spin and that the issues will be solved for future shows. With Invicta looking towards a gradual growth model (and iPPV being the next step in that path), another disaster like this could be problematic, even if Knapp isn’t concerned financially. Of course, Round 3’s story could provide a fix for Invicta’s issues.
Round 3: Showtime to Stay Involved with MMA
**TOUCH OF THE GLOVES**
While Saturday will mark Strikeforce’s final event, as well as the end of their broadcast deal with Showtime Sports, executive vice president and general manager Stephen Espinoza has announced that it will not mark the end of Showtime Sports’ desire to air MMA programming. Espinoza said that Showtime had the option to continue broadcasting Strikeforce, but that they chose not to, and that they would continue to look for a new partner to air at least the same amount of events yearly that Strikeforce aired.
I’m not totally sold on the end of Strikeforce being Showtime’s call, as I think Dana White made it pretty clear that the relationship was over after Showtime backed out of giving him control of production for Strikeforce last year. However, as I mentioned in Round 2, this could be a huge opportunity for Invicta, although I’d say Showtime’s willingness to promote an all-women’s promotion will largely hinge on how well Ronda Rousey’s UFC debut does next month. If that deal does happen, Invicta would likely lose some measure of control over the production aspect of their shows, but Showtime could certainly improve the camera quality and bring the promotion into HD, as well as providing them with a measure of stability that they’ve yet to see with iPPV. Just a thought…
Round 4: UFC Primetime to Spotlight Rousey/Carmouche
**TOUCH OF THE GLOVES**
The UFC announced that the next edition of UFC Primetime will spotlight inaugural UFC women’s bantamweight champion Ronda Rousey and her first challenger in the Octagon, Liz Carmouche, as the two women prepare for their fight at February’s UFC 157. The three-part series will debut February 8th at midnight, and will air at the same timeslot on the two subsequent Saturdays leading up to the fight on February 23rd.
And while it’s certainly flattering to Rousey and Carmouche to be featured on the same program that has previously spotlighted fighters as widely renowned as Georges St. Pierre, Anderson Silva, BJ Penn, Brock Lesnar, Cain Velasquez, Nick Diaz, Carlos Condit, and the grudges between Rampage Jackson and Rashad Evans and Jon Jones and Evans, among others, I think the timeslot is a bit of an insult to the women. This will mark the first time that show will air at midnight (at least that not’s for the replay), and that seems like a vote of no confidence on the part of either the UFC or Fox. Rousey has the potential to be a true crossover star and was Strikeforce’s biggest draw in its final year, and Carmouche, as has been mentioned in this column previously, can draw in her own audience as a Marine and open lesbian. Why they wouldn’t feature the show at a better time is beyond me, but I don’t honestly think that this will have a significant negative impact on UFC 157’s buy rate, so hopefully if Rousey or Carmouche is featured on the show again, they’ll get the normal Primetime timeslot.
Round 5: The Beast Retires
***TOUCH OF THE GLOVES***
UFC Hall of Famer and MMA legend Dan Severn announced his retirement on the first of the year, marking the end of a distinguished 127-fight career that saw Severn finish with an amazing 101-19-7 record. Severn mentioned that he was hoping to fight Ken Shamrock, Mark Coleman, and/or Royce Gracie prior to his retirement, but with those fights not happening in 2012 as he had hoped, Severn decided it was time to call it quits. When asked about his legacy, Severn said he was most proud that he had accomplished everything that he had over the course of his career without the use of performance-enhancing drugs.
No matter how you feel about the early UFC shows (and a lot of them, in hindsight, were pretty awful prior to the Unified Rules of MMA), Severn was a pioneer of the sport and was one of its more noteworthy early stars. Along with his MMA success, “The Beast” was also a tremendously accomplished amatuer wrestler and he also achieved a fair measure of success as a professional wrestler, both in the US and in Japan. If not for Severn’s retirement, I would’ve dedicated this entire column to news that related to women’s MMA (no matter how tangentially the Showtime newsbit was), but Severn was one of my early favorites when I first got into the sport, so there was no way I could NOT dedicate this round to him. Thanks for everything, Dan.
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