Monday Morning Quarterbacking With Dr. Rhadi Ferguson – January 6th

rhadi ferguson interviewHappy New Year!

I was able to finally lock down Ronda Rousey’s 2004 Olympic Teammate and fellow Pro MMA Now Staff Writer Dr. Rhadi Ferguson to ask him some questions about Ronda Rousey and here’s what he had to say.

Jack Bratcher: Dr. Ferguson, what is your assessment of Ronda’s last fight with Miesha Tate?

Dr. Ferguson: I think the fight was an entertaining one. I think Ronda did a great job to sell something that wasn’t there. No disrespect to Miesha Tate or anything like that. She was a great champion and added much to the game of Mixed Martial Arts, but her level of wrestling is on par with an 8th grader or middle schooler. Comparing her MMA career or wrestling background with someone as internationally seasoned and tested and Ronda Rousey just is not fair to Miesha, let alone Ronda. And that is by no means an insult. It is a fair assessment. I mean, Miesha’s wrestling pedigree is almost non-existent.

In furtherance, Ronda looked somewhat sloppy in the fight. I mean, she fought with so much passion and disdain for what Miesha could possibly do to her that she fought with reckless abandon. Such a gameplan can only be invoked when you have a total lack of regard for your opponent’s ability to beat you. I mean, look, Ronda literally stomped a mud hole in Miesha’s chest twice. If there is something to be learned here it is in the understanding that Women’s MMA has a long way to go in order to reach the competitive levels which exist in Women’s Wrestling, Judo and boxing. The level of athlete is just different and I hope that Miesha now knows this.

I would have liked to see Ronda finish some of the sankaku (triangle choke) positions that she had Miesha caught in during the fight, but I’m pretty sure that she was focusing in on armbarring Miesha just to let her know that she can do whatever she wants to her, tell her what she’s going to do and do it anyway. That’s a level of ownership that I’m sure Ronda wanted to exercise in that particular relationship.

However, as a coach I did not like the fact that Ronda stood up and didn’t apply pressure from the top position. We’ve seen her stay on top when mount but not necessarily apply ground and pound from inside of the guard. However, we had not seen her use her right hand as effectively either and without being in the fight camp I cannot say with any degree of accuracy what the gameplan was, but I can assure you that it was most definitely to improve on her striking from the standing position. Which was evident.

From a professional coaching standpoint, and this is hard for me to say because I know Ronda personally and love her. But from a professional standpoint, she wasn’t really that sharp. Her body looked like she had just cut the weight to make the fight and she looked, honestly, like she filmed two movies, squeezed some training in and knew that — that was more than enough to beat Miesha. Now, I’m not saying that is what happened. That’s just how it looked. And that’s me being over critical because Ronda didn’t let her foot off the gas not one time during that foot stomping display that she gave Tate.

Jack Bratcher: How do you feel about the McMann/Rousey fight?

I think it is going to be a great fight. I’m glad that Ronda is getting back into the ring quickly. I believe it is good for her and more along the lines of what she’s been used to doing her whole life. If she’s not banged up or chipped up from the fight or the training, I’m sure she’ll fight with such regularity. The competition does not bother her at all and I’ve never seen her scared or shy away from a fight.

This fight is one that will challenge the strategic and tactical capabilities of both fighters and camps. McMann can most certainly win this fight by clinching Ronda against the cage and by taking her down and staying on top and then backing out when she feels endangered or threatened. She can play a takedown game and win. That is a very tiring game and requires two takedowns per round, usually, in order to pull off successfully. Daniel Cormier is an expert at such a strategy and Mo Lawal used it effectively to win the Strikeforce crown. But it is a very tiring game and requires a good knowledge of ground-and-pound tactics.

This is a very good fight and is one of the top fights to ever occur in Mixed Martial Arts history as many fights do not occur where one Olympian fights another. And to just add to that, both are Olympic Medalists. I do believe that this is the first time in UFC history where this will happen.

With that being said, from an Olympic History standpoint I think it’s huge. I also think that it will provide much interest in the core grappling skills of judo and wrestling.

Because our sports really could use the exposure and because we are both feeder sports, in a sense to MMA, I hope that the UFC brings in a couple of our Women Olympic Medalists from the sports of Judo, Wrestling, Tae Kwon Do and Boxing and puts them in the arena. And just for kicks it would be nice to see Laila Ali in the front row. Because, lets be honest, it’s always nice to see Laila Ali! I think that would be so awesome and really show the fantastic link and familial bond among the sports. And how all of these sports and persons have brought Women’s MMA to where it is now. Believe it or not, Laila Ali was the first women’s combat sports person to make fighting sexy. Before Ronda and Miesha, there was Laila Ali. But to get back on topic….

This is a huge fight for MMA and for the sports of Judo and Wrestling. I cannot understate this and nor overstate it. And that is how I feel about it.

Jack Bratcher: I guess I need to be more direct Doc? Who do you think will win?

Dr. Ferguson: Oh, Ronda, with reservation. And that reservation exists because I have seen the power in which McMann throws her right hand. I have not seen her really connect with it in a fight, but the speed and power with which she throws it tells me that she has KO potential. I think this fight is difficult to assess due to the ever evolving games of each of these athletes. Watching them is like watching Jon Jones. He’s the champion but he’s still learning MMA and every time you see him, it’s like you are watching a different Jon Jones. This is how it is with these two women. Personally, I’m not sure how much Sara has changed since her last outing but to assume that she hasn’t would be like Miesha assuming that Ronda’s boxing skills were going to be the same as when they met the first time. Big mistake.

However, even with all of the progress that is possible, I really do not see an area in this fight where McMann can dominate Ronda solidly for 25 minutes. And she only has to dominate her for 15 minutes to be honest with you if it goes to the scorecards, but I’m not sure that McMann is going to be able to stop the vicious onslaught and hunt for her arms. Can she take Ronda down? Yes, I’m sure of it, but then what happens? I think her strength, unfortunately places her inside of Ronda’s. But she’s a competitor and tough one at that. And I have been a Sara McMann fan for a long time. I’m a huge Sara McMann fan. But let’s be honest. No one loses in this fight except for Cat Zingano. This fight has rematch written all over it and it hasn’t even begun yet. I kind of feel bad for Cat Zingano because she was supposed to fight Ronda next but got hurt and now is not even in the discussion.

Jack Bratcher: Doc, I know you know both Dan Cormier and Rashad Evans very well and have actually trained and trained with Rashad Evans. Who do you think has the edge in that fight?

Dr. Ferguson: Can we dig into that topic next Monday? Because that is going to be a long discussion and I’m going to need to choose my words very carefully.

Jack Bratcher: Okay, Doc. Next Monday for sure.

Dr. Ferguson: Next Monday it is Brother Jack!