Okay, so this is to take nothing away from Ronda Rousey. She’s great by any standard and what she brings to the table as a woman in combat sports is unprecedented and amazing. This is just some historical perspective. She is undefeated in 12 bouts. Floyd Mayweather, the biggest star in boxing, has been around a lot longer and is undefeated in 48 bouts, and is about to retire.
I just finished reading a book about the great featherweight boxer Willie Pep, whose prime era was the 1940s. He won his first 67 fights before his first loss. That is more fights than modern fighters have in their whole careers. Did he have more losses after that first one? Sure, he had 11 – out of 229 fights.
That is insane by today’s standards – the career of 4 or 5 fighters put together. What it means is he didn’t spend half the year living a relatively normal life, then go to training camp for 2-3 months for his yearly or twice-yearly bout. It means he had to stay in conditioning always, and compete constantly. In his prime he fought every TWO WEEKS, and won every time. Think about that.
This is not a commentary on Rousey, who is great and important, or anyone else in the modern age, really. But the game has changed, and it’s not just romantic nostalgia to say that the old-time fighters were a different breed. They were.