Beginner’s Guide: Ronda Rousey
We understand MMA is a rapidly growing sport, and that means there are lots of people who aren’t familiar with the sport who are beginning to become fans. Keeping those fans in mind, we’re starting a new feature called the “Beginner’s Guide”. These beginners guide articles will educate people on different techniques, organizations, and figures within mixed martial arts. For our first article, who better to introduce than the current face of women’s MMA: Ronda Rousey.
Ronda Rousey, current Strikeforce bantamweight champion & current face of women’s MMA, is one of the most-talked about names in the male-dominated world of mixed martial arts for a variety of reasons. Obviously, the fact that she’s a female cage fighter draws a lot of attention from fans and media alike. She has quite a bit of sex appeal as well, having appeared in the most recent ESPN Magazine ‘Body Issue’ and numerous other publications. What makes her stand out, though, is her skill. In the last year alone she has taken over women’s MMA and is the consensus #1 pound-for-pound female fighter in the world.
Ronda started her athletic career as a judo practitioner, competing in the 2004 and 2008 Olympics. In 2004 she was the youngest judoka in the entire games, and in 2008 took home bronze. She was the first American woman to earn an Olympic medal in Judo. She has won numerous gold medals outside of the Olympics and was a force to be reckoned with in Judo. Her mother, too, was a world champion in Judo. It wasn’t until 2010 that Rousey began competing in mixed martial arts, but she has not looked back since. Rousey has only been in the mainstream MMA scene since late 2011, which makes her meteoric rise even more incredible. Her first pro fight was in March 2011, and she entered into the public eye after a particularly brutal submission win in November 2011 snapping her opponents arm. She fought for the title in March 2012 and has defended it one time since.
Rousey is undefeated in her amateur (3-0) and professional (6-0) bouts, and has attained this record in unbelievable fashion. Fights can be ended one of three ways in MMA; in a decision, KO/TKO, or submission. If the fight goes the full designated time judges will score the fight and decide a winner (decision). The fight can be ended if a fighter is knocked out (KO) or the referee decides the fighter cannot intelligently defend himself (TKO). The fight can also end when a fighter manipulates the opponents body (usually on the ground) by choking them or contorting an arm or a leg to where it will break (submission). The opponent then taps out when they realize they are in trouble, or the referee will stop the fight if they are choked unconscious or have an arm/leg snap. Some fighters are better on their feet and get more KO/TKO victories while others are more skilled grapplers and look for a submission. Normally fighters will have a combination of decisions, KO/TKO’s, and submissions on their record for their wins and losses.
Ronda is so technically skilled grappling (judo & jiu-jitsu) that every single one of her fights has ended with a submission victory in the first round by armbar. Only one of her nine opponents has lasted more than one minute with her. She’s that good. Her judo technique allows her to throw her opponents to the ground, and with superior Brazilian jiu-jitsu ability she usually taps her opponents out in seconds. The fact that she has won all her fights in the first round (almost all in the first minute), won all fights by submission, and each submission being of armbar variety would be an incredible feat on their own. All three together is almost unbelievable.
No fighter, male or female, has a more impressive record. Even Georges St-Pierre, Anderson Silva, and Jon Jones; kings of men’s MMA, have been tested in fights and at times have shown weakness. No fighter in history, male or female, has been able to rise to the elite level of mixed martial arts and dominate every opponent the way Rousey has.
Even with her astounding pedigree in the cage, she’s known just as well for her personality outside the cage. Very active on twitter, she has put out a very outgoing and friendly personality to fans, media, and many fighters. She has another side, though, and when she has a problem with someone she’s extremely outspoken about it. She has had very harsh words for Olympian Michael Phelps and Kim Kardashian, and is one of the best trash talkers in the sport when it comes to her future opponents. She constantly downplays the abilities of her opponents using harsh language, and does so unapologetically citing that it’s something that will generate more publicity for the sport. Many consider her to be the one who introduced trash talking into the previously very tame women’s MMA scene.
The other current standout in women’s MMA is a fighter by the name of Cris “Cyborg” Santos who has a record of 10-1, and is about to come off a year-long suspension for testing positive for an anabolic steroid. The feud between Cyborg and Rousey has been the one of the most publicized and heated in MMA history, not just women’s MMA. Cyborg, a 145-lb fighter is a nightmare for opponents winning most fights by early KO/TKO. Rousey, a 135-lb fighter has called Cyborg a man (referring to the steroid suspension), “Cyroid”, and thrown a litany of verbal assaults her way. Cyborg has reciprocated the attacks, and the two seem destined to fight when Cyborg comes off her suspension in December. It is still disputed what weight the fight will take place at, as either refuses to move to the other’s weight.
Currently the UFC (the top promotion by far in MMA) does not have a division for female fighters, and the top women in the world fight for a promotion called ‘Strikeforce’ that puts on both men’s and women’s bouts. Zuffa LLC purchased Strikeforce in March 2011 in a move many compared to the NFL’s acquisition of the AFL. UFC President Dana White has hinted that the UFC may in the future open up a division for female fighters, and that Ronda Rousey being the face of women’s MMA helps that prospect a lot calling her a “rock star” and saying “she’s got the whole package”.
Before Ronda Rousey arrived on the scene, the landscape of women’s MMA was not a very bright one, but she has the potential with her skills alone to elevate the entire sport much like Billie Jean King did with women’s tennis. Along with her beauty and outspoken personality, her endorsement potential seems limitless. Considering it has only been a year since she stepped into the public eye, it will be very interesting to see how much she can continue to elevate herself along with the sport of women’s MMA.
Image courtesy Telegraph.co.uk