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What Ronda Rousey’s ESPY win means for MMA

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The ESPY awards are always full of fun, excitement and emotion.

This year’s ceremony is going to be comprised of heart-touching speeches – it’s been seven months since Stuart Scott’s death and I’m getting emotional thinking about his 2014 speech – and honors will be bestowed upon numerous athletes, including the deceased Lauren Hill.

But MMA fans can also enjoy the event, especially since one of the sports biggest starts came away with a great honor.

UFC women’s champion “Rowdy” Ronda Rousey received the “Best Fighter” ESPY for 2015, becoming the first MMA competitor to do so. She beat out fellow mixed martial artist Donald Cerrone, as well as boxers Terrance Crawford, Gennady Govolkin and Floyd Mayweather Jr. She also won her second “Female Athlete of the Year Award.”

After she accepted the award, Rousey took a verbal jab at Mayweather, asking him “how it felt to be beaten by a woman for once?” – a reference to Mayweather’s connection to domestic violence.

But what does Rousey’s ESPY win mean for mixed martial arts? This isn’t her first time being up for the award – she was nominated in 2014 – nor is she the first MMA competitor in this category. Since its inception in 2007, MMA legends such as Quinton “Rampage” Jackson, Randy Couture, Anderson Silva, Lyoto Machida, Georges St-Pierre and Jon Jones were past nominees. UFC fighter Holly Holm was nominated for the award at the peak of her boxing run. However only two athletes have won the award – Mayweather and Manny Pacqiuao.

Some MMA fans may hate the idea of Mayweather and Pac-Man being the only two fighters to win the award – especially after their lackluster fight in May – but these are two athletes that have transcended their sport, much like Rousey has done in the last couple of years.

Critics complain that Rousey doesn’t do enough for MMA, particularity women’s mixed martial arts. One blogger noted her lack of appearances at Invicta Fighting Championships events. Maybe they have a point. After all, what has Rousey has done for the women’s division – besides being the person who paved the way for women to fight in the UFC.

Snarky comment aside, Rousey has a schedule unlike any other fighter. Training, movies, commercials, press events, interviews, game testing for her mother’s company and helping teach an after-school judo program. It’s a hefty schedule and she hustles through it. She’s also put the time and dedication in building her own brand.

And fans aren’t the only ones who notice. ESPN noticed and nominated her for award. Critics can’t get too angry at ESPN because it was the fans who voted for her to win.

Rousey winning the award shows what MMA fighters can achieve if they put that extra effort into getting out names out there and building themselves as a brand. Many fighters like to sick to just being athletes without going that extra mile for publicity but – and I’ve said this before – competitors who complain about not getting exposure and blaming the promotion for its lack of effort on their part. Sure much of their time goes into training but you can accomplish a lot outside of the gym and do more promotion besides engaging in Twitter fights with rivals and fans.

It also shows how far MMA has come in the last few years. Mixed martial arts has been around for over 20 years but compared to other sports, it’s still in its infancy. It’s fighters like Rousey who catch the eyes and imagination of casual fans.

We’re in 2015 and Rousey was named Best Fighter. Next year it could be Conor McGregor, if the new interim featherweight champion continues on this incredible roll he’s been on lately.

Rousey winning her ESPYs does more than just add a couple of awards to her trophy case and accolades to her list of accomplishments. It’s another sign of a bright future ahead for mixed martial arts.

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Interviews

Exclusive: Derek Brunson: “Anderson was definitely a little lubed up”

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Derek Brunson fought Anderson Silva back in February of this year, at UFC 208. Brunson would go on to lose the fight by controversial unanimous decision. However, the controversies didn’t stop at the questionable decision, Brunson also claims Silva was greasing during the fight. The Wilmington, North Carolina native, posted about it on Twitter a few days ago:

Speaking with MMA Latest, Brunson explained why he believes Silva was greasing during the fight. “Anderson was definitely a little lubed up. Every time I grabbed him he was just slipping out of everything, and his takedown defense was really good that night. I was definitely curious to know why he was very slippery, which I definitely think he had some kind of substance on his body. He knows I’m a wrestler obviously, he’s an old, savvy veteran, so he was definitely trying to play all the rules and be very strategic, and make it harder for a wrestler to grab him.”

