[UFC 207 Spoilers]
The fight on December 30 between Ronda Rousey and Amanda Nunes did not go the way I expected. I always knew it was a possibility given Ronda’s history of partnering with poor trainers and her fragile mental state after her last lost. But she exceeded my expectations in the wrong direction. Since the fight was only 48 seconds long, there won’t be much technical analysis here, but I’ll expand further on my thoughts about the past of Rousey and the future of Nunes.
Rousey’s mother, AnnMaria De Mars, published a supportive blog post following her daughter’s second devastating loss. She lists some of Rousey’s past accomplishments and reaffirms her support for her daughter despite acknowledging some of her poor decision-making.
Considering Rousey’s poor footwork in the past and her recently seen failure to make any progress in this area, her number one poor decision is apparently staying at Glendale Fighting Club and training her MMA game under head coach Edmond Tarverdyan. Edmond is widely known for his identity fraud and sketchy bankruptcy filings. But more importantly, he seems to completely fail as a primary and striking coach.
Here’s Ronda’s corner audio with Edmond at UFC 207:
(If this gets taken down due to copyright, just Google “Ronda Corner Audio.”)
Edmond: Head Movement!
Ronda: You apparently never taught me that.
Ronda’s lack of head movement, lack of a defensive jab, and complete failure to prepare for an opponent who has plenty of footage on her and not a particularly dynamic game can only be the product of poor coaching. (Edmond’s “Nooooo!” was also the anguish of his career ending.) Ronda’s boyfriend, Travis Browne, and the only other prominent MMA fighter training under Tarverdyan is 1-3 in his last UFC outings. Ronda’s shadow-boxing is legendarily bad and Tarverdyan’s “Beautiful work, champ!” after round 1 of the Holm fight has been a long-standing meme.
Ronda trained a couple times with the Diaz brothers’ striking coach Richard Perez and this is what he said:
“You know to be honest with you, I don’t know how she is being trained over there [at Glendale Fighting Club]. I know I trained her for a couple fights before and she did really good,” Perez recalled. “I mean I trained her really hard, she loved it. She said she never had anybody train her like I did. You know, I don’t know what they do over there so I can’t give an answer on how it’s gonna come out.”
Nobody ever trained her like Richard Perez did. Being the elite of the elite, I’m sure Ronda could choose to train at any place she wanted. Even if she didn’t want to leave California, Rafael Cordeiro over at Kings MMA (trainer of former champs RDA, Machida, and Werdum) extended an invitation for her to train with them. At this point, anything seems better than Edmond “Beautiful work, champ!” Tarverdyan. Ronda’s mom said she got Ronda good at Judo as a child by having her train everywhere. But now, as an adult, Ronda seems to content to live in the echo chamber of self-congratulatory nonsense and babying that only Edmond provides.
I still feel like Ronda could have won on the ground if she had the opportunity to clinch. As pointed out in my last blog post, Nunes still has significant holes in her ground game. Nunes also did not adopt Holly Holm’s style like I thought she might. She came out orthodox and swinging her power right hand as per usual. But simply being Amanda Nunes was enough. There were a bunch of blocks, parrys, and counters available to Ronda at the distance Nunes was throwing, but her lack of knowledge was profound and fatal in the fighting sense of the word.
Rousey is still one of my favorite fighters. Her wins over Meisha Tate, Alexis Davis, and Cat Zingano were some of the most exciting seconds in her career. But she does not have a championship mindset anymore. Conor McGregor, by contrast, has a championship mindset. When he lost to Nate Diaz in an embarrassing fashion, he took half a year and a break from media to tighten his holes, gameplan for his opponent, and rededicate himself wholly. Ronda Rousey took twice as long off after her embarrassing loss and did none of those.
Unless she switches gyms and completely revolutionizes her striking game, Ronda’s time in MMA is over. The future of the bantamweight division is Amanda Nunes and there’s a couple of interesting matchups for her in the rising stars. She’s beaten most of the top 10 already, but there’s a couple women left that could give her some trouble if the fight goes all five rounds.
The first is Raquel Pennington. At #5, Pennington has some solid hands and good takedown defense, only losing recently by split decision to Holly Holm. She is sturdy and consistent and I imagine could be a durable test for Nunes if she makes it into the later rounds.
The second is #3 Julianna Peña. She is the dark horse in the division right now and became the TUF champion by exceeding everyone’s expectations. She is well-rounded and has probably just as powerful as Nunes, if not just as accurate, striking. If she wins her fight on January 28 against #2 Valentina Schevchenko, she will no doubt be next in line for a title shot.
