UFC women's bantamweight champ Ronda Rousey.
Who doesn't love some good old Olympian-on-Olympian violence?
As the Sochi Winter Games draw to a close, sports fans received some bonus Olympic action at UFC 170, where 2008 judo bronze medalist Ronda Rousey put her UFC women's bantamweight title on the line against 2004 wrestling silver medalist Sara McMann.
It also presented an interesting contrast in grappling styles. The takedowns and overall defense of a wrestler against the throws, trips and submissions of a judoka. In that way, the matchup is a throwback to MMA's early days, when competitors brought contrasting specialties into the cage to determine whose style reigned supreme.
It all combines to provide the air of something you'd find painted on an ancient vase. But the combat arts didn't begin with the main event.
In the evening's co-main event, yet another Olympian, world-class wrestler Daniel Cormier, took on a late injury replacement in ex-coffee shop employee Patrick Cummins. During fight week, Cummins did everything he could to get in Cormier's head, but it wasn't enough to budge the betting lines, which had Cormier has a massive favorite to win his light heavyweight debut.
You can punch up the final stat lines anytime, anywhere. But the basic facts only reveal so much. Here are the real winners and losers from across the card at UFC 170.
The champ just keeps on rolling.
Another win, another first-round stoppage for Ronda Rousey. This one in just 66 seconds. But there was a wrinkle at UFC 170. Whereas all eight of her previous fights ended in an armbar submission win (and seven of those in the opening stanza), this one ended in a knockout.
In fact, the stoppage set a record for the fledgling division, according to the UFC:
.@RondaRousey's KO/TKO at 1:06 is the fastest in UFC women's BW history. Rousey is the 1st female to record a knockdown in her division.— UFC (@ufc) February 23, 2014
McMann came out swinging, and for a second looked like the challenger might have hurt Rousey. But Rousey regrouped and initiated a clinch against the cage wall. A few knee strikes ensued, and she put one directly on McMann's liver that felled McMann and demanded a fast stoppage.
Rousey's comments afterward indicated the liver shot was part of her arsenal coming into the evening.
"We trained it a lot," Rousey said of the body shot during the event's post-fight news conference (broadcast by the UFC). "It was just a goal that I had...To my coach, I promised him I was really going to try [a body shot], and I'm really happy I could do that for him tonight."
Rousey is now 9-0 and still just 27 years old. And it doesn't look like anyone currently signed with the UFC poses any significant threat to her in the octagon. Fans hoping for a serious challenge for Rousey may have to hope that the Cristiane "Cyborg" Justino talk jumps off the rumor page and into reality. Otherwise, there doesn't seem to be anyone out there who can touch the queen.
It was a cool strategy by Sara McMann.
Don't wait for Ronda Rousey to dictate the terms of engagement. McMann took the center of the octagon and swung, tagging Rousey with a heavy right and seeming to stun the champ.
McMann kept swinging, but Rousey stayed composed and pushed the action to the fence. There, McMann fell heavily from a knee to the liver, and referee Herb Dean called a stop.
The stoppage might have been a touch premature, but better too early than too late, and McMann was not exactly vigorous in her self-defense at the moment.
"I got hit in the liver, and no matter how hard you train you can't make your liver stronger," McMann told broadcaster Joe Rogan in the cage after the fight. "...I was trying to get back up, but it's my own fault. If you see a fighter drop, you have to protect us."
It was McMann's first loss in pro MMA. The 33-year-old is now 7-1 overall and 1-1 in the UFC. The Olympian will surely be back, and she's a likable and talented person, but she wasn't equal to the champ. Then again, no one is.
Patrick Cummins woke up a beast at UFC 170.
In his debut in the light heavyweight division, Daniel Cormier hammered the overmatched Cummins into a corner and then into a TKO stoppage in less than 80 seconds. It was clean, it was efficient, it was violent and it was convincing.
Everyone knows about Cormier's international wrestling reputation, but he showed Saturday that his accurate and powerful striking is also a force to be reckoned with. The 34-year-old is now 14-0 as a pro MMA fighter, and the sky appears to be the limit in his new home in the 205-pound division.
During fight week, Patrick Cummins played the heel. On fight night, he played the fool.
Give credit to Cummins, largely unknown two weeks ago, for stepping up to face Daniel Cormier when no one else would or could. And give him credit for stirring up some heat for the matchup by revealing to the public that he had once made Cormier cry during a wrestling practice.
The revelation angered Cormier, not only because it constituted a breach of privacy but because the sparring and crying in question happened for reasons other than the wrestling itself.
But it mattered not to Cummins, who wore his best dirt-eating grin to every fight week event and generally soaked up the villain role, calling for the upset and comparing himself to Rocky Balboa at every turn.
Good on him. But if you're going to talk, you should probably back it up. Cummins didn't on Saturday night. He had nothing for Cormier and was dispatched cleanly and emphatically in the very first round.
Hope you kept that coffee grinder in good working order, Patrick.
Yes, the main and co-main events ended quickly. But that doesn't mean fans didn't get their money's worth.
Cormier continued his overall dominance and settled what, in retrospect, appeared to be a very personal score with Cummins. He also notched his first UFC stoppage win.
Rousey's fight ended in barely more than a minute, but it was the champ's first knockout win, and while it came suddenly, was memorable for its record-breaking efficiency.
There were several decisions on the card (more on those in a second), but most of those were evenly matched and well paced. There were also several impressive stoppage wins.
