Leading into UFC 157, my biggest concern was that Ronda Rousey would run through Liz Carmouche so quickly that it would just reinforce the Neanderthal Class’s opinion that women’s MMA was a shallow pool brought into the promotion for Ronda to splash in. That wasn’t the case – Carmouche showed herself to be a confident fighter and smart strategist who almost caught Rousey and poked a number of holes in her once seemingly invincible aura. Without being as bitchy as Miesha Tate and Cat Zingano, let’s take a looksie:
She leaves herself open to being backmounted when she goes for her judo throws – guess she never had to worry about shit like that in the Olympics. Liz Carmouche’s team obviously figured that one out and had her train it extensively – what other weaknesses have Ronda’s years of training judo technique into her muscle memory left open?
Ronda’s rear naked choke defense isn’t great. You may remember Jon Fitch spending 15 minutes with Demian Maia on his back in his final UFC outing – he practically gave the position away the entire fight because he was obviously confident that he could keep Maia off his neck. His ability to pry hands out from under his chin and keep his forearms in the way of them getting there in the first place is legendary. Rousey’s team may wanna take a look at that and start training extensively because she absolutely sucked at keeping Carmouche from locking up that face crank.
Attacking an opponent that is on her back. It’s easy to forget Ronda Rousey is still pretty new at this MMA stuff – her first amateur fight was at the end of 2010. And while she’s a killer in the clinch via her judo and getting better every fight in yer average sparring positions, she seemed pretty hesitant once she was standing over a Carmouche that was ready to upkick her in the face.
That armbar really might be her only trick. And not to diss it – it is a pretty badass trick and Ronda can hit it from a hundred different positions and situations. But when she was in side control and had Carmouche trapped in a headlock, she had little to offer other than softening blows. A wider repertoire of offensive submissions would obviously be a boon to the women’s bantamweight champion.
Her opponents are getting better at armbar defense. This one kinda dovetails off the one trick pony thing: the problem with being so predictable with your submissions is it makes it easy for your opponents to prepare. Carmouche knew she had to be ready for armbars and kept her limbs appropriately out of reach when she could and locked them down when they were being grabbed at. She did a pretty decent job of it too (as decent as you can while still losing in the first round) and future contenders will only train harder to prepare themselves for the most obvious gameplan in the UFC.
It’s not like all of this doesn’t make sense – Ronda is still pretty new to the sport and opponents are going to continue to analyze the extensive amount of film on her to find potential holes. And Rousey will probably slam those holes shut as fast as they are found too. But it is interesting to see that while still overwhelmingly dominant, Rousey isn’t looking as invincible as many were expecting her to be coming into the UFC. And the caliber of opponents she faces will only increase – Cat Zingano being the biggest immediate threat of all the women the UFC has signed.