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StrikeForce Rousey vs. Kaufman Aftermath: The MMA Super Athlete Has Arrived

By Elias Cepeda

MMA fans have always wondered what would happen if the sport grew to the point where it could attract the types of elite athletes that have historically gone to, say, the NFL or the Olympics. Surely once that happened, we’d see a marked rise in athleticism and potential in the sport we all love.

Well, that new breed of elite MMA athlete has arrived. He isn’t the dominant and other worldly athletic Jon Jones. He isn’t the pound for pound great and all-around lethal weapon Georges St. Pierre. She’s Ronda Rousey.

The Strikeforce women’s bantamweight champion successfully defended her title Saturday night against Sarah Kaufman. In about the last year and half the Olympic Judo bronze medalist Rousey has had her first six professional fights, winning all six by arm bar in the first round.

Kaufman couldn’t last a minute in the cage with Rousey before being forced to tap out. The thing is, Kaufman is a damn good fighter. So is Miesha Tate, Rousey’s prior victim.

Kaufman is a former champion and has only lost twice in her career. Tate has only lost three times. Both women have almost three times the professional MMA experience as Rousey.

“Rowdy” Ronda isn’t perfectly well-rounded yet. She hasn’t been tested in a fight yet and she simply hasn’t fought nearly as much as the women she faces. But she’s been able to dominate them all because she brings a lifetime of doing a couple things at a higher level than even most MMA champions have ever done anything.

As a world-class Judo player Ronda is great at taking people down and submitting them with arm bars, just like her mother was during her hey day as an international Judo competitor.

There are no real barriers to enter MMA – it is an accessible and democratic sport in many ways. If someone wants to fight MMA, they will be able to find a promoter willing to give them a fight. Whether or not they become good depends on their talent, their work and lots of luck, like anything else. But we’ve seen many non blue-chip fighters become champions in MMA based almost entirely on yeoman-like hard work.

That’s a beautiful thing. It is also a thing of beauty to see a similarly hard-working individual who just happens to be a world-class athlete and raised in a competitive shark-tank and has emerged an efficient killing machine.

That’s Ronda Rousey. Our friend Mike Chiappetta wrote this weekend that she has the best killer instinct in all of MMA. It’s hard to argue with him.

Her finishing with arm bars is just one way that all of her fights have looked the same. The other is how she starts all her fights by storming her opponents, putting them on their heels and in a defensive mindset from the beginning. Ronda Rousey is literally trying to submit you from bell to bell.

Rousey may or may not continue to be flawless but the point is that she’s got more potential than almost anyone in the sport because of her elite athletic pedigree and superior competitive mindset. Former Strikeforce 145 pound champion Cristiane “Cyborg” Santos has dismissed Rousey as an easy mark that has never yet been kneed hard on the chin, as Santos is good at doing to people.

That may be true, and if Santos ever comes down in weight to face Rousey we might see how the two match up. “Cyborg” is certainly the larger and more experienced fighter. But, while Cristiane passes the time during her doping suspension by trash-talking Ronda, we should appreciate what we’ve got on our hands with Rousey.

She’s entertaining in and out of the cage, fights more aggressively than anyone else in the sport right now and has the biggest upside of anyone in MMA.

The best prospect in MMA is the chick already wearing the gold.

Cagepotato Comments

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Mofo- August 21, 2012 at 8:24 am
"No fighter bashing" only makes sense to me for the UG, where fighters actually hang out. The UG community wants those fighters to keep hanging out there, the interaction is cool. So, don't talk shit about them. Makes sense.

