Heading into arguably the most anticipated women’s MMA match of all time (that’s right, I said women’s), former Olympic bronze medalist Ronda Rousey had a mountain of claims to back up, a mountain only made higher by the fact that her meteoric run to a bantamweight title shot had left the general public with more questions than answers in regards to her skill set. In her four fight career, the woman had never seen what the second round, let alone the second minute, of a MMA contest looked like. So we were left to ponder: how would her striking, stamina, and suffocating Jiu-Jitsu attack hold up against the more experienced champ in Meisha Tate?
Well, as it turns out, we still don’t know much about the newly crowned women’s 135 lb. champion, and that may just be the scariest thing about her. Tate tried to answer a couple of these questions early, coming out throwing wild haymakers with ill intentions. Rousey was able to ride out the storm and secure a takedown, drawing an ominous “Oh shit!” reaction from the viewing audience, at least where I was. That statement was echoed tenfold when Rousey managed to secure her first armbar, which I’m still pretty positive did most of the damage to Tate’s arm. However, where referee Herb Dean would have let out his own, “Oh shit!” before stopping the fight right there, referee Mark Matheny was determined not to find himself in the middle of a Steve Mazagatti/Sarah D’Alelio controversy, adhering to a strict “snap then tap” policy for Ms. Tate. That policy would come into effect just a couple minutes later, when Rousey managed to secure the fight ending armbar that can only be described as “Palharesian.”
And so, Ronda Rousey became the women’s 135 pound champion by securing her fifth consecutive first round armbar. We still don’t really know where her striking is at, and we still don’t know how well she will hold up if she makes it to the second round. But that is a huge “if,” ladies and gentlemen. A tip of the hat is due to Tate, for managing to delay the inevitable longer than Rousey’s four previous opponents combined. Hopefully that sentiment will help Tate sleep at night while recovering from such a gruesome injury, for her sacrifice served as a permanent reminder to all future challengers in the bantamweight division: just fucking tap.
Speaking of future title challengers, the Strikeforce commentating team seemed content to declare that Josh Thomspon was destined to complete his trilogy with lightweight champ Gilbert Melendez following his unanimous decision over K.J. Noons. As much as I’d like like to agree with that notion, being that Thompson and Melendez have had some classic battles in the past, there was absolutely nothing about Thompson’s performance that warranted a title shot. Nothing. Then again, it’s only a matter of time until the UFC calls Melendez over, so why not have these two square off once again, for old time’s sake? It’s not like a Strikeforce belt really matters to anyone but the women’s division at this point anyway.
Now, I’m going to leave the rest of the of the night’s action for Seth to recap, but I feel I must comment on what was likely Scott Smith‘s last performance under the Strikeforce banner. As a huge fan of “Hands of Steel,” my disappointment in his return to middleweight was greater than most, as his performance against Lumumba Sayers showed absolutely zero of the fire that had made him such a commodity in the promotion. His “guillotine” attempt looked amateur at best, and his guillotine “defense” was simply atrocious for someone who has been in the game as long as he has. Simply put, Smith needs a new mindset, and a new training camp, if he ever wants to become anything but a one dimensional brawler with a big heart. Following his third round submission loss to Nick Diaz back in June of 2009, Diaz offered to train with Smith should he ever decide to leave his gym in Elk Grove, California. It’s safe to say that the time is now, Scott, and I say this as a fan. Because you’re a “go for broke” kind of fighter, and your recent performances have left you all but penniless.