Dimensions, Progression, and The Rowdy One

(Disclaimer: I am not objective. I'm in love with Ronda Rousey. I loved Ronda Rousey before you, and love Ronda Rousey more than you. Deal with it.)

Calling Ronda Rousey one dimensional is extremely stupid.

At least in my arrogant, subjective opinion. I'd like to think that there are three dimensions of Mixed Martial Arts. I break these down into striking based fighting, grappling based fighting, and transition based fighting. That said, this concept can be a bit confusing considering different aspects of MMA bleed into the other. Wrestling is a form of grappling, but it is also a form of transitional fighting (whether it's a straight take down or an escape or reversal). Although this is a post for another day, I think that the more your skills bleed and the more fluid you are going in and out of all three aspects, the more successful of a fighter you will be.

That said, lets break the three dimensions on MMA fighting into three simple categories: Striking, Grappling and Wrestling (interchangeable with the common perception of "throw only" judo that exists in a lot of peoples minds).

If you look at Ronda's skill set from this perspective, Rousey is very much a two dimensional fighter. Her take down attack is similar to high level MMA wrestlers on the Men's side. Most great MMA wrestlers (maybe barring Edgar or Cruz who have more timing based styles) are very fluid and chain together take down attempts. Ben Askren has very little striking to set up his wrestling, but if you look at his fights he'll often fail on a take down, but transition to another until he gets his opponent down. GSP has similar success with his double leg, single leg, knee tap series of take down attempts. Ronda does this with her judo, if she fails a throw she'll go for a trip, and if she fails a trip she'll re-adjust and go for a throw (and if that ever fails, she'll probably just pull guard and get what she wants). That said, not only is she phenomenal at chaining together throws and trips to get take downs, but she is also a very good top and bottom position grappler. Whether it is passing guard on Tate, pulling guard to get her arm bar, or understanding the subtitles of positional grappling from dominant positions (textbook work on Tate when she got the side mount to establish control and advance to her next position), Rousey is a straight up beast on the ground.

Her transition fighting is also amazing. You'll see in a lot of MMA bouts that when someone lands a take down, they usually take a second to re-adjust from a wrestling mode (or a striking mode if they are being taken down) to grappling mode (if you forgive the video game terminology). Ronda is different though. The second the fight hits the ground she is immediately transitioning to an arm bar. This is only because she has an amazing amount of confidence in her signature move. As soon as the fight hits the floor, almost instantaneously you have to worry about this beast of a woman trying to rip your arm out of its socket. If you take one second to respond and change "modes" your already one step behind the game.

Which brings me to what I really wanted to post about. The third dimension of Rousey's potential skill set, her striking. Now, I caution to say that Rousey has no third dimension to her game. Honestly, we've probably seen Ronda strike a combined minute in her entire career. Spamming jabs seems to work for her. I also want to note that the level of striking in WMMA is not very high, and Rousey becoming an average striker by male standards would probably put her in the upper level of strikers at bantamweight on the female side.

Two things I'd like to point out here. Tate and Rousey are bound to rematch each other. There is too much bad blood and good looks in a rematch to not happen down the line. More importantly however, is the dichotomy between training and fighting. Any high level MMA coach probably has one or two guys in the gym who are beasts in training, but can't translate their skills to an actual fight (in boxing these guys might become career sparring partners). Fighters can train skills in the gym all they want, but most of the time it doesn't manifest unless they have an opportunity to use it in an actual fight. Sometimes in MMA we'll see a prospect dominate his first set of opponents with one skill set, then decision an opponent with another to get in that cage time. Sometimes it's a conscious effort, and sometimes it's a result of a gatekeeper forcing a prospect to fight differently.

Long story short, I think Rousey should make a conscious decision to strike with Meisha Tate the next time they fight.

Now let me make this clear, I'm not hoping that Ronda stand and wangs and fights against her skills. I hope that Rousey uses a Tate rematch as an opportunity to get "cage time" and improve her striking through practical application in a fight. Of course this is a risk, but I think it's one that promises more long term rewards. Tate would probably be the best opponent to try this on. Tate is not a powerful or technical striker, the biggest threat she serves is changing levels for a take down. Honestly, I would be shocked if Tate ever took Rousey down. Rousey would probably just counter her and toss her through the air, or just stuff her and put her back up against the fence. Worst case scenario is that she ends up on her back and slaps that arm bar on her. I think I'd be interesting if Ronda used this potential fight to gauge where she is at and get that experience in.

I already think that Rousey is the best female fighter, but I think that this could help her develop skills that would be beneficial in the long run. It couldn't hurt her in a potential Cyborg fight either. Personally, I think a universe where Ronda develops to the point where she can drop a homie with punches and finish them with an arm bar would be a cool one to live in. Now, I'm certainly a cynic, and I'm not expecting that Rousey would turn a weakness into a strength when she is so good already at two thirds of the game. But a nerdy hipster can dream can't he?

That said, if Rousey started to talk as much shit in the ring as she does out, both physically and verbally abusing her opponents Diaz style while styling on them on the feet, the internet might just explode. And so would my heart.

\The FanPosts are solely the subjective opinions of Bloody Elbow readers and do not necessarily reflect the views of Bloody Elbow editors or staff.

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