Sunday Morning Coming Down – UFC 207 on my mind
Last night UFC 207 took place in Las Vegas, and it was quite a night, for a number of reasons. Garbrandt became a champion, fulfilling a dream. Ronda Rousey came back to the sport she helped build, and found out fairly quickly the landscape has changed. Mike Goldberg, the longtime play by play voice of the UFC bid farewell. Joe Silva called it a career after decades making MMA magic. Forgive me if I wander a bit, but I’ve got a lot on my mind.
Cody Garbrandt gets it done…….And New!!!!
Cody Garbrandt and Dominick Cruz have been at each others throats for weeks. This week however, was particularly contentious and when it was time for the two of them to step in the Octagon and settle things, they didn’t disappoint. The two Bantamweights kept the pace high, and both landed shots over the course of 25 frenetic minutes.
Everyone expected Cody to come in and swing wildly while Cruz forced him to miss, and fired back counter punches. That said, Garbrandt who showed an inability to stay calm all week, did so in the Octagon. He waited on Cruz, didn’t get wild, countered very himself and landed the heavier more telling shots as the rounds went by.
Cody knocked Cruz down on a number of occasions, and had the lone takedown on the contest. They came in as brutal, bitter enemies and left with respect and a level of admiration for each other and what they’d both been through. When it was all said and done, and the Octagon helped solve disputes, as it often does, Cody Garbrandt was given the deserving unanimous decision victory, and the Bantamweight belt secured around his waist.
I have to admit, seeing him capture the title and in doing so live his dream was an emotional moment for me. When he placed the belt on his young friend and number one fan, Maddox, who has survived leukemia it got a little misty.
Cody Garbrandt and TJ Dillashaw will have a million story lines build into it, and should be an absolutely barn-burner, but for now, let’s let Cody and Maddox celebrate knowing he fulfilled two dreams in one night, and that ain’t too shabby.
Gone and not Forgotten
Mike Goldberg has been calling the action for the UFC since 1997. It was way back at UFC 15.5 Ultimate Japan and since then, he’s been the play by play man, and for the Zuffa portion of the UFC’s history, he shared the both with Joe Rogan. The two have been cheered, booed, told they are the best, told they sucked…its pretty much the status quo in MMA. He’s been known to botch a line or two from time to time, but being a play by play guy is one of those jobs that people assume is easy, but it’s not. He has people in his ear, all the time, he is responsible for calling the action, event after event, not for the seasoned viewer, but directed towards the novice, watching for the first time…..all the while being told to plug the latest PPV, Fox Sports Card or movie tie in that the UFC is co promoting. He’s done it with class, and he deserved to call his last event and get a send off deserving of someone who put in nearly 20 years with the company. Before there was a Fertitta, a Dana White, or any of the new guys from WME, there was Goldie.
I would have liked to see something honoring his exit. Maybe something from Rogan, just to say thanks to the guy who’s sat in the chair next to him, calling fights from all over the world, and seemingly having done so with a smile, and a great sense of humor. The new UFC…well, I am not altogether sure I like it. It seems more cutthroat and cold. Goldie deserved better. Hopefully he lands on his feet and goes on to bigger and better things. He’s a great guy, and he deserves it.
If the rumors that Jim Rome is taking his place are true, well, that’s a shame. Jon Anik should be slid into the position as he’s great at the job and has put in the time. The decision makers at the UFC are changing the game, that’s for sure. Time will tell if it is for the better.
Say it ain’t so, Joe!
Known as the matchmaker in the UFC, Joe Silva’s job description is much more involved. He’s done as much as anyone to help the UFC blossom under Zuffa into a company capable of drawing a 4 plus billion dollar sale. He’s part matchmaker, part promoter, part scout, part voice of reason, and he’s going to be missed sorely by the folks at the UFC.
