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Dr. Rhadi Ferguson on Ronda Rousey’s defeat of Miesha Tate and what is next for the champ

Ronda Rousey becomes the new Strikeforce women's bantamweight champ after submitting Miesha Tate in the first round. Photo by Brian Furby for ProMMAnow.com

First and foremost I would like to provide a huge amount of respect, adoration and applause to Miesha Tate. I’ve met Miesha before when I was fighting for Strikeforce and we’ve even communicated on Twitter a couple of times and I’ve always found her to be nice, respectful and worthy of being called “Champ”.

She’s an amazing individual and competitor. She simply lost on Saturday and as Matt Hughes said a couple of years ago, “If you keep competing, sooner or later, you will get beat.”

Miesha had her time, she’ll hopefully have her time again, but right now it is Ronda Rousey‘s time.

Although it is difficult for me to do, my job as a sports writer is to critique Ronda’s fight. I know Ronda personally so I have to be super careful during my critique to only critique the fight and nothing else because there’s so much more that I know from being able to speak with her mother, coaches, manager, etc.

So, I have crafted my words very carefully here, but am also writing as a sports writer, not as Ronda’s friend, which is extremely difficult because I love her and respect her so much.

But here it is…

Post-fight analysis of “Rousey vs. Tate”

With an extensive Judo and grappling background I definitely gave Ronda the edge over Tate in this fight. My initial comments on this fight were that Ronda Rousey would “steam roll” over Tate. Many disagreed, but so many individuals are not aware of the major difference between Mixed Martial Arts and high level specialty sports (i.e. Boxing, Judo, BJJ, Wrestling, Tae Kwon Do, Muay Thai, etc.).

There was a time on the men’s side of the sport where you could be one-dimensional and win (i.e. Royce Gracie with BJJ and Coleman and Randleman with ground-and-pound), but now such is not the case.

However, the women’s side of the sport is still growing. It has not had the introduction of the Olympians and world class athletes in as great a number as the men’s side to increase the level. Olympic Medalists like Ronda Rousey and Sara McMann and many other elite athletes who are still young enough to compete in their sport but have chosen to do MMA are entering the sport now on the women’s side and raising the level.

Case in point, just by being in the pool of 135-pounders, Ronda is causing her rivals to think of ways to beat her. This increases the game because now they are dealing with an element of expertise which they have not seen or had to deal with. This is good for the growth of the sport.

Now, onto the fight.

It was certainly no secret what Ronda’s gameplan was. The question was, is and will be… who will be able to stop her and for how long will they be able to hold her off. In the course of a 25 minute match I don’t think that there is any 135-pounder alive that is currently doing MMA that will stop Ronda from armbarring them in the course of 25 minutes.

Now with that being said, everyday that goes by, Ronda’s opponents are improving and figuring out a way to beat her and she’s figuring out a way to capitalize off of her stardom, fame and continuing, quite honestly, to learn MMA.

Tate’s job, ultimately, was tougher than Ronda’s. That’s just a fact. When you are the champ, you have to do more PR work, more interviews, more speaking engagements, more charity work, more of everything… and you have to train and prepare for the best.

The problem is, by definition, you are the best, so it’s very difficult to “get up” and “enthused” for the person trying to take your title. This is where Tate was mentally. In her mind she actually believed that Ronda did not “earn” the opportunity and she bought into the MMA hype like most of you who are reading this article have.

MMA is hard… it most certainly is, but it is much harder to win an Olympic Gold Medal (or medal in general at the games) in Greco or Freestyle Wrestling or Judo than it is to win any MMA title. And that’s a statistics discussion not a “who is tougher” or “which one is harder” discussion. Just trust me… I’m a doctor. LOL.

To continue, Miesha just believed that her time in MMA would provide an element or issue that Ronda had not seen before. What she didn’t understand is that Ronda has fought more times over than Miesha could hope to.

