When Ronda Rousey lost her UFC bantamweight title via knockout at the hands of multiple time boxing champion and kickboxing ace Holly Holm at UFC 193, many questioned the ex-champion’s focus, training, her coach’s competency, and her overall boxing skills. However, there has hardly been any chatter over the one main skill that Rousey lacks, yet has the ability to become proficient in to gain back her title and rule the bantamweight division once more—wrestling.
In contrast, many believe that Rousey needs to improve her striking. Historically, the California native has bull rushed and pressured her opponents, bullying them into literal submission. However, the elite striking of Holm wouldn’t allow for that. For the most part, the world champion striker evaded becoming clinched up with Rousey and kept her at arm’s length, which led to the head kick that ended the 28-year-old’s night.
Per Fight Hype, multiple time world-boxing champion Floyd Mayweather dismissed any lingering animosity between him and Rousey and even offered to assist the former champion with her stand-up.
“I want Ronda Rousey to hold her head up high and don’t let this discourage you. If you need help as far as with boxing, I’m here to help you. It’s all about timing and inches.”
Although Rousey’s striking and footwork could be improved upon, the former champion will never possess the stand-up skills to beat the 18-time world boxing champion in Holm, just like Holm will never be able to out grapple the Olympic judoka medalist in Rousey.
Therefore, amidst all the clamor, hiring a strong wrestling coach would serve to diffuse Holm’s striking talents and significantly increase Rousey’s chances of recapturing the bantamweight title. As Rousey has already mastered another grappling art in Judo, wrestling would serve as a simpler transition.
At UFC 193, the California native pressed Holm against the cage on a couple of occasions. She attempted Judo throws that were nullified by Holm’s defense, but the former champion persisted, finding herself picked up and dropped on her back. During that and other occasions that involved the clinch, Rousey did not attempt a single or a double-leg on her opponent. Holm having to worry about being taken down by a multitude of ways, and not just with Judo throws, would have most certainly changed the complexion of the fight.
At the same time, wrestling has traditionally played a major role for many who have achieved championship status, and works quite well against even accomplished strikers. The following highlights a short list of MMA fighters who have excelled in the UFC using wrestling as a major factor:
*Randy Couture became the only five-time UFC champion and the first fighter to become champion in two divisions. At UFC 118, he also easily beat three-weight world boxing champion James Toney in the first round via submission.
*At UFC 185, Rafael dos Anjos nullified Anthony Pettis’ elite striking game by dominating every round through takedowns, securing the lightweight title in the process.
*For years, Georges St-Pierre was criticized for his “boring” style of fighting, which included his mostly unstoppable takedowns. Regardless, he reigned atop the welterweight division for years before retiring as champion in 2013.
*St-Pierre’s predecessor, two-time welterweight champion Matt Hughes, used his NCAA Division I wrestling to dominate his opponents and remain champion for years.
*At UFC 162, during the second round, Chris Weidman knocked out one of the greatest mixed martial artists in UFC history in Anderson Silva, becoming the middleweight champion along the way. However, the two-time NCAA Division I All-American wrestler dominated Silva on the ground in the first round, demoralizing his opponent in the process.
*Daniel Cormier, the current UFC lightweight champion and former Olympic wrestling team captain, has dominated heavyweights with his grappling and continues to do so in the 205-pound division.
In Rousey’s case, becoming a more technical striker and improving her footwork and head movement would prove invaluable. However, defeating Holm at her own game would be unwise. The purpose of improved striking would only serve to keep up with Holm in an effort to execute Rousey’s strong suit—grappling, with the additional wrestling as a heavy component.
Wrestling has the historical tendency to nullify even the best of strikers, and since said discipline would be an easier transition from Judo, Rousey would significantly benefit from a camp that included a heavy wrestling element. This shift in paradigm and training methodology represent the best possibility in securing a win over the undefeated champion—Holly Holm.