UFC 190, from the beginning, was a very cynical card.
Ronda Rousey is the greatest crossover star in the history of the sport but for all Dana White waxes poetic about her, his actions say something different.
There’s no doubt that Correia used the topic of suicide to trash talk and Rousey had every right to be enraged, but Correia never targeted Rousey’s father specifically with it. Yet it was played up as Rousey “getting vengeance” instead of “Rousey beating pitiful contender with limited English”. Not to mention six undercard fights with rather large non-titlist payroll fighters stacked on.
When Dana White pulls strings to try and get Demetrius Johnson some PPV buys most people seem to recognize the business machinations but far fewer will call out a Rousey card for the same thing (granted, he’s never had the casual appeal of Rousey).
I could be dead wrong, but I don’t think I am.
But we’re not here to talk about the best athlete in WMMA (Cyborg eat your heart out) running through yet another utterly abysmal contender. We’re here to talk about how Rousey, even while facing a lack of competition, is getting better.
There wasn’t much to watch in the half a minute it took to end the “fight” but we learned some things.
The two issues I had with Ronda Rousey are actually the same two I have with Cain Velasquez: no head movement and rushing forward into the clinch. Sara McMann was able to jack Rousey with two right hands as she came forward but, since good striking is non-existent outside of Rousey and Holm in the division, she got clinched and knee’d to death while no other opponent even came close.
Head movement is still an issue for Rousey. Correia gave up a four inch reach advantage and was utterly outclassed yet she still managed to bloody Rousey’s nose with a pair of stiff jab as she rushed forward.
In the cases where a lengthier fighter gets hit by a straight punch it’s usually the result of a counter shot like Andrei Arlovski’s low right straight against Travis Browne or Browne leaping forward to plow through Stefan Struve. Getting bloodied in the open mat by such a pitiful contender is less acceptable.
Power is borderline non-existent in the women’s bantamweight division, so Rousey got away with it. Once Rousey started getting into clinch range however, I was delighted by what I saw.
Ronda Rousey has the most lethal clinch in mixed martial arts. I would much rather be on the receiving end of the thai plum of Matt Brown or the exhausting body work of Cain Velasquez than have Ronda Rousey get a hold of me. Rousey has the best judo mixed martial arts has ever seen and I thought we’d never match the majesty of Karo Parisyan.
Because of that, no fighter wants to get into the clinch. So Rousey used the threat of the judo throw to blast away at Correia. When Rousey got a single hand on her, Correia immediately began to duck and pull away at which point Rousey started blasting her with uppercuts.
Instead of pushing to get the fight into the clinch, she used the threat of the clinch itself to set up strikes. I cannot emphasize how valuable this is.
Look at the difference between Roy Nelson and Mark Hunt as an example. Both fighters have ungodly power in their right hands. But while Nelson swings wildly with his right hand looking for the knockout, Hunt uses the mere threat of his right hand to circle fighters into his left. As a result Nelson has looked completely outclassed lately while Hunt has looked sublime against all but the best fighters.
If anything, this fight evaporated what little hope I had that Miesha Tate stood a chance against Rousey. Tate showed new wrinkles on the feet but now that Rousey holds advantages in both striking and grappling in the clinch the fight will be a blood bath.
Even with the over marketing, being the “most dominant athlete” despite all the talented fighters in her weight class being across the gender line and the cheesy soundbites I still admire Rousey.
Ronda Rousey is getting better because she wants to, not because she has to.
Athletes across gender, race and age should look at her and learn. If you truly love your sport, you improve because it’s just what you do.