In case you haven’t been paying much attention, Ronda Rousey was and is the reason that women’s MMA blew up and is as popular in the UFC as it is today. She is ferocious, has a great personality, and became the UFC’s most marketable figure, pre-Conor Mcgregor. She was on an unbeaten run, tearing through her opposition until she met Holly Holm. Rather more skilled in distance manipulation and a millimetre perfect counter-strike, Holm was a nightmare match up for Rondas rush in and bully style. We saw Ronda staggered and beat up in the first round, and as she stumbled into the second she was met with a near perfect head kick, sending her out cold, toes curled upward, doing that awkward breathing that people do when their brain is shut off. The world had been flipped upside down, the unbeaten had been beaten.
That was a year ago, and she has taken some time off to recover and decide if she wants to fight again, luckily for us, she does. We will see her take on current Women’s Bantamweight champion, Amanda Nunes. Since Rouseys departure no one has successfully defended the belt, which tends to happen once a dominant fighter gets dethroned, there is usually a bit of turmoil within the respective division until someone dominant comes along again. Is this Rouseys time to reclaim the throne? Or will Amanda stop her dead in her tracks and bring the belt back to Brazil?
Rousey looks in incredible shape, from the short promo videos we’ve seen from the UFC, she is not taking this lightly and is already apparently not far off from her fighting weight of 135lbs. If we haven’t yet seen Ronda at her physical best, then this should surely be a treat, right? You’d think so. The problem is, the massive holes in her game that Holly Holm exposed in their last fight. Ronda likes to rush in, overwhelm and bully her opponents, toss them on their back and take their arm home. Which works relatively well, until you meet a real specialist in striking. Is Nunes an accomplished striker as Holm was? No, but, she’s powerful and accurate and has great Muay Thai skills, if she can keep herself on the outside and dodge Rondas bully tactics then she may be able to pick her apart, catch her behind the ear and the rest is history. Distance manipulation isn’t really Nunes style, though, she likes an aggressive, powerful dogfight. She may walk straight into one of Rondas traps. She likes you to move forward and engage her and she flourishes in a scramble.
For me, it all comes down to how much Rondas boxing has improved. She is still with her longtime coach Edward Tarverdyan, who has come under scrutiny many many times for his cornering style and coaching ability, for which I’m not going to speculate on here, there’s plenty of things about him online if you wish to research a bit more into him. Her boxing in the past was aggressive and was basically her way to close the distance and grab a hold of you. There was little-refined technique. In a year, with an amazing coach, especially with an athlete like Ronda, you can really make those changes, and we very well may see some really slick boxing, if this is the case, and she uses her hands to get in close and get the takedown, we may find ourselves with a new champ. Personally, I think had she gone to a new coaching team, she really would be something to behold and be scared of, but without that move, I think her skill acquisition is going to be fairly limited.
Her mindset has also been called into question by a fair few onlookers. Now, nobody knows what’s really going on in her head more than her. She may be so mentally solid that literally no one can take that belt away from her again, but, in her appearances (though few and far between) she seems like that over emotional slightly childish Ronda that we’re pretty used to seeing, though this time there’s a sorrow there that she can’t seem to get past. This doesn’t seem like her getting over a loss, she seems to be acting more like that night someone close to her died, and I don’t think she’s past that. If Nunes can stay calm and collected, I think Rondas mental state will be what is her eventual undoing. Her emotion and strong personality are what got her here, and Womans MMA wouldn’t be the same without her, but it may be her eventual downfall.
UFC 207 is this Friday night, the male bantamweight championship is also on the line, current champ Dominic Cruz looks to out dance a male knockout artist Cody Garbrandt. No matter how much I’d like Garbrandt to send Cruz’s smug smile into the stratosphere, I think it’s Cruz’ fight to lose.