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Female UFC Champion Ronda Rousey, Revved and Ready

David A. Avila

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Going into a lunch meeting with no preconceptions about mixed martial arts fighter Ronda Rousey proved to be a good idea.

Assisting Rousey, the first female prizefighter for Ultimate Fighter Championship, was the president Dana White at Morton’s Steakhouse in Burbank, Calif. It was an introduction to his newest star.

Rousey (6-0) becomes the first female prizefighter to headline the UFC 157 fight card when she fights Liz Carmouche (6-2) for the UFC bantamweight championship on Feb. 23, 2013. The MMA fight card that also features Dan Henderson takes place at the Honda Center in Anaheim. It will also be televised on pay-per-view.

Like a revved turbine race engine Rousey fires words out in piston-like fashion allowing little time to gauge why and where the thought process begins and ends. Her engine is cranked and ready to engage at a moment’s notice. It’s difficult to imagine she once had a speech problem especially when talking about potential opponents.

“They really don’t like me at all,” says Rousey about her growing group of antagonists. “But I’m not here to make friends.”

And boy, does she know it.

Before press conferences Rousey digs up intelligence information on her opponents like a C.I.A. operative ready to battle wits with counterparts during the Cold War. War of words, war of wills or war in the Octagon, the former U.S. Olympic medalist is ready.

During the press conferences with Miesha Tate the propaganda war was one-sided.

“With Miesha she hated doing press with me,” said Rousey of press conference battles with Tate. “She kind of got used to me schooling her.”

From her first years in Riverside to her years in South Dakota then back to Southern California, Rousey has walked the road of the dedicated Olympic athlete and looks back on it with fresh eyes. Winning an Olympic bronze medal in the 2008 Olympics was a fond memory but her experiences after that moment have changed her viewpoint on that world.

It’s not a pretty picture.

After the Olympics the 25-year-old Rousey traveled to Japan to enhance her judo skills but the experience left her feeling miserable and she departed. It was a break up that left a wide chasm between her former world of judo and her new world in MMA.

“He basically told me to screw myself,” Rousey says of her former Judo mentor. “I lost a lot of friends. It was hurtful.”

Once Rousey entered the world of MMA, it’s been her opponents receiving the hurt. None of her six opponents have survived a round. All have submitted willfully or otherwise via the arm bar. It’s a trademark that she developed as a child and remains her weapon of choice.

UFC’s White is amazed at Rousey’s dominance.

“Everybody knows what she’s going to do and they can’t stop her,” said White. “She’s definitely a finisher.”

Finding female fighters that can offer more than 1-minute resistance is the trick that UFC’s White has to circumvent. But one thing is certain, Rousey is a real fighter.

“When she goes out and fights, she’s mean,” White says. “And that’s what I like to see in any fighter.”

And if you doubt her because she’s a woman, then you have two people ready to prove you wrong.

“So many people frown on women fighting,” said White. “It’s ridiculous.”

It doesn’t bother Rousey.

“I love proving people wrong,” she says.

You knew that statement was on her mind from the start. She’s always revved.

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2015 Fight of the Year – Francisco Vargas vs Takashi Miura

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The WBC World Super Featherweight title bout between Francisco Vargas and Takashi Miura came on one of the biggest boxing stages of 2015, as the bout served as the HBO pay-per-view’s co-main event on November 21st, in support of Miguel Cotto vs Saul Alvarez.

Miura entered the fight with a (29-2-2) record and he was making the fifth defense of his world title, while Vargas entered the fight with an undefeated mark of (22-0-1) in what was his first world title fight. Both men had a reputation for all-out fighting, with Miura especially earning high praise for his title defense in Mexico where he defeated Sergio Thompson in a fiercely contested battle.

The fight started out hotly contested, and the intensity never let up. Vargas seemed to win the first two rounds, but by the fourth round, Miura seemed to pull ahead, scoring a knock-down and fighting with a lot of confidence. After brawling the first four rounds, Miura appeared to settle into a more technical approach. Rounds 5 and 6 saw the pendulum swing back towards Vargas, as he withstood Miura’s rush to open the fifth round and the sixth round saw both men exchanging hard punches.

The big swinging continued, and though Vargas likely edged Miura in rounds 5 and 6, Vargas’ face was cut in at least two spots and Miura started to assert himself again in rounds 7 and 8. Miura was beginning to grow in confidence while it appeared that Vargas was beginning to slow down, and Miura appeared to hurt Vargas at the end of the 8th round.

