Why women’s MMA needs Ronda Rousey to establish its legitimacy


First and foremost, I’m telling you right now that you probably aren’t going to like what I have to say, and I really don’t care.

And the reason is because, I’m telling the truth and the truth is this.

Women’s MMA will not be considered legitimate until people like Olympic Medalists Ronda Rousey and Sarah McMann make their impact on the sport, and the sooner the better.

What about Cyborg?

Look, Cyborg was on the way to truly legitimizing women’s MMA. She really was, but after her recent drug scandal and testing positive, we now have to question the legitimacy of all of her wins. And if I was one of the people that she beat, I would petition in for a “no-contest”, but that’s just me (hint-hint).  Cyborg did some great work, but what she ultimately did is set women’s MMA back about 4 years.


Well, she just literally killed the whole 145 division in Strikeforce. First, she cheated and ran everybody out of the division and then she killed the division because she got busted for steroids. Now there is no 145 pound division. If that doesn’t rank up there with one of the worst moments in women’s MMA, I’m not sure what does.

Whether she apologizes or not, she has done an irreparable amount of damage to the growth of the sport. Where are all of these 145 pound women supposed to go who are and were training at home for the chance of making it to Strikeforce (which for them is the pinnacle of their sporting opportunity)?

They have nowhere to go! This is horrible. And please understand that there are a couple of young women out there who just cannot make 135 pounds and now their opportunity for the big time is finished.

And when it comes to the legitimacy of the division, Cyborg was the measuring rod that was in place and was used, but she gave us a “false read.”

With that being said, we don’t really know how good Gina Carano is or how good any of her opponents were because the barometer for excellence, the champ, could have been possibly tainted.

So with that being said, the question is, how good is women’s MMA? And is it really legit at this time?

Well, Zuffa and Strikeforce think it’s worth developing, but the UFC does not think it’s worth their time. And…. although I would like to see a female fight or two, I just cannot argue with D-Dub (Dana White) and the Fertitta brothers at this time.

They are correct. When they say the divisions are not deep enough, what they are essentially saying is the following: There are not enough quality, good and legitimate female fighters.

And they are correct in saying that.

Now we don’t have that problem in the sport of Judo and women’s wrestling no longer has that problem either.

And just like the men’s side of MMA welcomed Olympians and Olympic Medalists, it did so to provide the sport some legitimacy.

Say what you want to; having Olympians win and/or lose provides a high level of legitimacy to your event and your sport.  You can use their presence as a measuring rod for the level of difficulty or legitimacy of the sport.

Now for all the dummies who are reading this and saying, “Yeah, but it’s MMA and you get punched in the face.”

Here’s what I have to say to you, “Shut up already!”

You have zero clue what it is like to prepare for the Olympics. What it feels to be in international training camps with high level individuals and what it feels like to be in that four-year grind. It’s horrible.

I recently heard Miesha Tate in an interview question Ronda’s toughness and say that Ronda may respond differently once she’s been “tested”! Then I heard her compare her wrestling background to Ronda’s Judo background.

Three minutes after Miesha said that, I called my attorney to contemplate suing her because when I heard what she said in the interview with Ariel Helwani, I laughed so hard I fell out my chair and nearly hurt myself.

I love Miesha. She’s smart, she speaks well (as an African American I’ve been waiting to use that line on somebody else), and she’s an accomplished MMA fighter, but her Strikeforce belt when compared to Ronda Rousey’s Olympic Medal isn’t even conversationally on par in any discussion and I should slap myself here for writing it in the same sentence.

With that being said, yes, I know Judo is not MMA. We covered that already. What I’m saying is this…… Women’s MMA needs a barometer, a measuring stick of some sort and until, like on the men’s side, an elite level wrestler or a judo player can’t just come in and soley use their honed skill set to win a fight, women’s MMA will fight for legitimacy.