This is Ronda’s competition record in high level sport:

——- Date / Result / Event / Comp. / Category ——-

  • 01-May-2010 1 US National Championships Myrtle Beach NC U70
  • 13-Aug-2008 3 Olympic Games Beijing OG U70
  • 13-Jun-2008 1 US Olympic Trials NT U70
  • 08-May-2008 5 Pan American Championships Miami PanCH U70
  • 11-Apr-2008 1 US National Championships Virginia Beach NC U70
  • 17-Feb-2008 1 World Cup Budapest WCup U70
  • 03-Feb-2008 3 Belgian Ladies Open Arlon IT U70
  • 08-Dec-2007 2 Jigoro Kano Cup Tokyo IT U70
  • 10-Nov-2007 1 Finnish Open Vantaa IT U70
  • 30-Oct-2007 1 Rendez-Vous Canada Montreal IT U70
  • 19-Oct-2007 1 US Open Duluth IT U70
  • 14-Sep-2007 2 World Championships Rio de Janeiro WCh U70
  • 12-Aug-2007 3 German Open Braunschweig IT U70
  • 20-Jul-2007 1 Pan American Games Rio de Janeiro Panam U70
  • 25-May-2007 3 Pan American Championships Montreal PanCH U70
  • 21-Apr-2007 1 US National Championships Miami NC U70
  • 18-Feb-2007 1 World Cup Vienna WCup U70
  • 27-Jan-2007 1 British Open London IT U63
  • 12-Nov-2006 3 Finnish Open Vantaa IT U63
  • 05-Nov-2006 1 Swedish Open Borås IT U63
  • 20-Oct-2006 1 US Open Miami IT U63
  • 13-Oct-2006 3 World Junior Championships U20 Santo Domingo WJC U63
  • 22-Sep-2006 1 Rendez-Vous Canada Montreal IT U63
  • 02-Sep-2006 1 USA Fall Classic Harlingen IT U63
  • 30-Jul-2006 1 Junior US Open Fort Lauderdale U20 IT20 U63
  • 25-May-2006 2 Pan American Championships Buenos Aires PanCH U63
  • 22-Apr-2006 1 US National Championships Houston NC U63
  • 01-Apr-2006 1 World Cup Birmingham WCup U63
  • 05-Feb-2006 1 Belgian Ladies Open Arlon IT U63
  • 27-Nov-2005 1 Ontario Open Toronto IT U63
  • 01-Oct-2005 1 US Open Fort Lauderdale IT U63
  • 25-Sep-2005 1 Rendez-Vous Canada Montreal IT U63
  • 07-Aug-2005 2 Junior US Open Fort Lauderdale U20 IT20 U63
  • 21-May-2005 1 Pan American Championships Caguas (PUR) PanCH U63
  • 22-Apr-2005 1 US National Championships Virginia Beach NC U63
  • 13-Feb-2005 5 World Cup Leonding WCup U63
  • 28-Nov-2004 1 Ontario Open Toronto IT U63
  • 27-Nov-2004 1 Ontario Open Toronto U20 IT20 U63
  • 16-Oct-2004 1 World Junior Championships U20 Budapest WJC U63
  • 26-Sep-2004 3 US Open Las Vegas IT U63
  • 18-Sep-2004 3 Rendez-Vous Canada Montreal IT U63
  • 05-Jun-2004 1 US Olympic Trials NT U63
  • 30-Apr-2004 1 US National Championships San Diego NC U63
  • 24-Apr-2004 1 Pan American Championships Isla Margarita PanCH U63
  • 19-Oct-2003 1 Rendez-Vous Canada Montreal IT U63
  • 11-Oct-2003 2 US Open Las Vegas IT U63
  • 31-Aug-2003 1 USA Fall Classic Indianapolis IT U63
  • 04-Aug-2002 1 Junior US Open Boca Raton U20 IT20 U57
  • 21-Aug-2001 1 Coupe Canada Cup IT U57

And that’s not including the training camps, local area matches and trips to Europe or Japan.

Miesha also isn’t aware that Ronda has had extensive media training from having been to two Olympic Games.  She is a lot more media savvy than Miesha was aware of and she understands how to prepare for high level competition.

Please trust me when I tell you that walking out to the cage is not as stressful as walking on to the mat at the Olympics. It’s different. It’s not easy. But it’s not as stressful.

Ronda has a system of what to do after weigh-ins, before the fight, after the fight and everything in between and she’s practiced it more than Tate and has done it more than Tate and when the fight began on Saturday, I was well aware of this, as was Miesha.

When the fight began, Ronda came in to close the distance. Much to my surprise, instead of Miesha back pedaling and trying to take the fight into deeper waters, she chose to engage. She threw some nice shots and then clinched, was taken down, escaped a submission, took Ronda’s back, stood back up, clinched again, was taken down and then got submitted.

Now here is where the problem lies…

If Kyra Gracie, Penny Thomas, Nyjah Easton, Leticia Ribiero take Ronda Rousey’s back, the outcome of that match may be slightly different. Maybe not, but as someone who is doing a post-fight analysis I have to mention that Tate did not implement a series or iterations of moves to choke Ronda nor did she make an attempt to transfer to an armbar.

