A Message From Dr. Ferguson
I’ve known Dr. DeMars, which some of you know as America’s first ever World Champion in the sport of judo, for almost 10 years now. I’ve seen her, met her, chatted with her and we even talk on the phone from time to time. She is a wonderful woman. Annnnnnnddddd….. as two PhDs we certainly enjoy good quality discourse and a rich well thought out argument from time to time.
After Ronda’s fight on Strikeforce, I offered my journalistic opinion concerning the match. It took no time at all for my friend and mentor, in a sense, to offer the services to straighten me out. In the midst of the conversation I said, “You write it and I will post it.” And as a man of my word, here’s Ronda’s Mom, Dr. AnnMaria DeMars’ retort to my post: Ronda Rousey Wins In The Midst Of Controversy
A Message From Dr. DeMars
Ronda Rousey’s Mom Speaks
Armbars and One Answer to Dr. Rhadi Ferguson
First of all, since things get twisted around on the Internet, let me start by stating up front that I personally like and respect Dr. Rhadi Ferguson, and I know my daughter, Ronda, does, too. Rhadi was a 2004 Olympic team member for judo, has since earned a Ph.D., started a business, is a devoted father and is married to a successful woman, Dr. Traci Ferguson.
What’s not to like?
That said, sometimes Rhadi and I respectfully discuss and disagree with one another.
Now, for my points. Rhadi has asked me a couple of things and since I have been so busy with work I haven’t had a chance to answer him, I thought I’d kill two birds with one stone.
What do I think of Ronda not breaking Sarah D’Alelio’s arm?
My answer may surprise some people. I’m okay with roughness.
When necessary, I’m okay with violence. I think you don’t need unnecessary roughness and gratuitous violence.
Yes, I armbarred a lot of people when I was competing. There is even a picture of some major tournament where I am standing on the podium in first place and both the women on the second and third place steps have their arms in a sling. There are a lot of pictures of me standing on a podium where at least one of the other medalists has an arm in a sling. Jerry Hays, the USJF historian, could probably make a collage of them.
One true confession I never let out when I was competing is that I never deliberately hurt anybody I knew I could beat any way I wanted. So, if you’re from the German team and we’re fighting for a medal, if I need to do a backbend on your arm to get it, I will and I won’t feel the least remorse about it. I’m sure you’d do the same to me.
On the other hand, if you’re a sixteen-year-old brown belt and I have you in an armbar, what do I prove by breaking your arm? I’m going to wait for you to tap and wait for the referee to call it. Yes, anything can happen in a match, but seriously, if I can’t beat some kid two times out of three, I deserve to lose.
I am not comparing Ronda’s opponent with a brown belt. I don’t know anything about her except that the odds in Las Vegas were 6 to 1 against her and 3 to 1 against her even making it past the first round (I am a statistician, after all). I am saying that if Ronda felt she didn’t have to hurt the woman to win, then there was no point to her doing so.
What would I have done?
I was in almost the exact same position as Ronda more than once, where I armbarred a young woman, the referee called it and then the woman said she didn’t tap. In one case, I offered to get back down in the armbar position and the referees put us back into the position we were in when they had called the match, and I popped out her elbow.
I disagree with people who say my opponent that day was just being competitive and wanted to fight to the last second. If you are caught, you’re caught. The referees were doing her a favor. The other time I remember was in the finals of the World Team Trials. I armbarred Eve Aranoff and the referee called the match. They said she screamed. She said later that she hadn’t screamed or tapped, that it was me that kiai’ed as I went for her arm. I told her it was because I was so happy to have it. Yes, I would have broken Eve’s arm given half a chance and the referees no doubt knew it and so did she.
So, what did I tell Ronda? I told her that I was surprised she didn’t offer to get back in the same position and start again. Or to go again, right now. In fact, I think she DID offer. As someone on twitter said (sorry I didn’t catch your name), if someone can throw you and get you in an armbar in the first 25 seconds, they can probably do it again some time within the next 15 minutes. My suspicion is that Ronda felt confident she could beat Sarah without hurting her, and so she tried to do that.
You learn as a parent that you and your child are two different people. As anyone who knew me in the day can attest, I was an angry little person and would hurt you if you got in my way.
Ronda is a happy person and she will hurt you if you get in her way (you should have seen the look she gave the guy who checked out her little sister and her friends in Caesar’s Palace – I thought we were going to get co-ed MMA right there in the Forum Shops). She didn’t have anything against Sarah and didn’t feel in a position where she had to hurt her. People who don’t compete don’t understand (and I know Rhadi knows this) that most competitors are going to empathize with their competition more than anyone else. These are the people that train like you, want the same thing as you. I was a lot less Miss Congeniality as a competitor, but that’s the kind of empathetic person Ronda is.
But yes, we are going to have a little chat when Ronda gets home. I am dead certain if she is in a position where she has to take that arm off, she will. (As Jim Pedro, Sr. told her when she called him this morning, “You’re Gaw-dam right you will!”)
As for the people saying it was a mistake because it causes controversy about women’s mixed martial arts, I rather doubt it. People watch TV because of drama. Somebody getting knocked down and armbarred in 25 seconds isn’t very dramatic. Now people will tune in to the next match to see if the referee will stop it and if Ronda will dislocate the next woman’s arm. So, I think by protesting about it Sarah did Ronda a favor. Her next opponent, not so much.
I do have some motherly advice for that next opponent, whoever she might be.
Trust me on this one.
Hmmmm, I Guess We’ll
Speak Later Dr. Demars
Dr. DeMars, thank you so much for taking the time to reply and to opine on the bout on the Strikeforce Card on August 12 at the Palms Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas.
Rhadi Ferguson, PhD