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With Ronda Rousey and the UFC, life is reality TV

By Zach Arnold | May 28, 2013

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Dana is all smiles. Click the image to view the Fox Sports video.

“It’s unfortunate for Cat, her injury, but the UFC’s all about opportunities and I was so stoked when I heard that I was going to get the potential spot, you know, to coach not only coach against Ronda, you know, and our rivalry I think makes for better TV and I get to fight her again. So, I’m stoked all around.”

And then there’s Ronda.

“I’ve said it within the same sentence that, you know, I think she’s entirely legit but I don’t really feel bad about hitting her.

“I’m actually honored to be coaching [opposite of] her on the show and I think that this is really what was fated to happen and I’m really lucky to have a rival like her. If I didn’t have her around, I would suffer.”

It’s been an interesting year for UFC when it comes to making money. One of the issues of interest for Lorenzo Fertitta is his online poker play, Ultimate Poker. UFC 160 PPV watchers were greeted with a mini-infomercial about the project.

With injuries & veteran fighters retiring, ensuring the ability to draw cash on PPV and combining it with ratings success on Fox media platforms has never been more key. Ronda Rousey is now a top-five PPV meal ticket for Zuffa. She’s a much more talented, skilled version of Gina Carano and at times can be a hyperbolic promoter in the mold of Hulk Hogan when it comes to making claims. Read Kevin Iole’s Yahoo article from Tuesday to see her throwing out Ali & Frazier analogies about her feud with Miesha Tate.

Gary Shaw said he was in the Gina Carano business and the UFC is in the Ronda Rousey business.

The UFC needs to desperately kick-start some life into the expired, played-out Ultimate Fighter reality show. Given that it’s launching on Fox Sports 1, they went with a Real World format and went with co-eds. They wanted Rousey and Miesha Tate as coaches. At the end of it all, they would fight as a top PPV match for the year-end December show in Las Vegas. So, there was a match between Tate and Cat Zingano in Las Vegas and Zingano blasted her for the win. It ended up being Rousey and Zingano as coaches.

Image of ACL surgery from Cat Zingano’s Twitter feed (click picture for bigger version)

Kevin Iole reported that Zingano needed ACL surgery and that Tate would replace her as a coach on the show. The angle UFC is pushing to the masses is that Rousey was upset and thought she was getting replaced, which makes zero sense logically-speaking.

Nevertheless, that’s the company line and the organization is trying to save a reality show that’s way past its date for usefulness. So, now we have Tate vs. Rousey (again) and we’ll have more ‘drama’ involving Bryan Caraway. If he’s not getting heat for being second-fiddle to Tate, then he’s getting heat for rubbing others the wrong way. We’ll be spoon fed talking points from Tate that she got ‘cheated’ by Kim Winslow during the Zingano fight but none of it will matter because Rousey will be such a huge favorite to win the December fight.

The whole thing is uninteresting BS but I get why they’re pushing it. It’s the same reason they pushed the testosterone king, Chael Sonnen, for the Jersey fight. Right now, they’re on fumes and they need anything that can attract PPV buys no matter how much credibility is sacrificed. If there is one important takeaway, it’s the fact that UFC is certainly become more… selective… when it comes to pushing fighters and holding some fighters to a higher (or lower) standard on the issue of wins/losses in order to get a title shot.

The irony about what’s going on here with UFC needing more star power is that The Ultimate Fighter was supposed to be a showcase to find new stars & elevate them to become players in the company. Now, the show simply attracts fighters who the UFC has decided not to sign as free agents in the first place… which means very few of the winners from the show have long-term success in the UFC and the show becomes irrelevant in the minds of fans at home. Now the show’s only purpose is simply to maintain a rating to keep the cable property going and to promote a super fight between the coaches.