This could be a problem for Ronda in the future as her Judo background has put her in the position of being the aggressor and she has very rarely had someone attacking her with reckless abandon in a competition setting. But once again, who can actually put Ronda in a bad position and keep her there? At this time — no one.

The bottom line with this fight is this. Miesha was outclassed. Ronda made several mistakes such as keeping her chin high, getting her back taken and keeping her face too close to Miesha’s legs and being at risk for getting hit with an up-kick when Miesha was on the ground. But, the question still stands, who can actually capitalize off of Rousey’s mistakes? At this time — no one.

Sarah Kaufman, her possible new opponent, has one chance and one chance only. And that chance is a puncher’s chance. Unfortunately, most women MMA fighters don’t pack enough power to KO another woman out cold with a “one hitta-quitta”.

I mean, Sarah Kaufman absolutely peppered the hell out of Alexis Davis‘ face to the point where both of Alexis’ eyes where closed, but she didn’t wobble her and didn’t put her out.

Best case scenario is that she can beat Ronda up like this and… at the end of the day, she will still get submitted.

I’m not sure that any woman in the division can learn takedown defense, excuse me, judo takedown defense, which is very different from wrestling, in enough time to stop Ronda.

There is one coach out there that knows how to stop judo throws and has actually coached someone against Karo Parisyan and that athlete did not get thrown. Thiago Alves never got thrown by Karo, but it was five weeks of steadfast work and position work to stop all of Karo’s moves.

Thiago’s coach that instructed him for that fight was one bad dude and very intelligent on how to stop Karo’s hips. His judo coach for that fight… yours truly, Dr. Rhadi Ferguson.

And I’m telling you right now that if you haven’t done judo or have a deep judo background and understand the clinch game, you will not be able to stop Ronda’s takedowns. You are going to have to hope that you are better than she is on the ground. And Tate was not and neither is Kaufman.

What is Next?

I’m really not sure who can hang with Ronda, but one woman does come to mind…

Kyra Gracie!

Now understand this, there are very few fights that make sense for Ronda. I can see her fighting Kaufman, Tate once again, Carano for a good payday and Kyra Gracie for the “grappling” fight of the century (but they can actually do a grappling match and make damn near the same amount of money without getting punched in the face and then fight an MMA match for a secondary payday) and Sara McMann.

Fighting Cyborg just doesn’t make sense. If I’m Ronda and her team, I take a little bit more time before lining up against Marloes Coenen too, but understand this, that fight will be her toughest test without a doubt. And that is the fight that I would take before fighting Cris Cyborg if fighting Cyborg was in the cards.

With all that being said, I am still a huge Miesha Tate fan. And I am a huge Ronda Rousey fan and just love her to pieces and glad that she’s getting her 10 minutes of fame. But, she knows as we all do, that the clock is ticking.

Tick… tick… tick…

When it’s all said and done though, if Ronda is fighting, I’m putting my money on Ronda! Period!

  • Johnny

    “Fighting Cyborg just doesn’t make sense”

    Sure it doesn’t.. Anyone can go without losing when they cherry pick their opponents. Cut weight to fight Tate, then outweigh Tate by 10 pounds come fight time. Cyborg and Megumi Fuji are the best in MMA. Cyborg would hurt Rousey; today, tomorrow, or a year from now.

  • Rhad Ferguson

    Hey, hey, hey!!!!

    1. Cutting weight is a science.
    2. Cyborg tested positive for roids so at this time its a non-issue.
    3. Cherry-picking opponents is WHAT EVERYBODY does. Nobody fights someone who is not a good matchup unless they 100% have too and then its for the right $$$.
    4. It’s a business Johnny and right now that’s a bad business decision. You get the title to leverage it and make money. Not to make bad “fan type” decisions.
    5. It’s a business.
    6. It’s a business.
    7. It’s a business.

    And I AGREE with you. Cyborg would HURT Ronda. Especially now. If Ronda comes in with her chin high up like that against Cyborg, she will wake up on Thursday of the following week. But that is now. Not sure about months from now. Ronda may improve. Who knows.

  • lions1980

    “I’m not sure that any woman in the division can learn takedown defense, excuse me, judo takedown defense, which is very different from wrestling, in enough time to stop Ronda.”

    Are you really sure? See Tate or Sara McMann vs japanese judoka Hitomi Akano. Akano was slammed by Sara McMann and taked down easly. Tate taked down three time the japanese judoka. The big difference is that Ronda is a world class athlete and in women martial arts judo is an high level sport since 1992. Olympic Woman Freestyle Wrestling started in 2004 and Tate wrestled only in collegiate wrestling.