On the men’s side there have been professional boxers, kickboxers, Sambo World Champions, Olympians, Olympic Medalists, Olympic Champions and World Champion Black Belt BJJ players who have won and have lost in MMA competition which has provided enough varying levels of differentiation in terms of style to allow the viewer to say, “Yes, you may have won in XYZ sport, but that doesn’t mean you will win in MMA.”

We can legitimately make that statement on the men’s side.

Right now there are only two women who are mixed martial arts fighters who are also Olympic Medalists, who actually can create this type of legitimacy for the sport, no matter if they win or lose. And only one of them is doing the marketing necessary to really put women’s MMA on the map and that is Ronda Rousey.

Now understand this… Ronda Rousey will steamroll over Miesha Tate. And if that is not the case I will eat my words and I will publicly submit an apology to Miesha Tate.  Miesha has never seen the likes of a woman such as Ronda Rousey.

It’s impossible for her to find somebody with such a judo background. The clinch work against a judo player is 100% different than when fighting or sparring with a wrestler, and if you don’t have anyone to teach you this, you will go down no matter what you think.

I’m sure we all remember when Diego Sanchez thought Karo Parisyan wasn’t going to throw him too.

Look, here are the facts:

  1. Women’s MMA needs Ronda Rousey.
  2. Currently the pool of women in MMA is smaller than that of Judo and Wrestling and the elite women in MMA don’t compare to the elite women in the aforementioned sports at this time (just as during the growth stages of men’s MMA they didn’t compare either). If you don’t believe me, grab the top 25 elite female MMA practitioners and do anaerobic tests, VO2Max tests, strength testing and anthropometric testing (to categorize what a top level elite athlete looks like on average) right now today and the numbers will pale in comparison. And that’s because there is no comparison at this time.
  3. No matter if Ronda wins or loses (and I’m of the opinion that she will win), it will be awesome for women’s MMA. It will provide Miesha Tate and women’s MMA with some legitimacy and validity due to Ronda’s massive competition record and the fact that she could still be doing judo unlike most people who come over the MMA after their Olympic careers or pursuits are over.
  4. The sport can always use another “pretty” face and whether you like it or not, Ronda Rousey is attractive and easy on the eyes.
  5. If women’s MMA cannot command good, sustained “free TV” numbers, there’s no way they are going to get on pay-per-view and that pay-per-view money would be and will be absolutely fantastic for the growth of women’s MMA.

As much as Sarah Kaufman and Miesha Tate don’t want to admit it, Ronda Rousey is actually doing you all a favor. She has no fear, she’s not scared, she’s been through wars that you all could not even imagine and she’s willing to put her legacy (and she does have one in Judo) on the line to help grow the sport while enjoying and making herself some money at the same time.

You should be thankful that Ronda came along because Cyborg sure didn’t do you any favors.

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  • I wrote a blog on almost the identical topic not ten minutes before I read this http://drannmaria.blogspot.com/2012/01/why-anyone-who-thinks-ronda-doesnt.html

  • Mikey

    Very well written for an African American. Just poking :P… I loved it and totally agree.

  • Dr. Rhadi Ferguson

    LOL!!! Bro. you don’t know how long I’ve been dying to use that phrase on somebody white. LOL. I’ve had it said to me so many times. that and how “athletic” I am. But thanks for chiming in. Mike!

  • I agree with most of this…really doesn’t matter who wins between Rousy or Tate…but…

    “I’m sure we all remember when Diego Sanchez thought Karo Parisyan wasn’t going to throw him too.”

    Diego Sanchez won that fight….so….

  • Great article…

  • Agree

  • This is a very interesting article. Your thoughts on Cris Cyborg were spot on but your belief Ronda Rousey will streamroll Miesha Tate are wrong. I believe it will be a close fight for two rounds then Miesha will submit or GnP Ronda. When I watched highlights of Cindy Dandois’ (who also has a deep judo background) win over Marloes Coenen, I was impressed with her throws. Later, I watched the entire fight video and realized Marloes Coenen was the clear winner in that fight. She dominated Dandois but was robbed by the judges with an inexplicable unanimous decision. Miesha Tate submitted Coenen who (IMO) exposed the flaws and weaknesses of a top judoka, Dandois. I’ll return in March to place a friendly bet with you.

