Went to a nice little event this past Sunday here in Okinawa at Kadena Marina. The Black Onyx Pacesetters (Okinawa Chapter) in conjunction with The Kandi Girls were running a charity bike and car wash, with proceeds going to a local Okinawan orphanage. It was a very well run event, with food and refreshments for [...]
UFC Japan 2013, and a Look Back at Ronda Rousey’s UFC 157 Win
Six days away in fact, so I’m getting pretty pumped about my annual trip up to the capital for some fighting action. It should be another good card, with almost all the Japanese and well-known Asian fighters on the card, and a few lesser-known ones keen to make a name for themselves. Then a main event featuring a legend of Pride FC in Wanderlei “The Axe Murderer” Silva, and “All-American” Brian Stann, who is sure to have the support of the US military community there, and it should be a great event.
A little worrying is that they said tickets were still available during UFC 157 on Sunday. Not too surprising as UFC 144 in Japan last year only sold out very late apparently (wondering how many tickets got given away), but the lack of any mention of ticket sales makes me a little anxious as to how many have been sold. I really want it to be another success like the last event and become a regular appearance on the calendar, as it can only be good for the sport of MMA, and especially MMA in Japan.
And while we’re talking about things being good for the sport of MMA, we should probably mention UFC 157 yesterday, and the first women’s fight in the UFC (headlining the event, no less) with Ronda Rousey (pictured right) defeating Liz Carmouche by… you guessed it, armbar in the first round. You knew it was coming, and it was just a matter of when. I actually wondered if any bookmakers would take money on it, as it was such a dead cert. First off, she is an excellent fighter and all credit to her for going to her strength (the armbar) almost right from the off. Straight away she went for the takedown and was looking for it. She had her back taken at one point and was almost in trouble, but persevered and won with about 30s to go in the first round.
It was a huge moment for the UFC and for womens’ MMA in general, but I do think it was being overplayed how much of a pioneer she has been for the sport for women (looks, personality, ability). I think Gina Carano was more of a pioneer in that regard; Strikeforce champion (until she came against a roided-up Cris Cyborg, which you can see the video of below, and wasn’t aware she was taking part in an inter-gender fight), arguably better looking that Rousey and a good media personality to boot. I think Rousey coming onto the MMA scene with a strong social media presence (the Facebook era and all that) has had a lot to do with her popularity. ”Lil Bulldog” Felice Herrig has highlighted how important social media is in gaining popularity by using it, her looks, her personality, and once again a lot of MMA skills.
Now while UFC 157 highlighted the skillset of Rousey (and in particular her armbar submission), detractors could say it shows how weak the women’s division is. Personally, I was really hoping for a Carmouche win just to really open up the women’s division, or a Rousey win by something other than armbar. A win by a rear naked choke, triangle, TKO or something that wasn’t an armbar and give people ammunition for being just a one-trick pony (albeit a trick she is damn good at).womens divisions will be in their depth. The winner of Miesha Tate (right) and Cat Zingano will fight Rousey for the title, but after what happened to Tate’s arm last time, I doubt she’ll be relishing that prospect. Strength will hopefully come, but the only person who can realistically give Rousey a run for her money is Cris Cyborg, and that’s a fight that neither are going to change weight classes for. Cyborg has said (and been backed by UFC Hall of Famer Toto Ortiz) that she can’t cut down to 135lbs (it’s been said that cutting weight is much much tougher for women than men), and Rousey has said she won’t go chasing Cyborg; she would have to come down in weight to face her.
But hopefully women’s MMA will continue to develop and evolve, as will MMA and the UFC’s presence in Japan. Which brings me back to where I started and the UFC this coming weekend at the Saitama Super Arena. I finally got my tickets from Tickebo, the supplier the UFC recommended initially, and I have to say it’s the worst ticket buying experience I’ve had in Japan. I booked tickets at the end of December, and just got my digital ticket today. After a week or 2 of receiving no ticket after paying I contacted them and asked them when I should expect to receive them. I was told that this was the “Japanese way of buying tickets” and that I should expect to receive them 2 weeks before the event. I then replied asking them that how come all of the other major ticket vendors in Japan (which I’ve used at some point over the past 9 years) don’t use this Japanese way they talked about. They then replied telling me it was to prevent ticket scalping. After asking again why no other ticket vendor here does this I got no further reply. But I’m a lot closer than last time so should be able to get some good shots of the fight and weigh-ins on Saturday morning.
Stay tuned for fight and fighter pictures from UFC Japan 2013 at the Saitama Super Arena in Tokyo, Japan, this weekend!