UFC

The Lens: Ronda Rousey's Stardom, Josh Koscheck's Fall and Matt Grice's Future

Feb 23, 2013; Anaheim, CA, USA;    Ronda Rousey (black shorts) and Liz Carmouche (white shorts) fight during their UFC women's world bantamweight championship bout at the Honda Center. Mandatory Credit: Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports
Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports
Jeremy BotterMMA Senior WriterFebruary 25, 2013

On Sunday morning, as I cruised down to the always-busy Starbucks located in the Hyatt Regency Orange County just outside of Anaheim, Calif., I ran into an older couple in the elevator. They were in their mid-50s, by my estimation. 

As we rode down to the hotel lobby, I overheard the man ask his wife if Ronda Rousey won on Saturday. It was less of a question and more the man simply wondering what happened, so I piped up and told them that Rousey did indeed win at the Honda Center.

The man then asked me if she had won by armbar in the first round, and I told him that she had. He smiled and shook his head.

"Of course she did," he said. 

I nodded and asked him how many UFC fights they had seen over the years.

"None," he said. "Not one."

The man and his wife had never seen a single UFC fight, but they had seen Rousey's story played out across all forms of news media over the past four days. In local newspapers, on the local news, ESPN, Fox, CNN and every other news property, Rousey was the top story this week.

She was the most searched-for term on Google on Saturday, and it wasn't even close. Not even the various Oscar contenders compared to "Rowdy" on fight night.

It was media exposure on an unprecedented level for the Ultimate Fighting Championship, and it was all thanks to Rousey, who has become the company's biggest mainstream star after just one fight for the promotion.

It was one heck of a night for women's mixed martial arts, the UFC and Rousey. Here, in my latest post-event feature, I'm going to take a deeper look at some of the things I saw while in Anaheim covering UFC 157.

 

Grice uninjured, but at what cost? 

While I waited for the shuttle to the airport on Sunday morning, I spoke with Matt Grice, who had come out on the wrong end of a fight of the night with a bad limp, a loss and $50,000 in extra cash to take back to his home in Oklahoma.

I assumed that he would also be suffering from a headache after Dennis Bermudez used his head as a speedbag in the third round of their thrilling fight. Fortunately, only his leg hurt.

The featherweight had received plenty of praise for the fight, and UFC matchmaker Sean Shelby told him after the bout that there was zero chance of him getting cut. That made Grice happy, of course, but he said he would still trade all of that for a win. 

As Grice hobbled away from our conversation, I couldn't help but wonder: What was the price that he paid for pleasing the fans and making his bosses happy by surviving the firing squad, even in the midst of massive cuts and bloodletting in the UFC roster?

He said it was only his leg that hurt, and I believed him, but what about the damage we can't see? What about all of those football stars and professional wrestlers who never realize they are broken until it's too late?

I can't sit here and tell you that Grice vs. Bermudez wasn't a thrilling fight, because it was. But I also can't tell you that I felt very good about the long-term consequences of the bout—the idea that going into the cage and getting your head bashed in is a surefire way to save your job, win or lose.

 

Koscheck on the chopping block? 

I was stunned to hear that media colleagues thought Josh Koscheck hadn't been afforded an opportunity to fight back against Robbie Lawler—that the fight stoppage had been premature.

Are you kidding me?

The stoppage was perfect. Koscheck was out. He was still out of it, in fact, when I saw him five minutes later in the backstage area. He still had the glassy eyes and thousand-yard stare that go hand in hand with being knocked out.

The question now becomes: Will Koscheck be cut after his second consecutive loss? Or more specifically: If I were in Joe Silva's shoes, would I cut Koscheck?

Dana White's justification for cutting Jon Fitch was that he was "too expensive." If that's the case, then Koscheck must be feeling a twinge of fear, because his contract is far more lucrative than Fitch's.

There's also the fact that Koscheck's only good win since December 2010 was over Matt Hughes.

Just like Fitch, Koscheck is on the downside of his career and costs far too much to be placed on the preliminary card. But unlike Fitch, Koscheck is still a marketable star—at least for now.

So while I believe that Koscheck should be cut under the precedent set for Fitch, he should get at least one more shot. Fans may not enjoy watching him fight, but they sure do enjoy watching him get beat up. That counts for something. 

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