Topics: Media, MMA, UFC, Zach Arnold | 27 Comments » | Permalink | Trackback |

27 Responses to “With Ronda Rousey and the UFC, life is reality TV”

  1. 45 Huddle says:

    After the complete BS that were the title shots for Nick Diaz & Chael Sonnen in 2013…. The UFC really was getting their stuff together… Upcoming rumored men’s title fights…

    Cain/JDS 3, Jones/Gustafsson, Silva/Weidman, GSP/Hendrick, Henderson/Grant, Aldo/Pettis, & Johnson/Moraga.

    All of these fights are very credible title fights and all represent a very positive direction for the UFC Championships. Zuffa is even giving title shots to guys who aren’t the biggest draws but have earned it.

    Then there is Rousey/Tate 2. This one isn’t as clear cut as the pure and utter garbage that was Diaz & Sonnen Title Shots. In those cases, there were others fighters that deserved a title shot who were passed over. Is there really anybody else that is even remotely known by the fans that can fight Rousey right now? Not really. McMann doesn’t seem to want a title shot right now. Plus, Zuffa needs to promote TUF, and finding a random girl isn’t going to work.

    This is a case where I think a fighter coming off a loss to get a title shot is bad, but under the circumstances it isn’t half as bad as some of the other recent examples. Plus, it’s not like this was their first choice like Diaz & Sonnen. This is an injury replacement.


    But make no mistake about it…. Moving forward, fighters should have wins in their own weight classes to get title shots….


    Many people, including myself have been saying it for a few years….. TUF needs to end. It serves no purpose right now. It does not create future stars and it delays title fights longer then it should.

    The writing is on the wall. The UFC will eventually go to a weekly fight series on Wednesday Nights on FOX Sports 1. Perhaps not 50 shows a year, but I could easily see them starting with 30 shows and working it up from there.

    • The Gaijin says:

      ^That was as “good” a roadmap to rationalizing something you have KILLED everyone else for as I have ever seen.

      • The Gaijin says:

        And I am not trying to be a dick or troll you, but the UFC has the DEEPEST roster in the history of MMA, by far. There is NO reason they need to keep hotshotting titleshots to guys/girls coming off of losses other than it’s purely pro wrestling/PRIDE-style matchmaking to “draw”. This whole “they’re in a jam” is a f**king smokescreen.

        They could have done co-eds with two other fighters and found someone else for Rousey. For the love of god, they have guys that aren’t champs that could host this show too can’t they? And don’t they have a relationship with Invicta? Could they not pull Coenen or someone from there that’s got a few W’s in a row?

        • 45 Huddle says:

          They do have deep rosters…. but not at female bantamweight.

          They have had 6 women fight total. And of the 3 winners, 1 of them is injured and 1 of them does not want a title fight yet.

          NOt to mention that injury replacements always get a little more leeway. If this was their first choice then they deserved to get wrecked for it.

        • 45 Huddle says:

          And they cannot get rid of Rousey. She already is there for the taping. To can her now would make a much worse problem.

          And they do not even have Coenen signed and she fights in a different weight class.

          This is why the move is at least remotely acceptable while the Diaz/Sonnen ones were pure trash. They are too far into the process and the injury painted them into a corner at a time when the division was just getting started.

          It is still not optimal. No one denying it. But to try and put it in the same league as the other unworthy title shots is laughable.

  2. Muscle Hamster says:

    I have also been wondering how Dana White is going to stop kids from riding their parents’ Harleys and drinking all of their Bud Light.

  3. Jim says:

    I’m the last guy to stick up for the UFC et. al. but the tweet about online poker is the height of stupidity. When you evoke the ‘what about the children’ nonsens’e you’ve really run out of things to say. Very nice of MMA on the Reg’ to worry so much about the children of Nevada but I’d suggest he stick to MMA coverage.

    FWIW, the Ultimate Poker security borders on absurd. If Junior wrangles a credit card in his name and gets his own cellphone to geolocate with while he plays more power to him.