Joe has been with the company for some 20 years now, and with the buyout complete, he can retire and ride off into the sunset. Good for him, he deserves it. He’s worked tirelessly over the years and cared as genuinely about the sport as anyone has and was always willing to do what was necessary to make things go smoothly.
Here’s a little something about Joe Silva, that I won’t forget. Back in 2000, I was writing for Sherdog.com and had a weekly column called, “The Midweek Grind.” Nobody knew who I was, hell, nobody knows who I am now, and after I wrote a less than glowing preview of UFC 33, Joe Silva tracked me down on the phone, at my day job! I remember sitting at my desk, and the receptionist paged me, “Hey Dan, there’s a Joe Silva on line 3 from the UFC.” I froze in my chair and stared at the blinking light.
I picked up the call, and he was super fair, and super nice, but wanted me to know he felt my article was unfair and somewhat misguided. We talked about it, and we agreed that I was a little snarky in my preview of the show, and I met and shook his hand at the event and only heard from one other time, and it was to say he liked something I wrote. I consider it to be an amazing compliment to this day.
Joe Silva is good people, and he’s deserving of a life spent away from his phone, laptop, second phone and computer. UFC 207 will be remembered likely for the return of Ronda Rousey, but it was also an end of an era, and I’ll remember that as well.
The Return of the Queen – Ronda steps back into the Octagon
Ronda Rousey is a superstar, that isn’t at dispute. She’s a legend in the sport of MMA and did so much for the women in the sport. She transcended the sport as well, finding fame outside of the cage, and was on top of the world. Then she lost to Holly Holm at it seemingly came crashing down. When you have everything and lose, I imagine it’s easy to believe that you’ve lost everything…not just a fight. You lose your identity as a world champion, the best ever, an unbeatable icon. You fall to earth and find out that you too are in fact mortal. It has to be crushing. Ronda fell, and she fell hard. The internet was brutal, absolutely shameful in how they treated her. They wrote to her saying she sucked, she was washed up, all hype etc. They attacked both her mom and her sister on social media. It was a bloodbath, and as a result, Ronda went into self-preservation mode, and disappeared for a bit.
People wondered if she’d ever come back to the UFC and those questions were answered in October when Dana White announced she’d be back to face UFC Champion Amanda Nunes at UFC 207 a few days after Christmas. The queen of MMA was coming back to claim her spot atop the throne. We waited, patiently, and she decided to not do any media leading up to the fight. It was an odd move, but people felt like it was what she needed, so they allowed it. Meanwhile, the UFC made no mention on her opponent, Amanda Nunes and as the fight approached, it seemed almost under the radar, or not as important as it should be.
She entered the cage at UFC 207 and from the get go, she was in big trouble. Her coach Edmond, draped in failure, shouted “head movement, head movement, no … clinch…no, no, no,” like any good cornerman would. I mean, who needs coherent advice when you can just sputter out sentence fragments at the top of your lungs machine gun style? I mean, she has to be used to it by now, she’s been saddled with this deadbeat for years. He’s served as the albatross around her neck once again, and this time, it could very likely be the last time.
Ronda Rousey didn’t just lose last night. She was battered from pillar to post. She was tagged with 27 significant strikes in 48 seconds, en route to being stopped. It was a fight that I couldn’t wait to see, and a fight I hated to watch. It’s difficult to see people attempt to reach for the loftiest goals, and come up short. It hurts more when you know how defeat feels to her. She’s a legend, she’s a millionaire, and she has a great family around her. I am hoping people are less likely to be idiots to her again, but sadly, it comes with the highest levels of fame. People revel in other people’s failure. It’s sad, and particularly rampant in MMA fans.
If that was indeed the last walk to the Octagon by Ronda Rousey, let me say thank you for making it. You make the sport I love more interesting, and your career achievements are beyond amazing. You’re legacy is secure, and if you choose to call it a career, just know your fans will follow you to whatever you pursue in the future. So will your detractors, as they say, the fleas come with the dog. Best of luck to you and hope to see you out and about sooner rather than later.
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