UFC Bantamweight Ronda Rousey grew up around the sport of Judo. Her mother was the first american woman to bring home a championship in the sport, and it was something Rousey always enjoyed doing. Rousey’s judo credentials are as along as your arm and they include multiple world titles at the Pan American Judo Championships (the first American to do so), a gold at the Pan American Games, and she even represented the USA at the 2008 Olympics and brought home a Bronze medal.
In 2010, at the age of 23, Rousey began taking amateur fights, and even in her amateur career a clear pattern was forming. By the time she was 4-0 as an amateur, Rousey had spent less than 3 minutes of actual fight time in the cage. Rousey had the distinct ability to take down her opponents, grab ahold of their arms, and get the submission win. To date, all of her amateur and professional wins have come by way of first round submissions via armbars. It also became clear that if Rousey didn’t get the tap from her opponent, she had no problems with breaking the limb.
In 2011, Rousey made her professional debut. With her storied Judo career and her amateur record, she garnered attention right away from some in the know fight fans and MMA pundits. In 25 seconds, Rousey took down her opponent and got the submission win. While some fans weren’t convinced of her abilities, they all changed their minds when she repeated the performance 3 months later and earned a submission win over Charmaine Tweet. With momentum and the media attention surrounding her, Rousey was offered a contract to fight for Strikeforce. She repeated the same performance at consecutive Strikeforce Challengers cards and picked up first minute wins over both Sarah D’aLelio and Julia Budd. The submission over Budd earned her submission of the year in 2011 on many lists. The Rousey era was in full swing at this point.
Rousey was tapped to fight Strikeforce Bantamweight Champion Miesha Tate, and she would headline the card for the title. Many felt that this was the fight where everyone would see what Rousey was made of. Tate had become known for being able to out grapple most of her opponents, but she was not able to out grapple Rousey. In the closing minute of the first round, after surviving a few armbar attempts, Tate was force to tap to an armbar and Rousey would walk out of the cage with the belt. Later that year Rousey would take on another seasoned fighter and grappler named Sarah Kaufman. Before the first minute of the fight was over, Rousey got the submission win in the first minutes of the first round.
UFC President Dana White, historically speaking, had always been disinterested in womens MMA. White had seen a one sided womens fight that ended terribly for the loser, and he even went as far as saying the women would never fight inside the UFC’s Octagon. However, the UFC had purchased Strikeforce and all of their assets, and as the events were winding down it looked like the women would be left out in the cold. According to White, he met Rousey for the first time, and everything changed. White announced that their would be a 135 pound womens division in the UFC, and when he is asked what changed his mind about women fighting in the UFC he says two words. “Ronda Rousey.”
At a press conference for a UFC On FOX event, White brought out Rousey and announced that her Strikeforce title would carry over in the UFC, and that she was the first woman signed to the UFC. At UFC 157, Rousey took on Liz Carmouche, and before the first round was over she had successfully defended her new UFC title. A title she felt didn’t count until she had actually won in the octagon.
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Rousey was tapped to coach on The Ultimate Fighter, and for the first time women would be featured on the reality show. Over her short professional career, a clear rivalry between her and Miesha Tate had formed. It was always apparent that the two did NOT like each other as the marketing prior to their Strikeforce detailed. When Cat Zingano was injured and unable to coach on the television show, the UFC announced that Tate would coach opposite of her and fight her again for the UFC title.
Rousey and Tate are set to fight this Saturday night at UFC 168 in Las Vegas, Nevada in the co main event.
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