    • Jeff Montelongo says:

      I agree. That tweet by @mmaonthereg was soaked in self-righteousness & desperation for attention. And of all the issues to attack the UFC on, online gambling??? Talk about trying to fight with someone over something irrelevant. Does @mmaonthereg not realize that MMA is a sport where the objective is to bash your opponent’s head until they are unconscious? Nevermind that, we need Dana to explain himself on ONLINE GAMBLING. What a hack.

    • Light23 says:

      It’s especially dumb because the poker industry already probably has a handle on this.

      Tons of websites require you to scan your ID and send it to them.

  4. Jeff Montelongo says:

    I’m responding to those tweets posted here bashing UFC’s matchmaking. They’re doing a little something called MAKING MONEY. The fact is this is a business before it’s a sport. The sport does not and will not exist unless it’s a business first. The IFL tried otherwise and it failed. Zuffa tried doing it with pre-TUF and they were losing money and on the road to extinction. And I’ll tell you what, the fact that it’s a business first and a sport second is what’s best for the sport. You’re not going to attract the best athletes in the world to the sport unless you show them the money and the short-term and long-term financial opportunities and security it can present. And how do you do that? YOU MAKE MONEY FIRST!!! The money comes before the respect.

    The self-righteous and holier than thou indignation of these sports writers and hardcore fans who say otherwise with their “good for the sport” mantra thinking their way of thinking & faith is narcissistic and shallow.

    • Muscle Hamster says:

      Sport and spectacle always need to be balanced.

      I think it’s difficult to argue that the UFC isn’t making money.

      The thing about getting rich, is that you want to get even richer. I don’t fault them for that.

      But, the UFC’s growth was predicated on the (organization’s) best continually fighting the best. Longtime fans are used to title challengers often being on 3-7 fight win streaks.

  5. david m says:

    BJ Penn vs anyone at 155 or 170 would draw more than any fight Bore Henderson could ever have against anyone but BJ or GSP. If you don’t like the fights, don’t buy them. Chael vs JJ was silly, but they did it to try to save TUF. Chael can talk his ass off; UFC desperately wants to revive interest in their stale ass reality show.

    Nick Diaz vs GSP drew huge numbers and was the fight most mma fans wanted to see. Complaining about that fight is the height of fucking stupidity. 2 of the best WWs on Earth, who hate each other and have huge fan followings is PERFECT MATCH-MAKING. People need to get off their fucking high horses.

    Frankie Edgar got a title shot after losing a fight to Bore Henderson that EVERYONE thought he won. He proceeded to lose a razor close decision to Aldo that many people (myself included) thought he won. Complaining about these fights is the height of insidious high-brow internet fans who think they know everything. Question: who could Aldo have fought who was as credible or would have drawn as many fans as Frankie Edgar??

    As for the women, nobody cares. Ronda Rousey never even beat anyone to become champion; literally if she loses, there would no longer be women’s mma on the UFC. Nobody. CARES. AT ALL.

    • edub says:

      I’v ethought that they should give BJ an “out of nowhere” title shot at 155 since he lost to Rory, and Pettis decided to go down to 145 for Aldo. You could do the whole thing similar to bringing Couture in to beat Sylvia back a few year ago (“I know I can beat this guy” blah blah blah).

      Sad thing is I actually think he’d win, or at least give Ben problems early.

  6. Giraffe Man says:

    I thought boxing complainers were bad but complaining about Nick Diaz vs GSP is not only ridiculous, it’s crazy!

    Nick “lost” a razor thin CONTROVERSIAL decision to the top guy in Condit and fans deem Diaz-GSP as crap?

    That is stupidity at it’s finest.

    GSP can fight Hendricks next so there’s absolutely no reason to cry about anything. WOW

  7. Zach Arnold says:

    On the same night that Canelo vs. Mayweather (9/14 Las Vegas) was announced, UFC announces Josh Barnett vs. Frank Mir for Milwaukee. Also, Jones/Gustafsson perhaps on the same show.