Over here, ain't no UFC fighters posting in comments. So we are free to say whatever we think. Freedom of speech, freedom to be retarded! Weeeeeeeee
ArmFarmer- August 20, 2012 at 6:20 pm
@festizo No I'm not generally for censorship.. but if you want to run a family friendly site, and you don't want to worry about 10 year olds reading things like fuck shit dick nuts.. then I can respect that. On the other hand, what's the point in having an mma discussion forum when you can't talk bad about a fighter you don't like? There's a difference between the two forms of censorship. I'm kind of surprised I have to spell it out for you honestly.
RwilsonR- August 20, 2012 at 6:01 pm
Wow, Dundas got a real gig with a semi-reputable site? Good for him. What ever happened to that thin-skinned Mauro Ranallo look-a-like from Canada who used to delete comments he didn't like?
Mofo- August 20, 2012 at 5:00 pm
@Danga - Sorry if my criticism is no longer warranted. I'm probably just thinking of the times when you've copied and pasted from other websites, a long while back, without much critical thinking involved. I'll shut up, you're probably doing a good job man! At least you keep the content comin'! To all the writers at CP, thanks for keeping the site going.
Mofo- August 20, 2012 at 4:56 pm
@Festizzeo - CP is a place where comments are fucking hilarious. That's what CP is. Everyone one-ups everyone else. But Taco and Rex are always the funniest. The shit comments are mainly the rambling nonsense with no punctuation - we seriously had zero of that for years, now they've moved over here from MMJunkie or whatever. Just keep your comments smart or funny and you're in the spirit of the Tater Nation. "Lulz dumbass" isn't smart or funny, but at least you use punctuation.
Festizzeo- August 20, 2012 at 4:20 pm
Where are Skeletor and Shitbag these days anyway?
Festizzeo- August 20, 2012 at 4:07 pm
I'm a noobie, I guess, and I intend on making as many shit comments as you guys, but let me ask you this...
Antfarmer:- " At least they let you speak your mind uncensored. I left mmajunkie years ago because they started heavily censoring comments. I can understand not allowing curse words, that's fair"
So are you for censorship or not? Lulz, Dumbass.
El Guapo- August 20, 2012 at 3:40 pm
Dundas writes for, mang. I'm thinking the reason he left CP is all about the benjamins, baby, more than anything else. Don't get me wrong, getting paid in t-shirts and shitty DVD's is cool and all, but... Y'know.
ArmFarmer- August 20, 2012 at 12:36 pm
At least they let you speak your mind uncensored. I left mmajunkie years ago because they started heavily censoring comments. I can understand not allowing curse words, that's fair, but if you so much as said "Ronda sucks", your comment would be removed for "fighter bashing". Now that is lame. I lay into cp as much as anyone, but there's a reason I've been coming back for years. They have their screw ups but when alls said and done, it's still a pretty damn cool site.
Mofo- August 20, 2012 at 12:20 pm
Also - for everyone shitting on the article, at least you're commenting. This article has 41 comments, while most articles seem to get about 4 comments these days.

Over the years, every single time someone expresses an actual opinion in an article, there's a bunch of people who want to shit on it. On some level that's fair game. But at the same time, all the assholes on this site apparently scared off Chad Dundas (our old weekend guy) who's actually a funny dude, check out his Co Main Event podcast with Old Dad. Good writer shows up at the site, realizes everyone will shit all over him no matter what he writes, moves on to some other site - it keeps happening.
Mofo- August 20, 2012 at 12:11 pm
I'm not bent out of shape over Kos, I'm bent out of shape over the demise of CP. And not just the stable of authors but the commenters too. We've got a lot of noobies on the site who write shit comments. We've got too many articles that are clearly written in 2 minutes (yes I'm looking at you Danga).

I enjoyed this article. Then I read a steady stream of nothing but dudes shitting on the author. Fuck that.

I agree with the posts here that say Jon Jones *is* an example of a super athlete who *started* in MMA instead of another sport. Rousey is an example of a super athlete who started in a different sport and joined MMA while in her prime.

Yeah maybe she's analogous to the Smashing Machine. Hope she doesn't end up like him.
ArmFarmer- August 20, 2012 at 9:23 am
Honestly mofo.. if you're gonna get that bent outa shape over the kos example, just pick any of the other guys mentioned in this thread. Kos was just the first that came to mind as an example of a "super athelete" making the transition to mma. If you don't like that example, just pick one of the other ones. It doesn't really matter, the point is she's not the first super athelete to make the transition to mma, that is the only point I've been trying to make.
ArmFarmer- August 20, 2012 at 9:19 am
elias, just the whole type a comment, log in, lose your comment deal. It's easily fixed by just hitting cancel, copying, then logging in again and pasting.. but it's still annoying.. and I just felt like complaining about something.
ArmFarmer- August 20, 2012 at 9:17 am
mofo, what does finishing have to do with the topic? Nothing.. absolutely nothing. We are talking about a super athelete making a transition from their sport to mma, not who finishes more fights. Set your fanboyism and wrestling hatred aside if you want to debate. And yes, placing 4th in the nation as a freshman, placing 1st, 2nd, and 3rd in the nation, having an undefeated ncaa d1 season at 42-0, four-time PSAC Champion, PSAC Wrestler of the Year three times and two time Eastern Wrestling League Wrestler of the Year, puts you in the category of "super athelete". You're content to just go herp derp olympic beats national, but they are apples to oranges. Like I said, we had 50 wrestlers per season at my highschool alone. I guarantee you the number of serious womens judo competitors is dwarfed by the number of men competing in wrestling. Also, Kos has 10 finishes in 17 fights.. so he finishes more opponents than he beats by decision anyway. Put Kos in the ufc in the late 90's where he's facing competition that's actually comparable to ronda's, and he'd be finishing everyone in the first round too. The level of competition does not compare between the men and women.
Elias- August 20, 2012 at 9:31 am
Finishing = a particular level of dominance and success.

