“Rousey by armbar” is a bit of an MMA meme of sorts but it’s one of the surest things in a sport based off the insecurity of it all. There’s death, taxes and the odds that “Rowdy” Ronda is going to try and break some poor girl’s arm. Now comes the moment she’s been waiting for since she became a pro fighter: a chance to play her wares in the Octagon. It won’t be easy though as the first female UFC champion takes on a tough out in one-time Marine and current Lesbian Liz Carmouche.
Fight breakdown – Rousey’s game plan is simple: shoot the gap, grab the clinch and start going after armbars. She makes no secret and has been training her stand up, of course, but Rousey isn’t going to throw from the hip looking for a knockout. Her bread and butter are a wicked assault of takedowns, including a lot of amplified throws, and moving right away to grab an arm. So far no one’s been able to stop her, either. She hasn’t had a lot of times to throw hands but when she does it’s composed of jabs and quick combinations; she moves immediately to grab a limb and is willing to trade good position for a finishing blow.
She’s absolutely relentless with it, as well.
Her strategy is going to be to go after Carmouche, drag her to the ground by any means necessary and then start firing off submission attempts. Don’t expect her to do anything else and her opponent has one strategy as well: don’t let her grab an arm. Rousey may be a one trick pony in that regard but that one trick has been unstoppable. It’s kind of crazy when you think about it. Everyone knows she’s going to go after an arm and then try to break it, she says she’s going to do it and yet it still happens. So far she’s been able to just out-athlete other women because she’s in a clearly higher plane of existence than they are. Rousey is to women’s fighting what Jon Jones is for their male counterparts; the starting point of the era when being an athlete overrode being a martial artist in terms of Octagon supremacy en masse.
Carmouche has gone from being a fighter getting by on her physical strength to a more rounded fighter over the years. It wasn’t that long ago that she was taking apart Marloes Coenen with top game and nearly had the bantamweight title before Meisha Tate did before she left an arm out for the Dutchwoman to snatch for a submission off her back. Carmouche is tremendously strong and physically gifted in a way Rousey’s past opponents have been. She’s tough on the ground but her strength is in her stand up. She can trade with the best of them and that’ll be her key to victory.
She has enough power to change the game and look for Carmouche to try and get a clean shot on her.
Carmouche has to punish Rousey when she goes for the clinch with uppercuts; she can’t go the ground and let Rousey set up scrambles. Rousey’s at her best when there’s a scramble and an arm is lying there, waiting to be barred, and Carmouche has to stand up and make Rousey get up. She has to ugly it up, make the fight much more like Overeem-Werdum 2, than a traditional Rousey fight. Rousey has been called the lost sister of the Diaz brothers and it’s not only for her fighting style; she fights very emotionally and if Carmouche can rattle her cage with some striking it has the potential to get ugly. If Rousey can’t get her to the ground for extended periods of time, and Carmouche can make her kick box with her, she has a fighting chance.
Rousey’s chin is largely untested and Meisha Tate was able to grab better positions on her while Rousey was submission hunting. For all the dominance of that fight there are plenty of gaping holes for Carmouche to exploit. Look for her to throw straights and use movement to keep away. Rousey’s going to go after her and be aggressive so Carmouche’s best response is to tire her out by making her over commit. We don’t know how Rousey will react if she sees a 2nd, 3rd or 4th round. She may be in shape but how does her body handle it come fight night will be something that Carmouche needs to exploit. Muscle memory can be a hell of a thing and if Carmouche can get her to fight past the opening minutes she could find the opening.
Rousey hasn’t gone the distance, or even cleared the first round. No matter how hard you train there’s something to be said about having gone the distance in a fight. If Carmouche can drag her into the deeper waters she has a better chance. All it takes is for one big uppercut to get through and the fight can change just as easily as a deep arm bar.
Why it matters – For Rousey every fight matters because the future of WMMA depends on it. That’s not just conjecture or making mountains out of a mole hill; Rousey is the face of this aspect of the women’s game and is the sole reason women are fighting in the Octagon. A loss here, especially one in which she’s exposed badly, puts her closer to being Kimbo Slice instead of Jackie Robinson.
Without Rousey as champion WMMA will probably have a short shelf life in the UFC. Everything she’ll have worked for disappears sooner than later with a loss; no one cares about WMMA in the UFC without Ronda is the champion. The complaints about WMMA from several years ago are still the same. Rousey’s just changed the equation by being this force of nature.
For Carmouche it’s the opportunity to be the ultimate spoiler. A win here and she’ll have pulled off what no one had thought possible. Carmouche has been a big story in the gay community, as a number of gay sports publications have profiled her, and what better story than for the plucky girl that could and her girlfriend celebrating in the Octagon after pulling a Buster Douglas style upset?
It would be Dana White’s biggest nightmare, as the UFC has invested in Ronda to break the few remaining barriers to mainstream acceptance, and a loss here would be exactly the opposite of what the UFC wants. They may talk about not wanting a particular result but Ronda Rousey as the UFC’s ambassador to the housewives and low-information voters of the world is something they’re counting on. She gets attention no other fighter does and as the undefeated, arm-barring champion of the world she gets to places guys like GSP would only dream of getting to.
Prediction – Rousey by Armbar