Recently I did something I hadn’t done in a long time – I watched a UFC pay-per-view. UFC 269 had several fights on it that I thought would be interesting to check out, including the two main even title fights. One of the title bouts was for the UFC Women’s Bantamweight title, pitting the Number-Three ranked Julianna Pena against the most dominant female fighter in mixed martial arts, the Two-Division Champion (holding titles in both the Bantamweight and Featherweight division) Amanda Nunes.
Nunes has brutalized every woman in her path with her immense power advantage, beating her opponents with her striking and grappling. This fight was not expected to be much different. It was the pay-per-view’s co-main event under the lightweight title fight. Most people saw this as an appetizer of violence before the Main Event. Julianna Pena was being thrown to the wolves, and everyone from the Las Vegas oddsmakers to the UFC announcers themselves never seemed to give Pena much of a chance.
Then Julianna Pena shocked the world in what many consider the biggest upset in MMA history and defeated Amanda Nunes to become the new UFC Women’s Bantamweight Champion.
Pena didn’t just beat Nunes. She beat her at her own game, standing toe-to-toe with the champ and outstruck the stronger striker. Pena wore out Nunes, fighting off grappling submissions before getting a submission of her own in the second round of the scheduled five-round bout.
How could this happen? Nunes was the superior fighter. So how did the superior fighter lose?
Reality punched her square in the face.
This kind of thing has happened to a number of dominant champions. They train hard to reach the top, but after crushing everyone they face they sometimes begin to see themselves as unbeatable. They take their foot off the gas a little and begin to cruise. They don’t see any opponents as a threat. They take their opposition lightly, maybe get a little cocky. That’s when they get caught and lose everything they worked so hard to achieve.
This brings me neatly along to my Rise of the Runelords campaign.
When Paizo created many of their adventure paths, they balanced them around a group consisting of four players, each using a character created with a 15-point buy system. That may not make much sense to folks, especially old-timers like me who are used to the 3d6 method of rolling out stats, but that’s okay. Just know it’s more of a baseline method of determining character ability scores.
My players are not baseline. They created their characters using a 20-point buy system, and there are 5-6 players at a time. As you might think, they tend to steamroll many of the combat encounters, especially now that they have a level or several under their belts. I try to adjust the situation to account for this, but for the most part, the party has not been threatened in a long time.
Like the now-former UFC Women’s Bantamweight Champion, the Saviors of Sandpoint did not heed the warnings. They brutalized everyone in their path and chose to take risks without taking into account the possible ramifications of those decisions. But at the end of this session, the players – much like Amanda Nunes – had received a violent reality check.
Read how it went down in Rise of the Runelords Episode 33 – Home Invasion!