UFC 157: Making History
Words by ALar
If you have any sort of connection to the sports world, I assume you already know that two women are going to fight for the first time in the Octagon this weekend. Women’s Champ Ronda Rousey will be taking on challenger Liz Carmouche in the Main Event of tonight’s Pay-Per-View. This is a landmark occasion for the sport, but this first women’s bout doesn’t guarantee a bright future for the gender in the UFC. With the UFC openly proclaiming that they are in the ‘Ronda Rousey’ business and not the women’s MMA business, Saturday will be Ronda’s first test to see if she can support a whole gender on her shoulders.
In the Co-main event of the night, Dan Henderson will be taking on Lyoto Machida for a shot at the Light Heavyweight strap. This bout takes on a special meaning here at MoaiMartialArts, as the boss man is a big time Lyoto Machida fan, while I consider myself to be a Hendo fan boy. Sadly, we will not be able to watch the fights together on Saturday, but I can describe to you the scenes from each of our humble abodes as Hendo and the Dragon tangle on Saturday night. The Boss will likely be dressed in his freshest gi, surrounded by jars of his own urine, and performing katas until the bell rings. I on the other hand, will be donning a Clinch Gear ‘Team Hendo’ T-Shirt and slugging Budweisers like a young Hendo at a TGI Fridays Happy Hour. Instead of previewing the fights in depth (I’ll still throw my picks your way!), I figured I would dive in to some of the bigger issues surrounding these scraps. Let’s get to it!
Dan Henderson v. Lyoto Machida
As I said before, we are a divided household on this one here at headquarters. I’ll make a pick a little later, but I want to get a few things off my chest about the issues swirling around this one. First, TRT. Hendo is the godfather of Testosterone replacement therapy. He has been getting injected since 2007 and has been vocal about his need for the supplement. He has also been an outspoken proponent of additional testing for TRT users in order to assure they remain with their ‘limits’ in the lead up to the fight. If we want to find some sort of silver lining here as fans of the sport, Hendo may be one of the ‘good’ guys using TRT. Unlike others, he claims he actually needs TRT to function normally and isn’t using it to keep his run going as an elite fighter. Dana White himself unleashed a fiery tirade against TRT recently and we can expect the UFC’s drug testing landscape to change drastically in the immediate future. I think we can all come to agreement that Hendo at 42 at least has a plausible case to need TRT, unlike other fighters who made need the stuff to make up for poor decisions in their past….
The other issue at hand when the Dragon and Hollywood Hendo clash Saturday night will be that of the Light Heavyweight title.
After the catastrophe that was 151 , Chael Sonnen somehow landed himself a shot at the strap in April. Dana White has said that the winner of this fight will earn themselves a title shot against the winner of Jones/Sonnen. For all we know, Alexander Gustaffson could starch Gegard Mousasi in Sweden and the lanky Swede will announce himself as the new number one contender. Machida has had his turn against Jones, and we all know how that went, and I doubt an aging Hendo really stands much of a chance against Bones, but we will see if Dana’s word holds up.
As for the fight, I am very, very scared for my guy Hendo’s chances. We haven’t seen him in action for over a year, and in that time he has had to overcome a major knee injury. To face off against someone as agile and evasive as Machida is not ideal for the former PRIDE champ. The advantage that the old guy has is that this fight is only three rounds. We saw him slug through the last two rounds against Shogun as if he was only being kept upright by pure will, grit, and badassery. If Hendo is to win, he needs to push the pace and get in Machida’s face. He can’t let the Dragon move in and out and pick when he throws his strikes. If Hendo makes this ugly (and I mean our webmaster in a tutu ugly) I can see him earning a decision win much like Shogun did (Twice…) against the Dragon. I hate to say it, but Lyoto simply has way more ways to win this one than Henderson. We saw what Machida did against another aging wrestler in Randy Couture, and that image has to have Hendo fans like myself shaking in their boots. Lyoto has speed, skill, and athleticism on his side, but I am afraid that I am going to pick with my heart over my mind here. Hendo avoids the Dragon’s strikes and makes this a dirty boxing match. Sprinkle in a few takedowns and the 42 year old takes a decision. Henderson by decision.
Women’s Bantamweight Championship
Champ Ronda Rousey v. Liz Carmouche
As much as the purists out there don’t like to admit it, the UFC is in the Ronda Rousey business. Women’s MMA within the organization will go as far as she can take it. She is a budding star not only in MMA, but in sports in general. Dana said this week that she has garnered more major media attention than any other athlete that the organization has ever been in business with, including former Heavyweight Champion Brock Lesnar. Rousey is the face of women’s MMA, and lets face it, if you are in the women’s MMA business Rousey isn’t a bad face to have at the head of the pack.
In the unfortunate role of opponent tomorrow night we have Liz Carmouche. She may not be as skilled as Rousey but you have to respect the hell out of her credentials. She served three tours in Iraq and has become the first openly gay fighter in the ranks of the UFC. Neither of those achievements should be scoffed at, but after the fight Saturday, she may be a mere afterthought when the reign of Rousey is dissected. Carmouche is tough as nails and has a well rounded arsenal that would pose a threat to almost any other woman in the world, but not Ronda. Carmouche will undoubtedly go out there tonight and give Rousey her best shot, but Ronda is just on a whole different planet athletically and skill wise. I expect nothing less than a first round armbar from Rousey. The spectacle of the first women’s fight in the UFC will provide for a landmark night of fights for fans across the globe. Rousey by 1st Round Armbar.
Don’t forget to follow us on Twitter! If you are lucky you may catch some fight night banter between yours truly and the bossman…