  • Dr. Rhadi Ferguson

    Chuck, a “deep judo background” against someone like Ronda will get you beat in 2 minutes in Judo. I don’t think you can REALLY fathom the difference in Ronda’s judo and someone with a “deep judo background.” The difference is in light years. And I will take that friendly gentlemen’s bet if no one is injured in March.

  • Dr. Rhadi Ferguson

    Diego lost that fight and was given the decision.

  • Nope..Karo won the first round…Sanchez won the last two rounds..landing double the amount of significant strikes and reversing Karo quite a few times

  • Nope..Karo won the first round…Sanchez won the last two rounds..landing double the amount of significant strikes and reversing Karo quite a few times

  • Dr. Rhadi Ferguson

    I had Karo winning the 2nd. But you and I have a good time disagreeing, we can’t stop now. LOL. However, Meisha will definitely have her hands full. I just want to see how Ronda handles rounds 3 thru 5.

  • Loved it! — we might need two Judo champ Dr.’s on staff!

  • :) it should be good…hope it is anyway….still a lot of unanswered questions about Ronda..so maybe we’ll get some answers in March.

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  • BrassMonkE

    Rhadi, this is why people keep underestimating Ronda. They really don’t understand her level of judo. There are many dan level judoka throughout the world that would get creamed by Ronda. March 3rd will be fun.

  • Dr. Rhadi Ferguson

    I AGREE.

  • edub

    I don’t usually do this (comment negatively on somebody else’s work), but that article was laughable. This is not meant to troll you either. If you would like to know why I say this just ask, but I think it’s pretty sad when a person with the “Dr.” in front of their name can be confused with a petty poster on Sher***.

  • edub

    Well, you’re in the minority and shouldn’t be judging fights if you thought Karo won.

    It was clear Diego Sanchez gutted out the last round and took the decision.

  • SchenkMMA

    Very interesting post and a very interesting view. Thanks for your willingness to put your thoughts out there.

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  • Judoknowme

    The point was that Diego thoguht he couldn’t be thrown and he was. BIG time. KAro lost because he had sub par conditioning. run of the mill MMA fans just can’t or won’t understand the amount of training for conditioning and cardio that goes into preparing for the Olympics. MMA fighters train months on end for a fight….ok that’s good and all, but Olympians train YEARS for MULTIPLE fights on the same day. Karo was good but is nowhere near the Olympic level. Ronda has been there done that. She’d be training for the next Olympics if she wanted to. Still, even though she’s not returning, she has not and will not lose her Olympic work/training method. Just because Rousey hasn’t gone 5 rounds doesn’t mean she couldn’t. Her Judo has just trained her to be aggressive and not give the edge to an opponent. There is a reason why Olympians are considered the elite of the world. Miesha is a great fighter, don’t get me wrong. She’s been great matched with other typical WMMA fighters. Against Ronda however….She doesn’t stand a chance. Rousey by armbar in the 2nd round.

  • Dr. Rhadi Ferguson

    Clearly I’m not judging fights :-) I’m writing MMA Op-Ed articles. LOL

  • The point I was making is that Karo did nothing after he threw Diego and wasn’t able to capatilize on the throws…so basically the throws were useless although they were nice to look at…as I mentioned earlier..I have no dog in this fight unlike some in the comments section…could care less who wins…Rousey has a lot of questions that need answers as I’ve already said…and this fight will hopefully allow those questions to be answered…that is all.

  • Mike Menninger

    I like Ronda… she’s good looking, she’s charismatic, and she’s an accomplished competitor. I think she’s good for the sport.

    But the article makes a large assumption… that women’s MMA can ever be “legitimized.” MMA, for all intents and purposes, is a fringe sport, marketed almost exclusively to men. The WNBA has been around for a decade and a half, and it’s financial loser, sucking on the teat of David Stern and the NBA. If the the WNBA can’t get legitimized, I just don’t see it happening with women’s MMA.

