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Thursday, Aug 16, 2012

Full Contact Fighter’s “The Daily Takedown:” Can Strikeforce’s Ronda Rousey Become The Muhammad Ali of Women’s MMA?

By Joshua Molina

Saturday’s Strikeforce show from San Diego is big for many reasons, and a lot of it rides on the success of Ronda Rousey.

In a bit of a perfect storm, Rousey has emerged as the face of women’s MMA. The former Olympic Bronze Medalist has garnered national attention thanks to her appearance nude in ESPN’s The Body Issue. She followed that up with controversial comments about Kim Kardashian, Michael Phelps and Steven Seagal.

What got her there was five spectacular performances inside the cage – where she tapped out five women by vicious armbar in less than one round. In her most recent fight, she upset Miesha Tate to win the Strikeforce Bantamweight (135 pounds) Championship.

Rousey has made people want to watch women’s MMA. Even UFC boss Dana White, a frequent critic of women’s MMA, is a big Rousey fan.

On Saturday night a lot of people who don’t normally watch MMA will tune in on Showtime to watch a pretty blonde girl fight.

And that’s a lot a pressure, even for the trash-talking, confident Rousey.

Can she hold up? We will find out. But here’s some things to keep in mind.

Sarah Kaufman is no slouch. She’s tough, a great fighter in the standup, and a former champion herself. She was on her way to beating Marloes Coenen before she made a common mistake that fighters make against Jiu-Jitsu practitoners, got caught, and was submitted.

Kaufman is also hungry. She’s as hungry, if not more, than Rousey. Rousey lately has acted like the spoiled pretty girl at the party. She’s getting all the attention – and she loves it. Kaufman has watched from the sidelines. She believes she’s a better, more experienced fighter and that the attention belongs with her, not Rousey.

Rousey hasn’t been tested yet. Great fighters emerge when they survive through trying times. What will happen when Kaufman pops Rousey in the face? Will she go out like a light? Will she look back and smile?

Is Rousey in cage shape? Can Rousey last five rounds inside the cage. As every fighter knows, it’s one thing to be in gym shape, and another to be in ring or cage shape. Can Rousey win if she’s gassed in the middle of Round 3? Kaufman clearly has the advantage in terms of cage experience.

Rousey is 5-0. That’s right, 5-0. I don’t care how good you are. 5-0 in MMA is young. Look what happened to Brock Lesnar who was rushed out of the gate. His career was over before it every started. Think about this Mike Tyson was 27-0 before he got his first title shot, destroying Trevor Berbick.

A lack of depth, a monopolization of the sport by one company and sense of wanting to cash in while the product is hot, has forced promoters to thrown marketable fighters into big fight situations far too early. Kimbo Slice was supposed to be the next Mike Tyson. The next big thing in MMA. Guess what happened? He couldn’t fight. And he got knocked out against the first guy who hit in hard in the face.

If Rousey wins, more mainstream fans will want to watch MMA. If she crashes and burns, after all of this hype, it will be bad for women’s MMA, but bad for all the wrong reasons. Rousey can either be the Muhammad Ali of women’s MMA, or she can be Kimbo Slice.

We will find out on Saturday.

Contact reporter Joshua Molina at jmolina@fcfighter.com. Or follow him on Twitter at https://twitter.com/JoshuaMolinaMMA

posted by FCF Staff @ 3:00 pm
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