Complete and utter dominance.
Ronda Rousey made short work of Bethe Correia at UFC 190 this past Saturday, knocking out the previously unbeaten Brazilian in just 34 seconds. Rousey has now won four of her last fights in under a minute.
Is her dominance a good thing or a bad thing for UFC?
“Well, I think long-term maybe people would say it’s a bad thing, but I think right now we’re all tuning in to witness greatness, and she keeps finding different ways to win,” UFC broadcaster Jon Anik said on CBS Sports Radio’s The Doug Gottlieb Show. “Most of her early career was defined by the arm bar. Granted, it came quickly, but she did it in a lot of different ways. But now you’re starting to see her attack the body and then of course for her most vilified opponent, a nice face-first-to-the-canvas knockout. So she continues to get it done in a number of different ways.”
Correia was vilified, rightfully so, for making insensitive remarks to Rousey leading up to the fight, saying she hoped Rousey wouldn’t kill herself after losing – knowing full well that Rousey’s father committed suicide when Rousey was a child. Then, at the weigh-in, Correia told Rousey not to cry after the fight.
Rousey returned the favor after her dominance in Rio, telling Correia not to cry after losing in her home country.
“I think that was about as much as Ronda was going to say after the fact,” Anik said. “She let her fists do the talking.”
Indeed, no arm-bar was necessary in this one. Neither was Rousey’s world-class judo technique. Indeed, the 28-year-old Rousey, who has won three of her last four fights via knockout, is developing into a versatile champion.
“She has become this otherworldly striker just by training,” Anik said. “I’ve been saying all week long, maybe to level the playing field, we should limit her training and let her only have one session a day because the gap right now between her and the No. 2 woman in the world is so pronounced. But yeah, she’s done a lot of work in training, hasn’t had a lot of time inside the octagon.”
Rousey’s last four fights have lasted a grand total of 130 seconds.
“It looked like maybe at one point (there was) a small window in the fight where she thought about going for one of her patented throws, and you thought maybe her instincts would take over,” Anik said. “But you’re right. She’s developed her hands to such an extent – coupled with the bad blood for this fight – that she wanted to get the knockout. Maybe she didn’t get it done in 16 seconds (like she did against Alexis Davis). so double that, add a couple ticks. Thirty-four seconds later, mission accomplished once again.”
Rousey’s next opponent might just be Miesha Tate – the only UFC fighter to get past the first round against Rousey. In fact, Tate took Rousey to the third round in December 2013 before submitting to the arm-bar.
Anik, however, doesn’t believe the third matchup between Rousey (12-0) and Tate (17-5) would be all that close.
“As much as Miesha is a different animal in 2015 – she’s won four fights in a row, she’s on a completely different strength and conditioning program, training full-time out of Vegas – Ronda is even that much more so a different animal,” Anik said. “I think you’re probably looking at Ronda being an 8-1 favorite when they fight for a third time.”
The press, meanwhile, is trying to put Rousey’s dominance into context. Some are comparing her to Mike Tyson in his early career – and certainly there are parallels to that. Gottlieb, though, believes Rousey is more like the U.S. women’s soccer team back in the day or even the Tennessee women’s basketball program in the 1980s. Tennessee was the first program to go all-in on women’s basketball and was dominant for decades until other programs – mainly Connecticut – slowly but surely caught up.
“I think both of those analogies are appropriate,” Anik said “I think the difference is is that unlike the gap between Tennessee and everybody else, I don’t think that these women in five to seven years – or however long Rousey’s career lasts – are going to be able to close that gap. But you’re right: so much of her success is rooted in lifelong, global one-on-one competition. There is a depth issue, there’s no doubt about it. Women weren’t in the UFC until 2013, and the No. 1 reason Dana (White) wouldn’t do it was because there wasn’t enough of a pool in which to pluck from.”
There still might not be a huge pool to pluck from, but White likely doesn’t care. Rousey has become one of the most popular athletes – not fighters, but athletes – in the world.
“She appeals to such a wide group of people,” Anik said. “She has hit demographics that MMA has never crossed into before. She’s got 10-year-old girls staying up until 1 o’clock in the morning on the East Coast to watch her Pay-Per-View. She’s got Doug Gottlieb buying UFC Pay-Per-Views. I don’t know what greater statement we can make about her, but she is the biggest superstar we’ve ever had. I don’t know if that’s a popular take, but with all due respect to Brock Lesnar, Anderson Silva, Georges St-Pierre, Jon Jones (and) Chuck Liddell, Ronda Rousey is the biggest star we’ve ever had – and we’re damn glad to have her.”