Brunson is set to face Lyoto Machida come October 28, when asked about whether he was worried about Machida greasing, considering Gegard Mousasi accused him of doing so in their fight, Brunson admitted he wasn’t too worried.

Well I’m not too worried, but like I said, I put it out there because I know they’re friends and I know, obviously, that’s kind of what the guys do when they know they’re fighting a wrestler. They want to lube their body up really good to make it hard to grab hold, Anderson did a great job defending my takedowns. It’s because he was all greased up so he was able to stop a lot of them. When I grab guys in the clinch, it’s very tough for them to get away and I’m pretty good with my Greco takedown. He was pretty much pulling through my clinch when I had a tight grip on him and if you have some kind of substance on your body it’s easy to pull them.”

Neither Silva nor his management have commented on the greasing allegations. Anderson Silva makes his return against Kelvin Gastelum later this year, in China. While Brunson makes his return to the Octagon on October 28th, in Brazil, where he looks to add Lyoto Machida’s name to his impressive list of victories.

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Announcement

Ovince Saint Preux Steps in to Face Corey Anderson at UFC 217

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UFC 217 just got even more interesting. Earlier this week, Patrick Cummins pulled out of his light heavyweight matchup with Corey Anderson due to a Staph infection. Corey “Overtime” Anderson was not happy with his opponents decision, even calling out his opponent on Instagram asking how Cummins could, “call it quits so far from fight night”.

The UFC left Anderson on the card, and he found an opponent through the magic of Twitter. Ovince Saint Preux tweeted out directly to Anderson stating:

It didn’t take long for Anderson to respond agreeing to the fight, tagging Mick Maynard and Dana White in his response.

Only a few short hours later, the fight announcement came from the official UFC twitter account.

 

This top 10 Light Heavyweight matchup should add to an already amazing card coming in November at Madison Square Garden. Saint Preux is coming off of back to back wins both due to the very rare von flue choke, he finds himself ranked #7th in the latest edition of the 205-pound rankings. Corey “Overtime” Anderson is 4-2 in his last 6 fights, but is coming off a brutal first round knockout loss to Jimi Manuwa in March.

With such a exciting fight added to this card, what do you see happening November 4th?  Will Corey Anderson bounce back and look to jump into the top 5 of the rankings, or will Ovince Saint Preux go for a third straight von flue choke? Let us know.

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Announcement

*Watch* Bellator 185 Weigh in: Live Stream, Results

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Watch the live weigh-ins for Bellator 185 here.

Gegard Mousasi takes on Alexander Slemenko live this Friday night October 20th at the Mohegan Sun Arena in Uncasville CT. This is the first appearance for Mousasi in the Bellator cage as he looks to secure a title shot with a win over the very tough former Bellator champion Slemenko. Joining these men of the main card will be a pair of welterweights as Neiman Gracie from the famous Gracie BJJ family takes on Zak Bucia in the co-main event.

Full Weigh-in Results: (Updated in real time)

Main Card:

Gegard Mousasi (185) vs. Alexander Shlemenko (186)
Neiman Gracie (170.5) vs. Zak Bucia (170)
Heather Hardy (126) vs. Kristina Williams (126)
Ryan Quinn (155.5) vs. Marcus Surin (155)
Ana Julaton (125.5) vs. Lisa Blaine (122)

Preliminary Card:

Jordan Young (200) vs. Alec Hooben (194)
Costello van Steenis (185) vs. Steve Skrzat (186)
Vinicius de Jesus (170) vs. Joaquin Buckley (171)
John Beneduce (154.5) vs. Dean Hancock (155)
Timothy Wheeler (144) vs. Pete Rogers (144)
Don Shainis (150) vs. Matthew Denning (149)
Frank Sforza (149) vs. Vovka Clay (150)
Kevin Carrier (156) vs. Jose Antonio Perez (153)
John Lopez (126) vs. Billy Giovanella (125)

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