Although more recently known as a pop culture icon and lightning rod for controversy, Ronda Rousey can lay claim to being the greatest female mixed martial artist of all time. Rising through the amateur circuit, Rousey was initially met with skepticism and derision throughout her career, despite her outstanding in-ring performances.
Rousey was born to renowned American judoka Anne-Marie De Mars. De Mars was the first American to win a Judo World Championship, and began instilling the basics in her daughter from an early age. Suffering from stunted social development due to a problem at birth, Rousey immersed herself in the Japanese martial art throughout her childhood, often having to enter boys’ competitions due to her dominance.
Rousey’s exceptional potential was to be realized at the 2008 Beijing Olympics, where she won a bronze medal in Judo at just 21 years of age. Despite her perceived success, Rousey was somewhat despondent post Olympics. Her perfectionism and competitiveness would later prove to be one of her key attributes in MMA (Mixed Martial Arts). At a loose end, Rousey began training MMA at a local gym later in 2008, and after making her amateur debut in 2010, quickly amassed a record of 3-0 with a total fight time of less than 2 minutes.
Rousey progressed to leading MMA organization Strikeforce once she turned professional in 2011, and gained the 145-pound championship by dislocating the incumbent’s elbow via her patented armbar. It is also in Strikeforce where Rousey developed her career defining rivalry with fan favorite Miesha Tate.
Although UFC president Dana White once said women would never be seen in the UFC octagon, Rousey’s notoriety was overwhelming, and when the UFC purchased Strikeforce, White created the 135 pound Women’s Bantamweight Division. Rousey was made the champion and subsequently defended the title 6 times before being dethroned by Holly Holm at UFC 193.
Despite her last two devastating losses, it is hard to deny the huge influence Ronda Rousey has had, not only on women’s MMA, but on MMA generally. Not one of Rousey’s fights went to decision, which made compiling a list of her top results difficult. Even so, we’ve compiled a list that reflects Rousey’s tough style and robust ground game, here they are in descending order…
- Vs Liz Carmouche – UFC 157, February 23, 2013
Despite being widely considered the best female fighter in the world and installed as the inaugural UFC Women’s Bantamweight Champion, Ronda Rousey still felt as though she had plenty to prove in her first UFC title defense against a scrappy Liz Carmouche. The media build up was enormous, and the women’s fight headlined the event. Rousey was the heavy favorite, but ran into trouble just a minute into the first round with Carmouche applying a rear-naked choke. Rousey defended, and moments later submitted Carmouche via armbar. Although seemingly straightforward, given the pressure and media scrutiny on the first women’s fight in the UFC, Rousey’s performance was exceptional, and subsequently catapulted her into super stardom.
- Vs Sarah McMann – UFC 170, February 22, 2014
In the lead up to Rousey’s third UFC title defense, the narrative was centered around the exceptional grappling possessed by Sarah McMann, an Olympic silver medalist in wrestling. Along with being a takedown specialist, McMann also threatened on the feet, being able to knock opponents out with her heavy right hand. Although McMann was able to prevent Rousey from using her Judo throws, a Rousey knee to the liver whilst against the fence dropped her. The referee subsequently stopped the bout, awarding the TKO victory to Rousey in just over a minute. Some critics (McMann included) suggested that the fight was ended prematurely, however the decision stood, and was Rousey’s first KO victory in her short career thus far.
- Vs Bethe Correia – UFC 190, August 1, 2015
Whilst Bethe Correia was not as highly credentialed as Rousey’s previous opponents, the pre-fight was peppered with trash talk between the two combatants. After Correia made some ill-advised comments about Rousey’s late father, what was supposed to be a routine bout turned into a very heated affair. To create even more pressure, the fight was Rousey’s first outside the United States, taking place in Rio De Janeiro. Brazil. It seemed that Rousey used her anger well, steam-rolling Correia using heavy punches and finishing the fight in just 34 seconds. It was a highlight reel knockout that would define Rousey’s reign as champion. The fight also was the last in what was the most dominant run of any champion in the UFC, finishing 4 fights in a combined total of 130 seconds.
- Vs Cat Zingano – UFC 184, February 28, 2015
Rousey’s fight against Cat Zingano was the most stunning performance of her career. Zingano attacked Rousey from the opening bell, attempting to surprise her by throwing a flying knee. Rousey easily countered, scrambled and caught Zingano in a straight armbar. Zingano was forced to tap out just 14 seconds into round 1, an unprecedented result. It was the fastest title fight of all time (subsequently bettered by Conor McGregor), and the second quickest submission in UFC history. The grappling technique involved in the scramble and subsequent submission was typical of Rousey, and showed just how far ahead of her competition she was at that time.
- Vs Miesha Tate 2 – UFC 168, December 28, 2013
Rousey’s fight against Miesha Tate was undoubtedly the biggest of her career, and part of the fiercest rivalry in women’s MMA. The two had coached opposite each other in the TV show “The Ultimate Fighter” where fans were able to see a new side of both women. Rousey’s reputation suffered, as she appeared overly aggressive and confrontational, and this brought about an anti-Rousey movement amongst the MMA fans. In addition, this was the pair’s second fight, and there was lingering resentment from Tate due to her previous loss.
The fight was Rousey’s toughest to date, with Tate often clipping Ronda in the striking exchanges. Rousey was able to dig deep, and reversed a Tate takedown attempt into her patented armbar and subsequent submission in the third round. Rousey faced genuine adversity in this fight and, when combined with the massive scale of the fight, proved to be the best win of her career. The performance was overshadowed by Rousey’s refusal to shake Tate’s hand after the fight, fueling the anti-Rousey movement within the MMA fan base.
So there we have the Top 5 Ronda Rousey finishes! What do you think about the list? Do you think we got it right, or was a major pounding left grounded? Let us know your Top 5 Rousey fights by either commenting below or on Twitter or Facebook, check out our Anderson Silva Top 5 MMA Knockouts – too!