Can Ronda Rousey Finish Storybook Opening to Career With Title Win Over Miesha Tate at Strikeforce:Tate vs. Rousey?

Ronda Rousey has had a fairly storied career so far in MMA. A judoka with a Bronze medal in the 2008 Olympic Games, Rousey has exploded onto the women’s MMA scene like no other. With a 4-0 professional record that has followed a 3-0 amateur career, Rousey’s quick finishes have given her one of the most meteoric rises in MMA history. And her good looks and penchant to ape Chael Sonnen’s trash talking have allowed her to get into both a title fight and a main event at this weekend’s Strikeforce event against current Strikeforce Women’s Bantamweight Champion Miesha Tate.

This is a rather intriguing fight because while we have plenty of footage and fights to look at of Tate, coming off an arm triangle submission victory over Marloes Coenen, Rousey’s fights all have the same refrain: armbar submission in under a minute. If you take all of Rousey’s fights on both a professional and amateur level they don’t last longer than a five minute round; combined she’s only had 4:01 of actual cage time in seven total fights. And they all have the same style: Rousey goes for a takedown as insanely fast as she can, hits a throw or a takedown and latches onto an armbar for a quick finish. And that’s how she’s going to come out for this fight, too. Rousey comes out of the corner like every second of the fight could be spent doing something else and she has to get out as soon as she can.

It’s as if she’s been told that an orphan is going to be shot if she goes into the second round, like in a bad Wesley Snipes direct to video genre picture called “Orphan Shock” opposite a rapper turned actor.

Her style is simple: she comes out like a bat out of Hell looking for a takedown into an armbar and nothing else will do. So far she’s a good enough pure athlete to be able to pull it off. It’s the one that’s defined her career so far; Rousey comes from a great camp and is remarkably talented on a purely athletic level. It’s the one thing clearly evident from all 241 seconds of her MMA career has shown dramatically so far. Rousey is an extraordinarily talented athlete in a WMMA world that has precious few of them.

That first minute is going to be the key for Miesha Tate. The one thing that we haven’t seen out of Rousey so far that Tate has to do is how she’s going to react when she doesn’t get that first takedown attempt into a grappling match. Does she press it and take chances she wouldn’t if Tate defends the takedown well and open her chin up to something that could change the course of the fight? Does she try and get into a sloppy brawl with Tate? We don’t know the answers and the longer the fight goes Tate (and the rest of the MMA world) will find out.

It has characterized her career so far in that Rousey’s entire strategy has been to barrel forward and try to walk through anything her opponent throws at her to get that initial clinch tie up and go for any sort of takedown. Tate’s plan is going to be to keep her at distance and try to time her when she wades forward. If Tate can connect early with a big power punch while she’s wading in, instead of a jab like many of Rousey’s opponents, she can dictate where the fight takes place.

Tate has to make her leery of that bull-rush; throwing a pitter-patter jab and connecting isn’t going to scare Rousey away from going for broke to get that takedown.

That’s been the key for Rousey’s entire fight career in that she is more than willing to take a jab or an inside leg kick, or multiples of both, to get what she wants. It’s about getting that initially clinch tie up for her and so far no one has thrown anything with velocity while she wades in. We don’t know how she’ll react if she gets his with a big power shot.

She’s used a remarkable amount of variety in seven fights to get her opponents down from throws to trip takedowns; she’s trained a lot in Greco-Roman wrestling tie-ups, it’s evident, based on how she uses her footwork and her setups for throws. Plenty of it is from her judo background but her setups have evolved over the past year with enough consistency to give her more of a variety than those purely from someone with a pure judo background. It’s the difference in setups that’s fairly intriguing when you look at Rousey. She’s evolved in a short amount of time as a fighter.

Tate is an excellent grappler and has been good enough so far to dictate favorable position in her fighting career for the most part. Coming out of a great team in Urijah Faber’s Team Alpha Male, Tate is a terrific wrestler and grappler but she hasn’t faced anyone with the sheer crazed-aggression that Rousey brings to the table. But what she does bring to the table that Rousey doesn’t is significantly more experience as a fighter.

The key for her in this fight is going to be taking Rousey as deep as she can. She has to survive that opening blitzkrieg and force Rousey to play her game. We don’t know much about Rousey’s striking game but the few times she’s throw strikes it’s been fairly rudimentary; she fights a lot like Jake Shields in that regard. Her entire purpose is to get her opponent close and then to the ground, so sloppy boxing can suffice because so far no one has been able to stop her. Tate has refined kickboxing in comparison and much more experience banked.

Tate has gone to a three round decision and trained for a five round fight before; Rousey is wading into a title fight and potentially having to go 25 minutes while cutting to 135 for the first time. The further it goes the better for Tate as Rousey hasn’t completed a single round in MMA. She can train all she wants but nothing will prepare her for it until someone actually does it. If Tate can get her deep into the fight she can win; Rousey’s best chance is to catch her early with an armbar variant and snatch the title out of Tate’s hands.

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