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Wednesday, June 19, 2019

What Ronda Rousey did wrong against Holly Holm

Ronda Rousey looked like a wrecking machine prior to her fight with Holly Holm. Rousey was 12-0, had only been taken past the first round of a fight once, and she had won all but three of her fights within the first 66 seconds. But then she got her head handed to her as she was soundly beaten by the former world boxing champion at UFC 193.

How could someone who had enjoyed so much success in her career get destroyed like that? The answer is she had a terrible gameplan.

Check that: she didn’t have a gameplan.

Rousey came out aggressively and just attacked, attacked, attacked against Holm. Holm meanwhile maintained her distance and just tried to capitalize with straight lefthands from long range.

Ronda Rousey face

Rousey, who is an expert at judo and a master of the armbar, tried to stand and beat a world champion boxer by outboxing her. It was almost like she thought “I am Ronda Rousey. I am invincible. I am a killing machine. I beat everyone I face within the first 30 seconds just by pressing forward and attacking. It doesn’t matter who my opponent is, because I will win.”

But in this case, the opponent did matter. I cannot stress how dumb it was to try and trade punches in the standup with a world champion boxer. Rousey got battered and bloodied as a result, and she never really tried to change.

Did Rousey try to take the fight to the ground? I only saw two occasions where she got close to Holm and tried to toss her judo-style. Holm was strong enough to defend them perfectly. Rousey never really tried to shoot Holm’s legs and get her down to the mat where she would have the advantage.

I think there are two reasons why Rousey didn’t try to fight the smarter fight, which would have been to take the woman who comes from the boxing background to the ground and getting her away from her best weapon: striking.

1) Rousey was just too cocky and thought she was invincible. And why shouldn’t she have been? She had run through everyone else just the same — why would this be any different?

2) I think she has been on a mission to make herself a more well-rounded fighter, so she has been intentionally going away from the armbar. She made her mark on the sport by winning her first eight fights — all by armbar. Since 2014, she has only won one of her five fights via armbar. She beat Sara McMann, Alexis Davis and Bethe Correia by doing other things such as striking. Rousey has gotten away from her bread and butter because she is trying to show she is more than an armbar specialist. Had she focused on what she does best, I think she would have had more success against Holm. Instead she tried to show she can win any way she wants, but she couldn’t against Holm.

Rousey actually had a poor gameplan against Bethe Correia. She did the same thing against Correia that she did against Holm — she came out aggressively and just went out looking for a knockout. She ate a lot of punches against Correia before landing the knockout blow. She didn’t protect herself. She took a lot of damage before winning, but most people overlook that since she won in 34 seconds. That outcome was actually bad for Rousey, because it reinforced her thinking that she could do anything and still win.

Rousey fought carelessly and stupidly against Holm. She came out like a maniac without a plan. Holm had a plan and executed it perfectly.

Hopefully Rousey will be more cautious in the rematch and focus on trying to take the fight to the ground where she has the advantage.

I’ve always likened Rousey and her success with the armbar to Mariano Rivera and the cutter. She has a dominant move just like he had a dominant pitch that made his career. Can you imagine if Rivera said “I know I have a great cutter that gets people out, but I want to show that I have other good pitches too.” Then can you imagine him only throwing one or two cutters against the 3-4-5 hitters in a lineup and instead going with a fastball and curve, which are good, but not his best pitches? That’s what Rousey is doing. It’s stupid and she should change it.

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