    We (the fellas) might pay to see Gina or Meisha or Ronda because they’re attractive girls. I appreciate quality MMA… so I’m speaking from a general perspective, not necessarily mine. Their fighting prowess is a secondary concern for most viewers, in my opinion. If Cyborg had not defeated (or perhaps even faced) Carano, I’m not so sure we would collectively care about her steroid scandal as much as we do. There will just never be enough hype for women’s MMA unless we have a pretty face at its forefront.

    That being said, I hope I’m wrong. This was a good article, by the way, so long as the assumption is true.

  • Mike Menninger

    Quick correction… this IS a good article. I’m just not sure I agree with the assumption.

  • edub

    “run of the mill MMA fans just can’t or won’t understand the amount of training for conditioning and cardio that goes into preparing for the Olympics.”

    -If you don’t know the game well, don’t make assumptions. Pretty much every top tier mixed martial artist trains year round and has for multiple years (GSP, Anderson, Jones, etc..). So that comment is both illogical and untrue.

    “MMA fighters train months on end for a fight….ok that’s good and all, but Olympians train YEARS for MULTIPLE fights on the same day.”

    Stop calling judo matches fights (to all that have done that). The fact is they are not “fights”. The same way a wrestling match is not a fight. The same way a BJJ match is not a fight. The same way me kicking in doors in Iraq multiple times a day, isn’t a fight.

    “Just because Rousey hasn’t gone 5 rounds doesn’t mean she couldn’t. Her Judo has just trained her to be aggressive and not give the edge to an opponent.”

    -Top tier Olympians have gassed in MMA matches. Kevin Jackson, Mark Coleman, Dan Henderson and Hidehiko Yoshida are examples of this. Again, let me state the obvious: A Judo match or a wrestling match is not a MMA match. The fact that she hasn’t gone past the 2nd minute of the first round ever, means we simply don’t know what she will be if pushed that far (let alone 5 rounds).

    I agree in that I think Ronda will win. She’s special, and I believe that is apparent to any fan. But if she wins it will be in the first. If it goes past that she could be in real trouble, as the pace she sets hasn’t been beyond the first. It’s quite possible that the adrenaline jump could kill her cardio.

  • edub

    I just meant in general.

  • Dr. Rhadi Ferguson

    I wrote a post to respond to this but deleted it. You don’t have a quality grasp on reality and that’s okay. Your perspective and scope is limited and myopic and therefore you can only see what you can see and since the eyes can only see what the brain can comprehend, you will not be able to see things from my perspective and I just don’t have the energy to explain…. unfortunately.

  • edub

    The problem is you said nothing here (which is understandable because any argument you make would be refuted quite easily).

    You can use filler like a short thought about how I’m “myopic” or that I can’t see things from your perspective (which should be obvious, since I’m not you). But it fails to land because in the end it’s just a cop out. You say one second that you wrote a post to respond then deleted; then go on to say that “you just don’t have the energy to explain”. You had the energy to retort effectively, but deleted it in favor of an explanation about my brain power? Does that really make sense?

    Personally, I think it’s a lot more likely that you read what you had put down and realized it was more of an emotional response that lacked substance. Then decided not to get into a debate because pretty much everything I put down was accurate, and arguing against correct information is never easy (whatever your opinion is).

  • Sayno2wmma

    People are forgetting what mma was in the beginning it was mixed you had judo vs boxing, kung-fu vs wrestling and each did what he did best. Ever hear of Royce Gracie? He won the first 2 you didn’t see him slug it out with a kickboxer he took him down and beat him. I think I read were he threw like 5 punch’s the whole tournament.But now people think mixed means you punch then kick a liltle then wrestle the object is to win.I miss the old mma.

  • JudoRudy

    I disagree with all of your points, but I respect your right to an opinion :)

  • Dr. Rhadi,

    Although commendable, Ronda Rousey’s Olympic Bronze Medal is not what you and most Rousey fans believe. Rousey did not make it to the finals at the 2008 Olympics, she didn’t even make the semi-finals in her weight division. Ronda lost in the quarter-finals! Look it up. It’s a fact. In any other competition Rousey would have been finished, an also ran, perhaps a footnote.

