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Ronda Rousey hits Liz Carmouche during their historic UFC Bantamweight Title fight at Honda Center in Anaheim, California last weekend. Photograph: Jeff Gross/Getty Images

Ronda Rousey hits Liz Carmouche during their historic UFC Bantamweight Title fight at Honda Center in Anaheim, California last weekend. Photograph: Jeff Gross/Getty Images



Women grapple with the ultimate issue

It was back in 2000 that Anita DeFrantz, the first female vice-president of the International Olympic Committee, visited Dublin for a conference on women in sport, and on being asked if she approved of women’s boxing, those being the days before it had been included in the Olympics, she replied: “If women want to box then no one should stop them . . . I just thought they had more sense.”

Quite what she’d make of Ronda “Rowdy” Rousey and Liz “Girl-Rilla” Carmouche, then, heaven knows, the pair making “history” last weekend when they became the first women to take part in an Ultimate Fighting Championship bout.

(It took a while to cop on to Girl-Rilla, until reading Carmouche say she fights like, well, “a mini gorilla”).

A lively affair in their Californian cage it was too, in front of a crowd of 15,000, judging by AP’s account of the contest (this might be where DeFrantz pours herself a stiff gin): “Carmouche had Rousey in trouble early, nearly landing a rear naked choke while clinging to Rousey’s back . . . Rousey barely escaped the chokehold by getting her chin and mouth underneath Carmouche’s arm . . . She gradually imposed her will on the former Marine after that, rolling her across the canvas and finally getting side control on Carmouche before patiently separating her arms to land an armbar.”

Bronze in Beijing

Rousey, apparently, is no stranger to armbars, perfecting the skill in her judo days – she won bronze in Beijing – dislocating two opponents’ elbows along the way. (As armbar experts and Wikipedia-readers know, “by holding the opponent’s wrist to the attacker’s chest with the pinky finger on the sternum and the thumb facing up, the practitioner can easily extend the opponent’s arm and hyperextend the opponent’s elbow”).

Rousey triumphed, then, with 11 seconds left in the first round, although she conceded after that Carmouche had given her quite a scare.

“That was pretty tight, that neck crank. She had the choke across my mouth and her forearm was pushing against my teeth. That can’t have been any more fun for her than it was for me. Crazy sport we’re in, huh?”

Crazy, perhaps, but profitable too. Rousey collected $90,000 for her troubles, still less than four of the male fighters on the card, but that figure could rise once pay-per-view sales are taken in account – and they, reported the Los Angeles Times, “were assessed as 40 per cent better than the UFC’s Super Bowl weekend card”.

Including replays, sales could reach 500,000 – at $44.99 per-view.

(Note: Carmouche picked up $12,000, which mightn’t sound bad for less than one round’s work, but a pittance considering the arm-barring).

In the build-up to the big occasion Rousey revealed that she was so broke she hardly had any furniture in her home, prompting UFC president Dana White to declare: “She’s going to have a kitchen table and a couch and whatever else the f*** she wants.”

He’s confident, it would appear, that he has a star on his hands. “This is the most media attention we’ve ever had before a fight,” he purred.

(Two years ago? “When will we see women in the UFC?” “Never – NEVER,” he replied, fairly emphatically. Now? “I love Ronda Rousey, man. She’s as tough and as nasty as it comes.”)

Conspiracy video

Rousey had already attracted some media attention having promoted on Twitter a conspiracy video that claims the shooting of 20 children and six staff members at Sandy Hook Elementary School in December was a hoax, a government conspiracy designed to take away Americans’ guns. When criticised for her actions, she insisted she was being “patriotic”, rather than “blindly accepting what you’re told”.

She’s the stuff of UFC dreams, this woman. She’ll go far.

Back at that conference in 2000, DeFrantz had a chuckle about Pierre De Coubertin, the founding father of the modern Olympic Movement and the IOC, and not the biggest of fans of women in sport.

“But even in his time,” she said, “he realised the world was passing him by when he conceded there was no point trying to stop women competing in the pentathlon. “Why not,” he said. “They’re doing everything else I object to”.”

What would the poor man have made of women in Ultimate Fighting, rear naked chokes, armbars and the like?

Who knows, but you half suspect if he was around last weekend, he might have paid out that $44.99 to view it all.

Just saying.

Not too impressed with Rock 'n' Roll champ

LaTonya Norton, anchor with New Orleans television station WDSU, was, quite evidently, hugely impressed when she spoke with the winner of the city’s Rock ‘n’ Roll half-marathon, not least because he’d broken the course record.

“Haven’t you run before,” she asked.

A brief silence.

“Sorry,” he asked.

“Haven’t you run before? This isn’t your first time?” “No, it’s not my first time,” he smiled.

He’s a polite man, is double Olympic gold medallist Mo Farah.

After the video of the unfortunate exchange was viewed, oh, a 100,000 times or more, WSDU issued an apology: “We regret our unfortunate phrasing of questions posed to Mr Mo Farah . . . and for not acknowledging his status as an Olympic champion. We express our sincere apology to Mr Farah and his many fans who may have been offended by our error. We hope that Mr Farah will have occasion to visit New Orleans again and that we may have the opportunity to apologise in person.”

Yep, they now know, he’s run before.

A shrill blast from the referee and off you go

The New York Times had a story this week about a study carried out by a former basketball referee Nathan Williams and a Professor Gregory Flamme, with a less than catchy title: “Sports Officials’ Hearing Status: Whistle Use as a Factor Contributing to Hearing Trouble”.

Suspecting that whistling was damaging his hearing, Williams brought a dosimeter to a high school basketball tournament to measure his “noise exposure”, and observed that it “maxed out the device”.

He then teamed up with Flamme to study the problem and they found that sports officiating could not be ruled out as a “promoter of early hearing impairment”.

This brought to mind the case of a non-league footballer in England in 2000. Referee Peter Kearle gave a shrill blast of his whistle to start a game. A startled Lee Todd declared: “**** me, that was loud!” And what happened? The referee only sent him off for “foul and abusive language”. After two seconds.

Mr versatility Lawrenson all the rage in London

Cultured folk who find themselves in London in June might like to know that Opera Holland Park will be staging Rugerro Leoncavallo’s Pagliacci, which, as you know, features music of “great variety, from Canio’s tortured aria “Vesti la giubba” to Nedda’s languid ballatella and a neo-classical pastiche before the final bloody mayhem”. According to their website, any way.

Who’s the star of the show?

Well, judging by the promotional poster, which startled more than a few people around London of late, it would appear to be: Mark Lawrenson.

Well, that’s one of the reasons Jack Charlton always liked him: versatility.

O'Sullivan teams up with old pal for a bit of promotion

One of the week’s happier stories was the announcement by Ronnie O’Sullivan he is returning to snooker and will defend his title in next month’s World Championships, four months after taking a break from the game with personal problems.

He broke the news at a press conference in London where he was joined by his old pal Jimmy White, the pair having a whole heap in common through the years, including natural snookering brilliance and, sadly enough, alcohol problems.

They appeared together to promote Rocket Fuel, a new vodka brand by “consumer products creator, incubator and development company” ROK Stars. White was appointed Global Brand Ambassador and now O’Sullivan’s on board. “I’m very pleased to be involved with ROK Stars,” he said, “they’ve got some great products – particularly OVAL Vodka.”


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