You may not know this, but March 3rd is a storied day in MMA history. You may have thought that February 28th was when Ronda Rousey cemented her place in MMA lore. After all, her 14-second win over Cat Zingano at UFC 184 was pretty spectacular. But no, dear reader. Long, long ago (2012), in a land far, far away (Columbus, Ohio to be exact), March 3rd is when Rousey truly stepped into the MMA limelight. And it's probably not the most nostalgic day of the year for one Miesha Tate.
Let's go further back though. Back through time. March 3rd has played host to no less than five major MMA events, and the first one was in 2007. Coincidentally, that took place in Columbus too!
Okay, let's get this out of the way now - there was nothing coincidental about it. The Arnold Classic takes place on the first March weekend in Columbus every year, and MMA has always tried to take advantage of the world's biggest conglomeration of meatheads by running face-punching events in the vicinity. Fight promoting 101. I think the WWE is even taking NXT there. Go Finn Balor.
Tangent over. So in 2007, it was the UFC that came to town. UFC 68 featured some random dude named Randy Couture coming out of retirement to take on Tim Sylvia for the heavyweight title. Sylvia might be a 473-pound MMA punchline now, but eight years ago he was the class of the division. Couture had retired a year beforehand after Chuck Liddell dusted him, and was killing time by grappling with Ronaldo Souza and starring in Pros vs. Joes on Spike TV. Suddenly he was back in the UFC, at heavyweight no less, and was taking on Blind Date's finest for the title.
I watched this fight in my then-local bar in Victoria, BC. When Couture dropped Sylvia eight seconds into the fight, everyone lost their collective poop. The fight wasn't exactly awesome for the next 24:52, but it didn't matter after that. Captain America had returned to save the day from the Ogre, and all was right with the world.
Random fact - Jamie Varner earned his "Worm" nickname after defeating Jason Gilliam on the UFC 68 prelims.
So what else happened on March 3rd, you ask? I got you covered homies.
2011 - UFC on Versus 3: Sanchez vs. Kampmann - Remember Versus? That WEC channel? When the WEC gobbled them up, they had to give Versus some big-boy events, and one of them was this show. It took place in the KFC Yum! Center in Louisville. I'll allow you to make the jokes there. The card was decimated by injuries, but still managed to be pretty good. Sanchez won a decision in the main event (unlike nowadays, it was actually a legit decision....LOL no it wasn't). The biggest historical note though was probably the UFC debut of one Chris Weidman, who decisioned Alessio Sakara on the main card.
2012 - Let's start with Strikeforce, and that whole Tate/Rousey thing. Rousey was making her 135-pound debut after a bunch of drama about her talking her way into a title shot. Tate managed to take her late into the first round (over three minutes longer than Rousey had been in her career), but she became a victim to the armbar for the first time and Ronda won the Strikeforce women's bantamweight title. Less than one year later, she was main-eventing a UFC PPV and well on her way to super-stardom.
What else happened on that card? Paul Daley bloodied up Japanese legend Kazuo Misaki, but lost a decision in Misaki's last bout. Some dude named Jacare choked out a future TUF guy too.
The UFC also ran a card that day (?) in Australia. It was the 3rd in Sydney, but the 2nd in North America. Martin Kampmann submitted Thiago Alves with 48 seconds left in a main event that Alves was dominating until he swallowed a stupid pill. This was also the day that Ian McCall will remember forever - where there was supposed to got to an overtime round in his bout with Demetrious Johnson, but Aussie officials couldn't count so it went to a draw instead. DJ has been riding high, making Microsoft money since then. Creepy has been mostly recovering from hand surgeries.
2013 - JAPAN! The UFC returned to the Land of the Rising Sun with one of the biggest foreign stars in MMA history, Wanderlei Silva, on top. The former Pride champ met this soldier-now-turned-commentator named Brian Stann in the main event, and at 205 to boot so they didn't have to deplete themselves to the point that it might have cut down on the face-punching. True to form, there was a truckload of face-punching. In one of the most violent fights of the year, Silva managed to come out on top with a second-round knockout victory. Stann retired after said bout, which probably wasn't a terrible idea.
The rest of the card was pretty entertaining too. Mark Hunt broke Stefan Struve's face so badly that we all now recognize an x-ray of his head immediately. Oh, and Diego Sanchez took 50 Cent's advice and learned How to Rob when he...well, ROBBED the best fighter of all time, Takanori Gomi. Ross Pearson probably has something to complain about too, but as usual, Gomi was front-running there. It was super depressing.