The evening was not as star-studded as other cards, as fraught with historical implications or as competitive at the top, but fans who did shell out still got to watch some true elites do their thing at a truly elite level. And isn't that why we tune in?
Rory MacDonald is the Mark Zuckerberg of the UFC.
Like the famous Facebook founder, MacDonald is gifted, a hard worker and very successful in his field at a very young age. But the 24-year-old welterweight also comes across as cold, stiff and overprogrammed.
The phenom has had his stumbles lately, taking a plodding decision over Jake Ellenberger and then absorbing his second UFC defeat in November at the hands of Robbie Lawler.
But MacDonald came off the mat at UFC 170, figuratively and literally. Early on, jiu-jitsu nonpareil Demian Maia had Rory MacDonald down and mounted. The first round probably went to Maia.
But MacDonald stayed calm, gathered himself and came back, landing heavy combinations and stuffing Maia's takedowns to outlast Maia and pull away from him in the end to get back on the good foot with a unanimous decision win. He also deflected claims that he has become too boring or cautious by fighting aggressively throughout.
Tip your hat to Rory MacDonald. "The Canadian Psycho" may be eccentric, but he proved on Saturday he's still a threat in the UFC welterweight division.
As the final round of their welterweight battle entered the home stretch, Mike Pyle wrapped a guillotine choke on T.J. Waldburger during a ground exchange. Pyle eventually released the hold, but Waldburger was limp and appeared, at best, semiconscious.
Pyle, being a fighter and all, mounted Waldburger and proceeded to rain heavy short elbows on Waldburger's head. No response or defense from Waldburger. Still, referee Herb Dean took no action to stop the fight. Pyle continued, though with decreasing steam, to pummel Waldburger. Eventually, Dean waved off the action, and Pyle took the TKO.
Unfortunately, Waldburger absorbed quite a bit of damage in the process, some of it seemingly unnecessary. That was Waldburger's seventh career knockout loss, and second in a row. You have to wonder about his fighting future in light of that.
Meanwhile, the normally reliable Dean was uncharacteristically tardy in his stoppage. Maybe Dean's hand was stayed by visions of his stoppage in the main event of UFC 169, when he took heat for pulling Renan Barao off of Urijah Faber too early.
It's not an easy job. But better too early than too late, is what I say. And at UFC 170, Dean didn't effectively protect a vulnerable fighter in Waldburger.
Zach Makovsky (right) won a decision at UFC 170.
February has literally been a historic month for the UFC decision.
On Feb. 1, UFC 169 set a company record for decisions in a single event, when 10 fights went the distance. Two weeks later on Feb. 15, UFC Fight Night 36 equaled the mark.
Not to be outdone, UFC 170 saw six fights go to the judges, including all but one of the event's six undercard bouts.
Is it a sign of a more conservative fighting culture? A dilution of talent resulting in fewer finishes? Meh, probably not. Probably just one of those things. But an interesting month nonetheless, and one that was punctuated Saturday night in Las Vegas.
The grumblers ratcheted their grumbling up to a dull roar when Stephen "Wonderboy" Thompson took a plumb spot on the pay-per-view card, over longer-tenured MMAers like Erik Koch and Raphael Assuncao. The camera-ready, Bible-quoting, flashy-striking Thompson had a championship career in kickboxing, but despite an 8-1 pro MMA record had not received a major test in the cage.
His UFC 170 opponent, Robert Whittaker, was supposed to change that. But "Wonderboy" cleared the hurdle and silenced doubters with style and aplomb, landing a hard right hand at the end of a sweet combination to floor Whittaker, then swarming to make sure he stayed floored.
The 31-year-old welterweight is now 4-1 in the UFC. He's exciting, he's likable, he's a budding star in the UFC welterweight division and it's useless to deny that. I won't fight this feeling anymore, Wonderboy. You're the man.
Jessica Eye and Alexis Davis engaged in a back-and-forth fight to close the evening's undercard. When the judges returned a split decision win for Davis, there was enough room for doubt that fans booed the verdict during Davis' post-fight comments in the cage.
But others couldn't help but wonder whether Dame Karma played a little role in the outcome. Eye caused a rift with fans and media members in the weeks leading up to her fight after she lied about testing positive for marijuana in October and then mocked reporters who uncovered the truth.
And if that wasn't enough, Eye had taken a controversial split decision win of her own in her last contest (though that was later changed to a no decision following the failed test).
Before that backdrop, it was easy to imagine Saturday's decision as a measure of revenge for Eye's recent malfeasance.
Ronda Rousey def. Sara McMann by TKO, 1:06, Rd. 1
Daniel Cormier def. Patrick Cummins by TKO, 1:19, Rd. 1
Rory MacDonald def. Demian Maia by unanimous decision
Mike Pyle def. T.J. Waldburger by TKO, 4:03, Rd. 3
Stephen Thompson def. Robert Whittaker by TKO, 3:43, Rd. 1
Alexis Davis def. Jessica Eye by split decision
Raphael Assuncao def. Pedro Munhoz by unanimous decision
Aljamain Sterling def. Cody Gibson by unanimous decision
Zach Makovsky def. Josh Sampo by unanimous decision
Erik Koch def. Rafaello Oliveira by TKO, 1:24, Rd. 1
Ernest Chavez def. Yosdenis Cedeno by split decision
Scott Harris writes about MMA for Bleacher Report. For more MMA and yelling at the TV and wild speculation and stuff, follow Scott on Twitter.