If you didn’t like Saturday night’s main event during UFC 157 you shouldn’t be allowed to watch MMA, much less comment on it. It was an incredible fight and her comeback victory was absolutely thrilling. Rousey was in a similar “rear naked torque,” first coined by SB Nation’s Luke Thomas that Demian Maia’s rear naked choke that popped a blood vessel en route to becoming a neck crank, and managed to fight out of it to pull off her patented arm bar submission finish. It was the most vulnerable Rousey has ever been in her career, of course, and the fact that she survived was something special.
Most people would’ve tapped to it; I was in pain just watching it. The crowd went nuts, of course, and the fact that Rousey survived and managed to pull off the victory shows just how tough a competitor she is. Carmouche in defeat gained a significant fan base because of how well she performed. If there ever was a chance that Rousey could be beaten she certainly survived it. This was everything that the first women’s fight in the UFC should’ve been. But it also exposed something that the UFC, who hyped her as a combination Diaz brother/Mike Tyson, couldn’t have wanted.
Ronda Rousey just had her first Kimbo Slice moment.
Slice long remains an MMA cautionary tale, having been exposed as nothing but an overhyped backyard brawler once he faced actual competition. But before he lost to Seth Petruzelli in devastating fashion he had a moment that exposed to the world just how to beat him. Slice had looked devastating before the James Thompson fight, knocking out legendary brawler and UFC stalwart David “Tank” Abbott, and against Thompson he may have won the fight but he lost the war. The book to beat him had been written; anyone with a modicum of talent would crack the code and expose him for being the overhyped YouTube sensation he wound up becoming.
Petruzelli was just the instrument … any halfway talented fighter was going to wind up exposing Kevin Ferguson for what he was. We can give Slice credit in that he tried to reinvent himself as a hard hitting heavyweight who was comfortable on the ground to a certain degree, of course, but by then it was too late. The buzz around Slice dissipated as soon as he started facing people other than homeless guys in someone’s backyard or fighters designed to pad his record. He went from being the guy people thought would be a future UFC champion based on his power alone to being a sideshow that couldn’t hack it once the level of competition rose to a respectable level.
Rousey remains right now an incomplete fighter who has holes in her game that can be exploited. Athletically no one can keep up with her, thus allowing her to be dominant in spite of vulnerabilities. She came into the bout as the best woman on the planet and remains so, of course. Can she get better? Of course she can. Her stand up looked improved, for as little as she stood and traded. Rousey’s over aggressiveness was something Carmouche exploited to take her back; Rousey may have fought her way out of it but she can also get better at not letting someone get that in the first place. Everything that is now a hole in game can be fixed; she’s young enough and talented enough that she won’t be this way forever. She’s certainly improved enough to the point from Strikeforce to Saturday night that similar leaps can be made in the future.
One can only imagine Alexis Davis watched that fight and thought that if she had Rousey’s back that she’d have the UFC title around her waist. Tito Ortiz, Cris “Cyborg” Santos’s manager, had to have been licking his chops as soon as he saw Rousey in that choke though in the same way the Thompson fight gave out a definitive idea to Slice’s skill level. The world had been waiting for a flaw in her game to arrive and it might’ve just been found.
Ronda Rousey still looked like the best woman’s fighter in the world. She came out of UFC 157 a bigger star than she came in, most likely, but some of the luster on her talents has to have been rubbed off. Kimbo also got the stoppage win over James Thompson, too.