These are the women who will carry the bantamweight division now that Ronda is no more. Ronda will always be remembered as a trailblazer and the top paid women’s MMA fighter. She has contributed more to the sport than almost anyone and deserves to be recognized for her accomplishments. Like Ronda’s mom, whatever bad decisions she’s made about her training, I’ll always support her. I hope she has a bright future maybe teaching or doing seminars and I will always remember her as “Rowdy” Ronda Rousey.
On December 30, Ronda Rousey will make her first return to the Octagon since her devastating loss last November to Holly Holm. She is fighting the current champion, right-hand powerhouse Amanda Nunes. Now a lot of people are questioning whether Ronda still has it and whether or not she can handle the power and proficient grappling of Amanda Nunes.
Have no doubt, Amanda is a beast and a strong starter. She has very heavy hands and is definitely capable of a knockout. But I believe Ronda will win, probably by her classic armbar technique, and the main reason I believe this is because Amanda Nunes is not Holly Holm.
Holly Holm is a Southpaw, has excellent lateral movement, clean jabs, and has devastating headkicks. Amanda Nunes mostly stands Orthodox, has okay footwork, relies heavily on her right hand, and I can’t recall her ever throwing a headkick. But most of all, I think she is susceptible to the clinch. And that’s exactly how Ronda wins her fights: She bullrushes, she clinches, she throws, and she armbars.
Here’s the last fight Nunes lost:
Nunes’ fight with Cat Zingano was very telling. She lost handily over the course of all three rounds on the ground to a superior wrestler. She showed a willingness to clinch that could go right into Ronda’s game. She also made a poor decision to grab a leg at one point while she was on bottom and got reversed. When she was down, she stayed on her back and had trouble mounting offense from the bottom.
Now ATT is not a dumb team and they will be drilling to avoid the clinch at all cost. It’ll be interesting to see if Nunes can change her style and incorporate some better jabs to complement her powerful right hand. Holm’s straight left is what kept Ronda at bay for most of their fight.
Holly also did a smart thing to avoid the clinch where she pushed off the hips instead of wrapping her arms around Ronda.
It’ll be interesting to see if Nunes can emulate that move. In her Sarah D’Alelio fight at Invicta 4, which she also lost, she lost handily to double-legs and also in the clinch. There was a point in the Nunes-McMann fight as well where McMann almost had her back. Rousey almost never does wrestling takedowns but she certainly has advanced Judo trips and throws that Nunes will have to train with high level judokas to learn to defend. If her judo defense is anything like her wrestling defense, she’s in serious trouble.
Nunes did win the fight against wrestler Miesha Tate, but Meisha was overly cautious and her tentativeness to engage probably cost her some wrestling exchanges which she could have capitalized on. But Ronda Rousey is not Miesha Tate and her style is all aggression all the time. Rousey may have to endure some punishment for her takedown attempts, but her relentless aggression and Nunes’ sloppiness in the clinch go hand in hand.
In short, I believe if Nunes adapts to be more like Holly, she could win. But if not, (I’m leaning towards not because fighters often retain bad habits.) Ronda will clinch and win from there. Nunes is always capable of a knockout and she’s sure to have improved since her losses, but if Ronda can muscle through her mental blocks and play her usual game, I think it’s a game she can win.
After UFC 202 there’s a lot to say about UFC superstar Conor McGregor. He sought redemption after his March UFC 196 loss to Nate Diaz and, boy did he get it. At 202, the usually animated McGregor came in calm and collected. Conserving his energy to last an impressive five rounds, he skillfully employed leg kicks and counter lefts to defeat the durable southpaw Diaz.
McGregor wanted the rematch at the original weight they fought at, welterweight (170lbs), so that’s what UFC gave him. It was a hard battle against the bigger Diaz, but McGregor fought a smart fight, implementing a combination of aggressive striking and evasive footwork, to win their 25-minute battle in a close 48-47 majority decision. McGregor won rounds 1,2, and 4, with Diaz winning 3 and 5. Diaz had a comeback towards the end of round 2, pressing forward, but McGregor had scored two knockdowns early in the round to edge him out.
Conor McGregor is still the featherweight (145lbs) championship, after destroying Jose Aldo in 13 seconds back in December, but at the post-fight press conference said that a rematch with Aldo doesn’t interest him so much. Could this mean a move up in weight to lightweight (155lbs)?
Here are some intriguing potential match-ups with Conor McGregor at a variety of weights.
Conor McGregor vs. “Cowboy” Cerrone
Donald “Cowboy” Cerrone is the perennial journeyman turned title contender. He even beat Brazilian “Cowboy” to secure his place as the the all-time best “Cowboy” in the UFC. He is primarily known as a dangerous Muay Thai striker (7KOs/TKOs), but has 16 Submissions under his belt.