But I got it - national college competitions = olympic level wrestling/judo and women are worse than men. Cool :)
Elias- August 20, 2012 at 9:04 am
Ant Farmer, Haha, thanks man. I'm sure Ben will see this...what's happening when you try to log in?
FightZen- August 20, 2012 at 8:04 am
This should have been listed under the unsupportable opinion tag.
Mofo- August 20, 2012 at 7:37 am
Oh my god quit your whining and bitching all you sandy cunts. I snap my carrot every time she undresses ringside, let those of us who wanna bang her enjoy the ride.
Mofo- August 20, 2012 at 7:27 am
@armfarmer - The reason Kos doesn't shine as much is that he doesn't go for the finish at every second like she does. That's not his skillset: in wrestling, you win by pinning someone on their back. Gay. In judo, she was winning by breaking arms. End of thread. Oh not yet: a national competition does not equal a world wide competition. Okay now it's end of thread.
Mr_Misanthropy- August 20, 2012 at 1:39 am
@ Ally-ass Centi-peda

Hey- I don't mean anything personal, I don't care who writes for the website really, I just enjoy the atmosphere.

@ Everybody else

It seems that we can all agree that if nothing else MMA provides monetary opportunities that other obscure combat sports do not and hopefully we will continue to see an influx of world class athletes from other sports as MMA continues to grow.
RaginAsian- August 20, 2012 at 12:50 am
I realize people just got through losing their shit over the Olympics, but it's not exactly a cash cow for the majority of its competitors to be comparing it to the NFL. Gold medalists get 25k I think? Not hard to see why Ronda chose mma instead.

And isn't Ben Askren a gold medal winner? Sorry if I don't get excited for the prospect of more of him.
UFCFightBlogger- August 19, 2012 at 10:55 pm
The Rousey/ Cyborg fight needs to happen at this point. Women's MMA is going to continue to grow with Rousey's success. She gives female fighters everywhere a chance and stage to prove they belong in the same arena as men.

Check out this rumor about Cyborg wanting to be released from Strikeforce
duster- August 19, 2012 at 9:08 pm
All the props to Ms Rousey for another dominating win, but I think there should be more emphasis on how how the training camp of Kaufmann completely blew it. I don't think there has been a fighter in recent history where you could predict what the opponents game plan is going to be easier than Ms. Rousey. The next female fighter that loses by arm bar, should immediately fire their coach for not preparing them properly. You better get 2 LHW male fighters ripping on your arms 24/7 until you learn to get out of it. Seriously.
ArmFarmer- August 19, 2012 at 8:58 pm
You really need some thick ass skin to be an author at cagepotato.. we may not agree with every article, but we appreciate that you take the time to write them. Some of us just need something to bitch about anyway, and I'll be damned if you guys don't provide. And for that, we thank you. Now fix your fucking login system... shit.
RwilsonR- August 19, 2012 at 8:05 pm
I don't have a problem with a little nut hugging after some dominance, but it's that it came at the direct comparison of other athletes who actually fit the author's definition of Super Athlete much better. Jon Jones is an athlete of the quality who might have competed professionally in other sports, but instead chose MMA in his prime. And he is a lot more accomplished, and shown much more impressive athleticism and growth in this sport than Rousey has, and against better competition. If your point, Elias, is that he doesn't have an Olympic medal or didn't compete in another sport... yeah, that's the fucking point. He instead opted for excellence in this sport. The best men in other sports, in their prime, can't excel as well in MMA as Rousey because the talent pool is so much deeper. That's why I mentioned Satishi Ishii and Rulon Gardner. They might have both been the Ronda Rousey's of male MMA had the men's divisions still been in 1994 levels of talent. And when the men's MMA divisions were at that level of talent, Mark Coleman, Mark Kerr, and other top wrestlers did come in and make the same type of impact Rousey is making now for the shallow women's division.
El Guapo- August 19, 2012 at 6:53 pm
"The new breed... of elite MMA... athlete... Has arrived. She is Ronda Rousey."

B. Mauro Ranallo
C. Clayton Bigsby
D. Elian Zepeta
Elias- August 20, 2012 at 9:14 am
I'm choosing option, B. I love that guy.
angry little feet- August 20, 2012 at 10:08 am
Okay - I was with you up to this point. But Mauro? Really? Ugg. That man makes my fur stand on end. And not in a good way :(