Ronda Rousey lost resoundingly to the current bantamweight champion Amanda Nunes at UFC207 after a 13 month hiatus from the octagon. The defeat resulted more from weaknesses in Rousey’s game than Nunes’ martial prowess. Ring rust notwithstanding, Rousey failed to take the necessary precautions and preparations for fighting a striking specialist like Nunes. Inadequate movement and a limited striking arsenal in particular cost Rousey dearly throughout the brief fight.
Rousey’s lack of unpredictable movement made her an easy target for Nunes’ straights and crosses. At a natural reach disadvantage, Rousey inevitably needed to close the distance to land her strikes, or better yet transition to grappling. Unlike the mixture of circular and straight movements adopted by other fighters with shorter reaches like Artem Lobov, Rousey moved in an altogether linear fashion.
Instead of circling backwards, looking for counters, or pivoting sideways, Rousey’s simply moved forward and backward, making it easy for Nunes to execute combination attacks. Twice Rousey backpeddles furiously to create space instead of circling outwards. In addition, Rousey failed to incorporate convincing head movements into her defensive patterns. The linear footwork and lack of head movement allowed Nunes to accurately strike Rousey’s face by following her predictive movements.
The limitations of Rousey’s one dimensional striking arsenal also came to the forefront during the fight. Elbows in the clinch, for instance, would have made Nunes weary of instantly trying to create space whenever Rousey managed to grab hold. The hesitation could have given Rousey time to set up a throw or a moment to convalesce her strength.
A greater emphasis on kicks too, like the roundhouse kicks used by Ryan Hall to handle opponents with a clear superiority in boxing, would have provided Rousey with a fallback once she realized Nunes outclassed her in boxing. When Rousey did throw front kicks, her predictable footwork frequently meant Nunes was already too close for Rousey to fully extend her leg. The resulting lack of power meant the kick did more to unbalance Rousey than damage Nunes or disrupt her rhythm.
Similar to her last loss against Holly Holms, Rousey found herself outmatched by a superior striker and unable to formulate an effective strategy that would allow her to bring the fight to the clinch or the floor. Instead, Rousey’s limited arsenal of strikes, revolving around punching with very little elbows, knees, and kicks, and her predicable movement patterns, both in footwork and upperbody, created weaknesses for Nunes to exploit.
Author: Johan Vandeleuv