    “judo takedown defense, which is very different from wrestling, in enough time to stop Ronda.”

    Wrestling? Collegiate Wrestling! Ronada threw Tate with a head and arm, which is also very much used in Freestyle and Greco Roman Wrestling. It’s a basic technique in olympic styles.
    Freestyle Wrestling is very different. In freestyle you can apply high amplitude throws and you can slam your opponent. In folkstyle you can’t!
    Freestyle is a dynamic and upper body oriented with a lot of clinch game and throws. Pure folkstyle wrestlers are in big trouble during clinch game.
    The russian freestyle wrestling is perfect for MMA : clinch game, throws, sweeps and good single/double.
    Two weeks ago Joseph Benavidez taking down (two time) japanese judo player Yasuhiro Urushitani, Chad Mendes taking down 4 time the japan silver medalist in judo asian championships Michihiro Omigawa. Urushitani and Omigawa scored 0 takedowns.
    Russian Freestyle Wrestling is supreme, they’ve spent years working out how to transfer traditional wrestling styles, judo and sambo to mix with Freestyle and Greco for a jacketless environment.

    Olympic Wrestling and collegiate wrestling are two different combat sport. UFC champion like Jon Jones, Dominick Cruz, Benavidez, Ben Henderson, Frank Edgar etc have freestyle and/or greco wrestling background. Not only folk american and this is very different.

  • Michael P.

    Hi Rhadi.

    Great article and very astute assessments. You have a very impressive viewpoint which is always balanced and fact based.

    I think Ronda put on one of the greatest WMMA performances ever, the sky’s the limit for her. I think she’ll be a star.

    I hope that you’ll speak to Ronda and make your criticisms known when she begins training again soon, since it might help to have somebody outside her “inner circle” giving her honest critiques on how to improve and avoid bad situations in fights.

    I was a bit surprised to see Ronda ‘misjudging distance’ when standing up with Miesha Tate, since during the final exchange (i.e. right before the hip toss) Ronda seemed to purposely walk forward until she was within Tate’s punching range with her hands low (acting almost as though she wasn’t ‘aware’ that she was already standing within striking range of Miesha’s hooks).

    She just walked right up to Miesha, stood within range of her hooks, and seemed to not realize the danger in doing that. I’m speechless on that one. LOL.

    Perhaps she and her coaches will study the tape of this fight and greatly change their striking/sparring sessions, but it can’t hurt for you to send your own constructive criticism to her coaches when she begins training again……just to be sure that she really gets the message.

    Another thing which puzzles me is that her stand-up gameplan seemed to have no logical purpose (i.e. even if her stand-up strategy was successful she wouldn’t have received any advantages).

    For example, women in the bantamweight division don’t really have the power to knockout an opponent on the feet, thus it seems foolish for Ronda to even WANT to stand toe-to-toe so close to an opponent when there’s no benefit to such a tactic (i.e. Ronda won’t likely knockout her opponent even if she lands a flush punch so why risk standing within range of your opponents hooks?)

    I was impressed with her calmness in the stand up game though, since even when she was hit flush (to the face) she calmly backed up, reset, then came forward punching or looking for the clinch takedown. She obviously backed up in a straight line and shouldn’t have done that, but she maintained good composure and didn’t panic like Brock Lesnar does. So I was impressed with that aspect of her mental stand up game, she wasn’t scared to throw down or take a punch.

    I hope that she listens to your advice before her next fight since I’d love to see her develop into a more complete fighter. The sky’s the limit for Ronda but she needs somebody to be honest with her about the mistakes she’s making.

    Please show the courage to do that, I’m sure she’ll be thankful rather than offended.

  • http://twitter.com/MMAMeg Meg M. May

    I literally wrote THIS very analysis and article 2 weeks ago.
    Meg M. May
    fightwire.net

  • Rhadi Ferguson

    One thing that I’ve had to learn over the years is “respectful intervention.” Ronda and her camp are aware of me. Ronda and her mom know what I know, but i am not an advisor for her or a consultant nor have I been asked to work in such a capacity. I’m just a “friend of the family” and I’m cool with that.

  • edub

    Ah. I had thought you were a part of her inner circle. I guess my question on her interview article makes no sense to you. My apologies.

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  • http://twitter.com/DrAnnMaria DrAnnMaria

    Hey, friend of the family is about as inner circle as you can get!

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