Vargas turned the tide again at the start of the ninth round, scoring a knock down with an uppercut and a straight right hand that took Miura’s legs and sent him to the canvas. Purely on instinct, Miura got back up and continued to fight, but Vargas was landing frequently and with force. Referee Tony Weeks stepped in to stop the fight at the halfway point of round 9 as Miura was sustaining a barrage of punches.

Miura still had a minute and a half to survive if he was going to get out of the round, and it was clear that he was not going to stop fighting.

A back and forth battle of wills between two world championship level fighters, Takashi Miura versus “El Bandido” Vargas wins the 2015 Fight of the Year.

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Jan 9 in Germany – Feigenbutz and De Carolis To Settle Score

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This coming Saturday, January 9th, the stage is set at the Baden Arena in Offenburg, Germany for a re-match between Vincent Feigenbutz and Giovanni De Carolis. The highly anticipated re-match is set to air on SAT.1 in Germany, and Feigenbutz will once again be defending his GBU and interim WBA World titles at Super Middleweight.

The first meeting between the two was less than three months ago, on October 17th and that meeting saw Feigenbutz controversially edge De Carolis on the judge’s cards by scores of (115-113, 114-113 and 115-113). De Carolis scored a flash knock down in the opening round, and he appeared to outbox Feigenbutz in the early going, but the 20 year old German champion came on in the later rounds.

The first bout is described as one of the most crowd-pleasing bouts of the year in Germany, and De Carolis and many observers felt that the Italian had done enough to win.

De Carolis told German language website RAN.DE that he was more prepared for the re-match, and that due to the arrogance Feigenbutz displayed in the aftermath of the first fight, he was confident that he had won over some of the audience. Though De Carolis fell short of predicting victory, he promised a re-vamped strategy tailored to what he has learned about Feigenbutz, whom he termed immature and inexperienced.

The stage is set for Feigenbutz vs De Carolis 2, this Saturday January 9th in Offenburg, Germany. If you can get to the live event do it, if not you have SAT.1 in Germany airing the fights, and The Boxing Channel right back here for full results.

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2015 Knock Out of the Year – Saul Alvarez KO’s James Kirkland

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On May 9th of 2015, Saul “Canelo” Alvarez delivered a resonant knock-out of James Kirkland on HBO that wins the 2015 KO of the Year.

The knock-out itself came in the third round, after slightly more than two minutes of action. The end came when Alvarez delivered a single, big right hand that caught Kirkland on the jaw and left him flat on his back after spinning to the canvas.Alvarez was clearly the big star heading into the fight. The fight was telecast by HBO for free just one week after the controversial and disappointing Floyd Mayweather Jr. and Manny Pacquiao fight, and Alvarez was under pressure to deliver the type of finish that people were going to talk about. Kirkland was happy to oblige Alvarez, taking it right to Alvarez from the start. Kirkland’s aggression saw him appear to land blows that troubled the young Mexican in the early going. Alvarez played good defense, and he floored Kirkland in the first round, displaying his power and his technique in knocking down an aggressive opponent.

However, Kirkland kept coming at Alvarez and the fight entered the third round with both men working hard and the feeling that the fight would not go the distance. Kirkland continued to move forward, keeping “Canelo” against the ropes and scoring points with a barrage of punches while looking for an opening.

At around the two minute mark, Alvarez landed an uppercut that sent Kirkland to the canvas again. Kirkland got up, but it was clear that he did not have his legs under him. Kirkland was going to try to survive the round, but Alvarez had an opportunity to close out the fight. The question was would he take it?

Alvarez closed in on Kirkland, putting his opponent’s back to the ropes. Kirkland was hurt, but he was still dangerous, pawing with punches and loading up for one big shot.

But it was the big shot “Canelo” threw that ended the night. Kirkland never saw it coming, as he was loading up with a huge right hand of his own. The right Alvarez threw cracked Kirkland in the jaw, and his eyes went blank. His big right hand whizzed harmlessly over the head of a ducking Alvarez, providing the momentum for the spin that left Kirkland prone on the canvas.

Saul “Canelo” Alvarez went on to defeat Miguel Cotto in his second fight of 2015 and he is clearly one of boxing’s biggest stars heading into 2016. On May 9th Alvarez added another reel to his highlight film when he knocked out James Kirkland with the 2015 “Knock Out of the Year”.

Photo by naoki fukuda

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