    • 45 Huddle says:

      All 3 of those fights are really good.

      I think Canelo beats Mayweather.

      Mir vs. Barnett is nearly impossible to predict. Both are older and that fight could go a million different ways. Heck, I thought Nogueira was going to beat Mir both times, and Mir surprised me with each win. I could see the fight being ultra exciting to super boring….

      Gustafsson might not have that big win to have earned a shot, but he is Top 10. And he is basically the same size as Jones. Jones has beaten a bunch of smaller guys so far, so him fighting a Top Tier guy who is his same size is very intriguing.

      • The Gaijin says:

        “Mir vs. Barnett is nearly impossible to predict. Both are older and that fight could go a million different ways. Heck, I thought Nogueira was going to beat Mir both times, and Mir surprised me with each win. I could see the fight being ultra exciting to super boring….”

        I am SO stoked for this fight, at least on paper. As you’ve noted it has the potential to be a wicked awesome fight, but it could be a total snore if they try to get clinchy and technical (see Mir-Cro Cop/Cro Cop – Barnett II: Dickkick Boogaloo).

  8. Megatherium says:

    Barnett vs Mir is an interesting fight, one I’ve wanted to see for ages.

  9. david m says:

    Canelo v Floyd is biggest boxing match since Floyd v Oscar. I think Canelo is going to light his ass up.

    Barnett v Mir would have been great 8 years ago. Now both guys are way past their prime, although still relevant given the paucity of talent in the HW division.

  10. Chris says:

    Dont see the problem with this, this is the best choice they could make.

    Also correct me if I’m wrong but Snowden says it has happened 5 times, hasnt it actually happened 9 times?

    Fans complaining about Diaz or Sonnen getting shots I understand, Sonnen getting a shot was a joke but this I dont think you can put this one along side those. Sure its still a fighter coming off a loss but its the number 3 BW in wmma, a fighter who was just in a number 1 contender fight and won the first two rounds, is the biggest name in the div after Ronda and has a history with Ronda.

    Only other option is McMann who isnt ready for that fight, still needs to be built up and is basically a complete unknown to most fans.

    • Jonathan Snowden says:

      I didn’t count champions getting immediate return matches. While they may technically be fighters coming off a loss, I don’t know that it’s fair to consider them in the same way.

      • Jonathan Snowden says:

        So I looked into this further. Here’s what I found—21 title fights awarded to a fighter coming off a loss.

        • Chris says:

          Thats way more than I thought, good job researching it.

        • RST says:

          Do dark era references make it right? Has ufc matchmaking gotten any better since 1997? Its true that in the example of 205-265 that there are only so many dudes. Thats why you have to play them VERY CAREFULLY! Another round was necessary instead of throwing Bigfoot under Cain too soon!

          I’ll take your word for wmma… I have no opinion on that…

      • Chris says:

        Hasnt it happened 14 times if you count champ rematches?

        Are these correct?

        Eilers vs AA
        Rizzo vs Randy rematch.
        Randy at HW vs Tim coming off LHW loss to Chuck
        Randy at LHW vs Vitor after losing via cut
        Sonnen at LHW vs Jones
        Diaz at WW vs GSP
        Tate vs Ronda upcoming.
        BJ at WW vs Hughes
        BJ at LW rematch vs Edgar
        Edgar vs Bendo rematch
        Edgar vs Aldo at FW
        AA vs Tim in champ rematch
        Hendo at MW vs Silva to unify belts coming off LHW title loss.
        Shogun vs Machida, controversial fight, Shogun rematch.

        • edub says:

          Randy also lost to V. Overeem right before defending his title against Rizzo in the UFC. Also lost to Barnett (technically since they never overturned it for the roid test failure) right before losing to Ricco.

        • RST says:

          There is no justification. Sometimes there are only two dudes and its only a pretense to wait. But despite that, you should to wait. To respect the sport. The least you can do is to come off of a win. But thats never been the shlubs fault…


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