Last night at Strikeforce Challengers 18, Ronda Rousey faced Sarah D'Alelio and, as usual, she wasted little time before she went for an armbar. The Olympic medalist in judo has won all five of her other (amateur and professional) MMA fights the same way, and all in under a minute. This time, she used a beautiful variation of a flying armbar and locked it up. Unfortunately, that's when it all went sideways.
In less than three seconds, Rousey locked up the armbar, cranked on it, then turned her head to referee Steve Mazzagatti (yes, THAT guy), told him that D'Alelio had submitted, and released the hold. When Mazzagatti didn't step in immediately, Rousey grabbed the arm again and was in the midst of reapplying the armbar when Steve finally decided it was time to step in at the 25 second mark. Sarah D'Alelio had not tapped out. It was an extremely awkward ending to the fight, to say the least.
After the fight, Mauro Ranallo interviewed both fighters. Rousey said she felt D'Alelio's elbow pop and heard her say "tap, tap", which she relayed to the referee and released the hold out of respect to her opponent. D'Alelio stated that she didn't verbally submit or tap out, she just said "Ahh" when the arm was locked up and cranked. D'Alelio's arm was fine though. Mazzagatti being late to react to all of that didn't help matters at all.
Jonathan Snowden over at MMA Nation made reference to Rousey letting up very quickly and basically said she needs to show a little more killer instinct. That is not the case at all. She let up that quickly precisely because she has shown so much killer instinct in her sporting past. She's actually earned quite a reputation for it, and is apparently trying to rid herself of it.
Rousey has had a judo and MMA career full of the kinds of events that went down last night. USA Today's Beau Dure posted a couple of articles in the comments of yesterday's piece about Rousey that really opened my eyes to how controversial her sporting career has been. Her mother, AnnMaria Rousey, was a world champion judo player as well and was known for being quite vicious and unforgiving. Ronda's career had the same sort of reputation attached to it, and by the age of 17 she was known as someone who frequently injured her opponents. With what, you ask? Armbars. Here's a snippet of the article:
It all came to a head Friday on the mat in San Diego. In the second round, Rousey was facing Telitha Ellis, 22, of Westfield, N.J. In a tournament last August, Rousey got Ellis in an armbar and things got ugly.
"She was cranking my arm hard, which you're supposed to do," Ellis says. "I tapped (surrendered), and she kept cranking, and my arm went 'pop, pop, pop.' "
In San Diego, healed, Ellis faced Rousey again, and again, she got caught in an armbar. Again, she tapped, but the referee didn't see it.
Of course, Rousey's mom, sitting at the scorer's table helping keep records on the matches, saw it.
"She tapped, she tapped!" she screamed toward the mat. "We all saw it!"
When the referee did nothing, Rousey let Ellis out of the hold. Only then did the referee signal a break and separate the players.
"I didn't want to seem so mean, like I hurt the same girl again," Rousey says.
A similar situation has already happened in her MMA career as well. In her last amateur bout earlier this year, Rousey submitted Taylor Stratford with an armbar, but Stratford never tapped there either. The referee just called a stop to the bout before Rousey could do any real damage. There's only one real conclusion that can be drawn from this - Ronda Rousey is a badass. (In a side note, it's particularly amusing to see one of Rousey's trainers, the legend Judo Gene Lebell in the ring with her after the Stratford fight. Lebell once choked out MMA guru Steven Seagal on the set of Under Siege.)
In conclusion, while the stoppage might be viewed as controversial by some, it's easy to understand the situation from both sides. Rousey, saddled by a reputation as a bully, has had this happen time and time again and was just trying to be respectful and not hurt her opponent. D'Alelio can rightfully claim that she never submitted, verbally or otherwise. And Mazzagatti didn't see D'Alelio say anything because Rousey's leg was in the way. Obviously he didn't hear it either. While it's definitely a stupid idea to stop the fight based just on what Rousey told him, it was pretty clear that D'Alelio was in trouble. All in all, it was just an unfortunate situation that marred a future star's first Strikeforce win. All I know is that I can't wait to see Ronda Rousey in a Strikeforce cage again. You can bag on Women's MMA all you want, but this girl is pretty talented.