    In Olympic judo, through repechage, some losers get a second chance to compete. But, if the Gold, Silver and Bronze have already been decided, what do the losers’ bracket fighters compete for? They fight to win 4th place! Ronda came in 4th place. It’s an oddity but Olympic judo actually awards two bronze medals, one for 3rd, the other for 4th.

    You may dismiss Cindy Dandois’ judo skills but I know she is a top level international judoka. Her judo talent is not ‘light years’ away from 4th place Ribbon (Medal) Rousey. However, it took Yana Kunitskaya all of 34 seconds to knock out Cindy in their MMA fight last year.

  • edub

    Same to you fine sir.

  • Dr. Rhadi Ferguson

    YOU ALL CAN APOLOGIZE AT ANY TIME….. I’LL WAIT!! THAT WAS WHAT YOU CALL “STEAM ROLLING”. And just as I said, Ronda steam rolled over Miesha. I will take apology posts, apology emails, basic “I was wrong you were right” statements and flowers. But whatever the f*ck you do. Just MAN UP and apologize with the same frequency and fervor that you refuted and rebutted what I wrote. *** I’ll WAIT! **** :-)

  • I love it.

  • thoughts now?

  • I have returned to eat my words. As I try to swallow this crow I remind myself that other than the main event I went 5-0 in the other fights I bet (yes, I bet Sarah Kaufman for the win). I experienced a very successful night of betting.

    Kudos to Ronda Rousey. I appreciated her aggressiveness and tenacity.

    I remained baffled that Miesha Tate did not keep it standing but I have uber respect for Tate’s grit.

    Rousey displayed little class, grace or dignity after her impressive victory but she’s young so I’ll give her some slack.

    That fight did so much for Women’s MMA! I look forward to Rousey vs. Kauffman or Cyborg vs. Rousey.

    You guys were right, I was wrong.

  • Rhadi Ferguson

    Chuck YOU my friend are a real man! I would have done the same thing and have had to eat crow before. I appreciate you coming back and posting. But understand this… Ronda is “acting” when she is in the ring. There is a very real element of sensationalism and character crafting going on. Ronda, in wrestling terms, is a heel with a “babyface” but not a babyface.

  • Rhadi Ferguson

    No Chuck. Judo gives out 2 thirds because we don’t have a “true third place” so the final standings are 1,2, 3, 3, 5, 5, 7, 7
    there is no fourth place.

  • Thank you for agreeing with me that Ronda Rousey did not win a ‘true third place’ medal.

    Hopefully Sesame Street doesn’t ask her to appear with Count Von Count. Kids would be so confused. 1,2,3,3,5,5,7,7.

  • every one of the clueless haters of rousey ought to be required to read this essay! This girl is right on the money with her thoughts! Meisha tate should she can kiss ronda’s ass, because ronda is growing the sporet in a way that the likes of tate, cyroid, kaufman, coenben, et al would never have been able to!

    Just today, (9/30/2012), dana white said he wants ronda rousey in the ufc asap!

    She is changing the dynamic of all of mixed martial arts! And in the cage, there is nobody like her; now, nor has there ever been! Even when comparing her to two of the top 2-4 fighters in the world besides ronda, (tate and kaufman), they were completely out of their league fighting her!

    Ronda Rousey – best female fighter there has ever been!!!!!

    PS – if cyroid gets forced by the ufc or strikeforce to fight ronda, something roids is trying desperately to avoid), she won’t last past the 1st round with ronda, and, for good measure, ronda will probably literally break cyroid’s arm in the process. Ronda should have jon jones in her corner for that fight too, because when ronda does break cyroid’s arm, i could see fat boy ortiz jumping into the cage to try to attack ronda for breaking cyroids arm. Jon jones in her corner would prevent “fat boy” from doing something stupid like that!