Well-rounded, and a known finisher, Donald Cerrone poses huge problems to McGregor at either lightweight (155lbs) or welterweight (170lbs.) They are similar sizes, 73-inch reach for Cerrone to 74-inch reach for McGregor, and both have vicious punches. But while I think McGregor is still improving, I think “Cowboy” is at his peak. Cerrone also has the experience edge with 38 fights to McGregor’s 23 fight.
Cerrone differs from Nate Diaz in one area in particular—he knows how to take people down. We saw in the Chad Mendes fight that this is McGregor’s kyrpotnite. This is a close one, but I think if Donald “Cowboy” Cerrone can use his wrestling, he will win a decision.
Conor McGregor vs. Frankie Edgar
Before Frankie Edgar lost his rematch and the interim featherweight (145lbs) championship to Jose Aldo, he seemed to be featherweight’s best hope for beating McGregor. He also has an excellent wrestling pedigree, wrestling from high school to college and qualifying for nationals all four years.
He’s got a great record, with a notable win over the last guy to seriously take McGregor down, Chad Mendes. But Frankie didn’t impress me in his fight against Aldo. He was super predictable and seemed to have basic footwork that was easily countered by Aldo. Perhaps Edgar’s age (34) and fighting mileage (25 fights with some wars at a higher weight class) are finally showing. The 28-year-old Conor (23 fights), by contrast, is a much more creative fighter, implementing many spinning and explosive Tae Kwon Do techniques.
This might be controversial but, due to size and unorthodox striking, I would give this fight to the more risk-inclined fighter, Conor McGregor.
Conor McGregor vs. Eddie Alvarez
I was originally going to do Conor McGregor vs. Rafael dos Anjos, but now RDA has fallen from championship status to the strikes of Eddie Alvarez. I was never super impressed with Alvarez, so I watched a couple of his fights before writing this article to refresh my memory about his style.
The first thing I noticed about Eddie Alvarez in the Anthony Pettis fight is that he’s pretty fast. Fast doesn’t necessarily mean slick though, and it’s not so much that Alvarez’s takedowns looked good, it’s that Anthony Pettis’ takedown defense looked bad. He seemed to confuse Pettis with his awkward hand movement and then shoot in easily, even though the takedowns were telegraphed. I don’t think McGregor would fall for this obvious trap.
McGregor is also fast and has great fluidity in his movement. Eddie Alvarez was fast in his Donald Cerrone fight too, but he still lost. Alvarez leaves his head down often when throwing and Cerrone took advantage of this. He also scored most of his dirty boxing shots in the clench, while Conor avoids the clench like the plague.
I believe that if Conor McGregor can continue to improve his kicking game, add some knees, and stick to a gameplan for his opponent, it will give him the edge over Eddie Alvarez in a five round fight.
Conor McGregor vs. Nate Diaz 3 at Lightweight (155lbs)
There are a couple improvements Diaz needs to make to beat the new, improved McGregor. First, he needs to check those leg kicks consistently. His weakened leg was arguably what led to the two knockdowns that scored McGregor that fateful second round. Second, he needs to have an answer to those left hands of Conor, whether it be countering or sliding out of the way.
The thing about Diaz is his style never changes much between fighters. He still fights long and lean, and he still rarely checks leg kicks. In my opinion, this is why he will never be champion material. He doesn’t gameplan for specific fighters effectively and can’t adapt on the fly well enough.
Unless he somehow can integrate a blitzing double-leg takedown into his game, the third fight will go very similarly to the second fight. Nate Diaz had a size advantage in their second fight, but this advantage will go away if he cuts more weight. I think that Conor McGregor will still beat up a smaller, and therefore less effective, Nate Diaz at lightweight.
Conor McGregor vs. George St-Pierre
This would be the superfight of all superfights (except maybe Anderson Silva vs. GSP). But I think this is an obvious fight. We all know Conor is a top-tier striker and probably has decent jiu-jitsu, but he has never shown amazing counter-wrestling. We saw 145-pound wrestler Chad Mendes take him down with ease. Wrestling is key for transitions and this is one area where GSP shines.
GSP’s blast double leg takedown is second to none:
I think the combination of being a bigger fighter and having the best wrestling for MMA would score George St-Pierre an easy victory over Conor McGregor.
Credit to /r/mma on reddit.
UFC Vice President of Public Relations, Dave Scholler, lost control of Jon Jones back at UFC 178. He redeemed himself this night with Conor McGregor.
— Steve Austin (@steveaustinBSR) August 21, 2016
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