UFC on Fox 16 was, on balance, a great night of fights. Joe Lauzon, out of the goodness of his heart, decided not to beat Takanori Gomi to death. Edson Barboza and Paul Felder had a spirited game of “let’s take turns kicking each other really hard and pretending not to notice.” And Renan Barao answered definitively the question of whether 14 months was enough for him to prepare and execute a different game plan against T.J. Dillashaw (answer: no).
But with every high comes the low, and in this case there are storm clouds on the horizon for both the men’s and women’s bantamweight divisions. For the former, they arrived in a bout between #6 ranked Eddie Wineland and #12 Bryan Caraway. In case you skipped the prelims, the fight went something like this:
You get the idea. Wineland, who initially looked game and agile, ended up giving an inexplicably gun-shy performance that saw him dropping a tedious decision to the flat-footed Caraway. Not good news for anyone hoping either of them could pose a credible threat to Dillashaw anytime soon, especially since the two guys next in line for T.J., Raphael Assunção and Dominick Cruz, are both perennial victims of the injury bug.
But even if men’s bantamweight has a bit of a problem with being cleaned out, compared to the women’s 135’ers it’s a veritable hoarder house full of old newspapers and rat droppings. As proof, see Miesha Tate vs. Jessica Eye:
In fairness, Tate put on a great performance. Eye was unable to strike with confidence thanks to Tate’s fake level changes, while Tate landed big shots of her own and dominated when she took the fight to the mat. It’s just that there’s “grind Jessica Eye to a decision” great, and then there’s “beating Ronda Rousey” great, and one most certainly does not imply the other. Despite her victory on Saturday, Tate’s strikes were more looping than crisp, and her measured pace seemed a poor match for Rousey’s frenetic onslaughts.
The draw of a truly dominant champion comes with a touch of schadenfreude: fans don’t watch so much for the fight itself, as for the chance to be there when a challenger unexpectedly turns out to be sublime, as Dillashaw was, or more often when the champion in question gets too full of themselves, loses their focus, or just plain cocks it up for whatever reason. But by all appearances, Rousey is a long way from Tyson vs. Douglas territory just yet.
In terms of star power, Rousey’s advantage over, say, Demetrious Johnson, is that the brutality of her finishes gives her fights a visceral thrill, despite their foregone conclusions. But at a certain point, is that really enough? How many re-re-matches will the fans have to put up with before the whole thing starts to seem a little silly?
Well, to be honest, it doesn’t matter. Ronda is Ronda, and we’d watch her armbar a 92-year-old grandma if that were the last available match in her division. She’d probably deserve it, too. Have you seen how much trans-fat is in those peanut butter cookies? Hydrogenated soybean oil kills, kids.