A lot of things could've been better about UFC 190.
Ronda Rousey's performance was not one of them.
Rousey did almost exactly what she had promised to do on Saturday, steamrolling overmatched challenger Bethe Correia with a wild flurry of punches before knocking her flat just 34 seconds into the first round.
It was the sixth straight defense of Rousey's UFC women's bantamweight title, boosted her undefeated record to 12-0 and stood as an emphatic statement that the rest of her competition—already so far behind—is just never going to catch her.
Rousey's last three appearances in the Octagon have now each ended in less than a minute—in 16, 14 and 34 seconds, respectively.
Immediately afterward, she said everything had gone according to plan. As if we needed that confirmation.
"It kind of went how I expected," she told UFC color commentator Joe Rogan inside the cage. "I planned to instead of trying to force a clinch, overwhelm her [with] striking first so that she would want to clinch first, and that's exactly what happened."
The outcome was far from a surprise, but the method was startling.
According to Fightnomics author Reed Kuhn, Rousey came into the fight as a favorite of historic proportions. She was expected to defeat Correia with ease and did. She vowed to make it a painful experience for the Brazilian challenger, who had gotten under her skin with trash talk, and she did that, too.
Few people, however, expected Rousey to overwhelm Correia in a pure striking match. The champion's Olympic-level judo skills constitute such a powerful and unique tool in her shallow weight class that it often seems like she can end a fight at will.
If this bout were going to finish in under a minute, most anticipated a quick Rousey takedown, a scramble and yet another of her signature armbar submissions.
But after Correia evaded a pair of early takedown attempts, Rousey merely blitzed her with punches.
With just 22 seconds gone, the diminutive challenger lost her footing and tumbled backward against the chain link. As she regained her feet, Rousey tagged her with a series of strikes, including the winging overhand right to the temple that put Correia down on her face and prompted referee John McCarthy to stop the fight.
The immediate reaction was astonishment. We're used to seeing Rousey do great things, but this was really something special. If the preternatural grappler is suddenly going to start knocking people out on their feet, that's very bad news for women's 135-pound fighters everywhere.
Not that news could get much worse for them.
The only place Rousey fell short in this bout was in her strange pre-fight prediction that she would take her time making Correia pay for her trash talk.
In May, Correia caused a brief stir by telling Portuguese-language website Combate (h/t MMA Fighting) she hoped Rousey didn't "commit suicide" after losing to her. Media called it out of bounds because Rousey's father took his own life when she was a child.
Correia later apologized, but Rousey is not one to forgive or forget. She said she was going to pay the fiery underdog back with a slow, painful demise. In the end, though, she couldn't seal the deal on that particular guarantee. She was just too good to stretch this out.
"I hope that nobody really brings up my family anymore when it comes to fights," she told Rogan. "I hope this is the last time."
Perhaps Rousey also instinctively knew this night did not need another long, drawn-out affair.
The UFC 190 pay-per-view card boasted seven fights and a four-hour time slot. Visa issues knocked a pair of finale fights from the company's Ultimate Fighter: Brazil reality show off an event in Florida last month and forced them to be shuffled onto this PPV.
By the time Rousey and Correia took the cage, it was creeping up on 2 a.m. ET.
The UFC often comes under fire for the slow pacing of its live events. On this night, it was especially bad. Viewers had already suffered through a pair of middling heavyweight bouts, introductory video packages for each TUF: Brazil contestant and a special message from rapper Ice Cube about how everyone ought to go see the new NWA biopic.
The supersized nature of the event seemed particularly weird, considering it was sold almost exclusively as The Ronda Rousey Show.
Despite the fact that this shaped up as the least competitive fight of her career, she netted mainstream coverage from outlets like the New York Times, Cosmopolitan, Rolling Stone, Esquire and Time, among others.
Just before the event began, UFC President Dana White and Rogan engaged in a long televised sales pitch about Rousey's importance, dominance and status as a role model to "little girls" everywhere. Then the fight company put on an excruciating event that stretched into the wee hours, surely long after those little girls had to be in bed.
Not even a fairly entertaining scrap between Antonio Rogerio Nogueira and Mauricio "Shogun" Rua in the co-main event could drag spectators out of the doldrums.
Reviews were starting to pour in, and many were negative:
Yet when Rousey's traditional Joan Jett walkout music hit, when we saw her terrifying pre-fight game face and watched her stalk through the wild Brazilian crowd to the cage, the funk of the previous few hours lifted.
It was time to watch Rousey do her thing.
Then she did it, and it was glorious.
As the Washington Post's Cindy Boren wrote the morning after, Rousey's exploits are placing her in rarefied, mainstream company:
No matter the next opponent and outcome, beating up "the next chick" has put Rousey, like Serena Williams in tennis, in a category all by herself. ... The two are doing extraordinary things, things that put them at the heart of the conversation whenever "greatest of all time" comes up.
Indeed, Rousey's performance here was better than we could have hoped for, considering the lopsided pre-fight odds. It was also exactly the sort of performance needed to resurrect a PPV event that otherwise had been fairly insufferable.
There are still many valid questions to sort out about Rousey and her place in the history of the sport. There is her relative lack of competition to consider and her unwillingness (thus far) to fight the one woman in the world who might actually give her a run for her money—Invicta FC featherweight titleholder Cris "Cyborg" Justino.
There is also the UFC champ's lack of striking defense, which was on display even in this short and sweet victory.
As it does with nearly everything, the UFC often goes overboard trying to sell Rousey to the public. This fight against Correia wasn't, as Rogan suggested multiple times, "a historical event." It was a mismatch, plain and simple. It was matchmakers scraping the bottom of the barrel to find Rousey an opponent she hadn't already blown past.
Her next fight, on the books before this fight even happened, will be more of the same. Rousey is scheduled for a third meeting with archnemesis Miesha Tate, a scrappy but overmatched contender she's already defeated twice.
We will watch that as we wait to see if a fight against Justino ever comes together, or if a contender like Holly Holm might build herself into a challenger who can fare better than Correia.
The problem moving forward for the UFC, as it has been for some time, is how to continue to entice consumers into dropping $60 on Rousey's particular brand of drubbings. That task becomes even more difficult when you lead into her live appearances with three-and-a-half hours of fluff.
Yet Rousey somehow made this event and matchup seem worthwhile. Not every UFC champion could've done that.
Perhaps the greatest example of her unique star power wasn't that she trounced Correia in unexpected style, but that she elevated an entire lackluster night with just 34 seconds of work.