UFC women’s bantamweight champion Ronda Rousey continued to re-write the history books with a 14-second armbar finish against Cat Zingano, marking her fifth title defence in Saturday’s UFC 184 main event at the Staples Center, Los Angeles.
It begs the question: how much better can the champ get? Her previous showcase, against Alexis Davis at UFC 175 last July, was finished by strikes after 16 seconds, and five months earlier at UFC 170 she smashed Sara McMann in 66 seconds.
Zingano came out with intent, throwing a flying knee but getting caught in a scramble. The challenger, 32, ended up on the bottom in a precarious position and tapped out as Rousey bent her arm backwards.
Once more “Rowdy” showed Olympic-level judo – complimented by balance and strong hips – to go with the kind of killer instinct rarely shown by any other fighter in the UFC. If anything the Californian is getter better, so where does she rank in the history of the sport?
It’s important to remember her own weight class is still developing in terms of the talent pool – plenty of the top 15 never competed in Strikeforce or hold under three UFC contests to their name.
Plus, the likes of 145lbs lynchpin Jose Aldo (seven defences) and light-heavyweight king Jon Jones (eight) still hold more consecutive wins in title fights than Rousey. She may not hold the greatness of Anderson Silva – not yet anyway – but she nevertheless wins her fights in more convincing fashion than the Brazilian.
At his peak, Silva created his own personal highlight reel, fighting like some kind of Marvel action hero with savage muay Thai skills. Still, “The Spider” was known to take his eyes off the ball – motivation was a struggle at times, which you can never say about Rousey.
Another legend, Georges St-Pierre, achieved nine UFC welterweight title defences during two separate reigns between 2006 and 2014. Unlike Rousey, “Rush” applied more of a scientific approach. He analysed his own strengths, his opponent’s weakness, and created gameplans that would win him the contest with as little fuss as possible. GSP remains a standard-bearer for the sport but Rousey embraces danger far more in her fighting style.
Indeed, her knack of making her rivals submit conjures up memories of Brazilian jiu-jitsu legend Royce Gracie, who dominated the early UFC tournaments, bringing submission fighting to a new audience.
Rousey’s immediate future could be determined by Bethe Correia or Jessica Eye, though. Both imposing bantamweights have hankered with Dana White for a title shot in the near future.
Brazil’s Correia, ranked seven, worked her clinch game to devastating effect during her second round TKO over Shayna Baszler in August, while Eye possesses sharp boxing and closes distance well.
Holly Holm, the eighteen time world boxing champion, threw her name into the hat at UFC 184 with a split decision over Raquel Pennington. The Albuquerque woman picked off “Rocky” from range, scoring with left-right straights and head kicks. Holm, who was making her UFC debut, is ranked at 13 so may need more time before meeting the title-holder.
Elsewhere on the card welterweight Alan Jaboun and lightweight Tony Feguson both grabbed round one stoppages, moving them up their respective divisions. Jaboun, 32 and with a dangerous arsenal of kicks, ended Richard Walsh’s hopes by closing the distance and firing off a salvo of elbows and uppercuts. Ferguson submitted Gleison Tibau with a rear naked choke – no mean feat against a Brazilian jiu-jitsu black belt. Meanwhile Josh Koscheck, who once lost to GSP for the title in 2010, was defeated by Jake Ellenberger thanks to a north-south choke in round two. The Ultimate Fighter Season 1 veteran put up a gun-shy performance and looks to be nearing the end.
Article by Alistair Hendrie