UFC women’s bantamweight champion Ronda Rousey is well known for stirring up controversy in the MMA community with her sometimes brash words. She seems to be doing that a bit more now that she’s accepted her new role as the Ultimate Fighting Championship’s most hated — yet most marketable — superstar.
During a recent interview with USA Today Sports, Ronda Rousey (8-0-0, 8 submissions) declared her “MMA striking is the best in the game.” She then went on to explain why improving her standup arsenal remains a top priority.
“I’ve reached a certain level of competition where what’s required out of striking to come into the clinch to grapple is a lot more complicated than at the lower levels,” Rousey added. “It requires much more high-level footwork and striking to be able to use grappling at all.”
Rousey deserves a lot of credit for her constant improvement in the striking department. It’s obvious she spends a lot of time working on technique, so at the rate she’s progressing, her striking might very well be the best in women’s MMA at some point in the future.
For now, her striking certainly isn’t the best in women’s mixed martial arts. Matter of fact, it’s not even the best in the UFC.
One could easily make a case that fellow UFC bantamweight Sarah Kaufman (16-2-0, 10 KOs) is a few levels ahead of Ronda in terms of both striking technique and finishing power. Heck, Ronda would likely find herself in serious trouble if she was forced to stand and trade with Dutch striker Germaine De Randamie — who compiled a 37-0 pro kickboxing record before crossing over to MMA.
Then there are the ladies who are so far ahead of Ronda Rousey striking wise, it would literally take the UFC women’s bantamweight champion a few years — at the very least — to attain similar skills.
Let’s start with Holly Holm.
After racking up a solid 33-2-3 record as a professional boxer (winning several world titles along the way), Holm decided to give MMA a shot. She quickly established herself as a force to be reckoned with, amassing a 6-0-0 pro record, winning five or her bouts by some form of knockout.
As any sane person would expect from a former world champion, Holly has displayed solid boxing technique inside the cage. Footwork, fast jab, finishing power, it’s all there. She even added a few kicks to her striking arsenal, kicks she’s already finished three opponents with.
Without a doubt, Holly could teach Ronda a thing or two about the striking game.
Then there’s Ronda’s arch nemesis, former Strikeforce women’s featherweight champion, Cristiane “Cyborg” Justino. The same woman who sent the former face of women’s MMA, Gina Carano, into retirement.
Cyborg (12-1-0, 10 KOs) doesn’t just bring high-level muay thai technique, she combines her skills with explosiveness and finishing power. That — coupled with her solid grappling skills — was more than enough to get her past Gina’s solid striking technique and everyone else she’s faced inside a cage since her MMA debut.
Cyborg isn’t just significantly better than Ronda striking wise, at the moment, she’s the only woman who has a better than 50 percent chance of emerging victorious if she finds herself inside the Octagon opposite the new face of women’s MMA.
One thing Ronda has going for her is the rapid rate at which she improves her striking skills — and every other facet of her game, meaning the probability of her defeating Cyborg will continue to improve as time goes by.
For now, Ronda remains solely focused on her next title defense against fellow Olympian Sara McMann (the first bout in the Ultimate Fighting Championship’s history featuring two Olympic medalists). The two will headline the UFC 170 fight card set for Feb. 22 at the Mandalay Bay Events Center in Las Vegas, Nev.
David is a Brazilian Jiu Jitsu and boxing practitioner who has watched and studied MMA for the past 9 years. Send him your questions @davidkingwriter.