Thursday, January 19, 2012

Why Ronda Rousey Deserves Her Title Shot

I am no writer, and have never claimed to be. I do interviews. It's what I like to think I am..... well, at least decent at. So when I do writer, there may be bad grammar r a punctuation mark in the wrong place. The rare occasion I do actually write something that isn't an interview, it's just so I can speak what I feel. After some thinking last night, I came to a realization. I realized, I do believe Ronda Rousey getting the shot at Miesha Tate is the right way to go. So, I decided to share my thoughts on why.

I have been very quick to say I believe Sarah Kaufman deserved the shot at Tate, even told a top ten pound for pound female fighter that just two days ago. I felt Kaufman earned it more than Rousey. How did she earn it? Building up some impressive wins over good fighters, and let's not forget, she owns a victory over Tate already. But if the NFL and NBA have taught us anything of late, it's that sports are a business. MMA and the UFC/Strikeforce/Zuffa is also a business. I feel Tate vs Rousey makes business sense. Let's go back to March 2007. Did Randy Couture deserve a title shot vs Tim Sylvia? A heavyweight title shot for a guy who was 4-3 in his last seven fights.... not to mention those fights were at light heavyweight? No, he probably didn't deserve that shot. But it made for good business. And oh how we all cheered when our hero, Randy Couture won a unanimous decision to win the title. Had Brock Lesnar earned his shot at Couture? Probably not, but it made business sense. Before you are quick to bash Zuffa and Dana White, remember, they are not alone in this. How about when Pride would do their "freak show" fights. Sure, they were often fights that were unfair to one participant, but people had interest in them and paid to see them. Fact is, every sport, be it MMA, football, basketball, any of them, will always do what is financially best.

Why are we so quick to hate on Ronda? I admit, I was guilty of this myself. But in a sport where it's hard to make a living sometimes, Ronda has done what she needs to do to set herself up financially. Isn't that the American dream? Make a living doing what you love? We get mad at the things she says. We get mad that she "talked herself" into a title shot. I say, good for her, she did what she had to do to help herself financially. To me, it's no different then when I was managing a pizza shop and I did something that helped business. I made sure to tell the owner, hoping that what I did would make my pay check a little bigger. Let's go back to the fight with Julia Budd. Who was that guy holding a watch in the cage? It was "Judo" Gene LeBell. Old school pro wrestling fans will remember when the LeBell family ran their wrestling territory and had the gimmick of The Monster, a wrestler created in a laboratory. Was it a stupid gimmick? Yes!! But it was an attempt to sell tickets, make money. Let's stick with the pro wrestling theme here. It's been reported Ronda got the name "Rowdy" because she was a Roddy Piper fan growing up. Why was Piper the best heel in the sport in his hey day? Because he knew how to cut a promo and make you hate him. The more you hated him, the more money you would pay to see baby faces like Hulk Hogan, Jimmy Snuka or even Mr. T beat him. I see that in Ronda Rousey. She is willing to play the heel, the bad guy to drum up more interest in her fight and make it a bigger event, and in the end profit more. Let's not forget the more interest in her fight, the better it is for her opponent as well. As Muhammad Ali once said "the more people hate me, the more they will pay to see someone beat me".

Everyone involved in women's MMA is talking about Tate vs Rousey, but so are a lot of people who don't follow the women's side of the sport. If Tate was fighting Kaufman, would that happen? Sure the supporters of women's MMA would be talking, but outside of that, there would be little or no interest. In the long run, I think this is good for women's MMA. If Rousey wins people who don't like her, keep paying or watching hoping the next girl beats her. If she wins, she wins in front of her biggest audience and becomes a bigger name and maybe propels women's MMA to bigger heights. If she looses, well her haters can say "I told you so" and we will still have people talking about the women's side of the sport. Plus, if she looses, Miesha wins in front of a big audience, becomes more well known, and perhaps gets more attention for her next fight with the winner of Sarah Kaufman vs Alexis Davis.

I know I won't change the minds of the purists who want to see Kaufman get the shot because they feel they deserve it. Quite frankly, I don't want to change anyones mind. If everyone agreed, what would the fun be in that? Healthy debate is good for the sport because it helps provide interest. We all have our opinions and are entitled to them. Opinions are never wrong. I was one of those "purists" who want Kaufman to get the title shot. But, I was also a purist who hated when MLB started inter-league play and when they introduced the wild card. But over time, I have realized it's good for business. For example, me living in Cleveland, seeing teams from the National League come here can entice me to pay to go see a game when I may normally not because I get to see a team I never got to see come here. Or the wild card keeps a few extra teams in the post season hunt, and helps teams get a few more fans to pay to come see a game they normally might not pay for if there team was out of the post season hunt. In this case, I have changed my tune on Ronda, because she has garnered more interest in women's MMA. There will be people buying tickets or turning on Showtime to watch. People who without Ronda wouldn't have paid for that ticket or wouldn't have been watching the card on television.

I am just one guy. One guy who wants to see the sport grow. In my opinion, Ronda Rousey helps the sport grow.

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