Ronda Rousey Takedown Study: Judo in MMA

Rousey Title

Rousey Title

Ronda Rousey is an Elite Judoka

Being the first woman from the US to ever medal at the Olympics is no small feat. Even as a pure judoka, her technique was very good.  The mechanics of her main throws are perfect with no errors and she was not a crude “leg grabber”/wrestler type of judo stylist that tried to muscle through with pickups and counters but rather to chain attacks, constantly pressuring the weak plane.

Rousey uses combinations to target weak planes

Amazingly, Rousey has managed to apply uchimata/hip throws as her main takedown in MMA. In general giving your back is suicide but because of her combinations, trying to slip behind to suplex/drop for the legs/get back hooks is not easy.

Her uchimata/kouchi/ouchi combination attack was devastating at the elite judo level and at the MMA level where wrestling awareness is not so prevalent for women(at least so far), it simply bamboozles her opponents. Through her training , Rousey senses the weak plane moving about her even when her back is turned and so far any attempt to circle/replant once she locks on the clinch has been met with an immediate throw response to the correct plane. It’s hard to see, but in literally 1 second, she can “jab” you with kouchi/ouchi to probe where the weak plane is moving and commit to the required throw.

Head Control is a Major Weapon

One big thing she guns for the moment the bell rings is to secure a tie up of the head to mimic her left handed judo grips. Once she grabs the head, her right hand is quickly switching between knee pick/wrist control/underhook depending on her opponent’s reaction. Her cage awareness is excellent, and she expertly backs up the fleeing opponent into the cage where she can go for the best grip. When she gets to connect her hands (left hand head tie and underhook on the right) it’s pretty much game over as she can go right into her hip throw/kouchi setup.

Opponents have evolved their counters but she is evolving too

Her fights have been so fast, it’s hard to really see if anyone has tried anything different but they have. In fact, as her opponent’s have gotten tougher, so have their tactics, as brief as their battles are. Straight punches and circling away from her initial charge have been employed but to limited success so far. Time is running out though, her own striking is starting to catch up. She has gone from blocking shots with her face, to slipping jabs, to now throwing her own jabs as she closes the distance.

Do her judo matches hold the key?

To be honest, it does look like it would take an elite level wrestler/judoka to beat her in the takedown department. Assuming that one can be found, what tactics would they use? In her past judo matches, Rousey has been vulnerable to leg grabs/ankle picks and even power doubles (when these were still legal). Also good awareness by judoka in frustrating her head grabs with proper hand pummeling and circling has been seen.

Dig in and throw straights as she charges? Jab and circle? Accept the takedown and try take her back? Who in the UFC will finally bring down the queen (if ever)? Let me know below if you have any ideas! In the meantime enjoy the video.

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  1. JSL July 27, 2013 Reply

    Another outstanding analysis by BJJ Scout. You’ve established that zero distance standing against RR is a losing proposition. (As to the remainng takedown game, perhaps ankle picks or doubles. But even a successful shooter can wind up in her guard, and she has shown that she can hit armbars from a variety of angles.) A technical, very mobile striker, capable of preventing the tie, using jabs, straight rights, and teeps, would test her.

    • Author
      bjjscout July 28, 2013 Reply

      Thanks! True, even if you could take her down what about the armbar. As for striking not many in her division have that kind of technical prowess (most are grapplers). But you never know, someone in the latest female TUF season could be a surprise….

      • DK August 20, 2013 Reply

        Noth sure, so far she has only hit the armbar from the guard once.
        From the top she sets it up with strikes. However i think she is less crafty from her back. Against Tate she ended up in guard and went for a kimura/sweep and got her back taken.
        What do you think??

  2. ol July 28, 2013 Reply

    nice. thank you so much for your videos. i’m def going to donate after i get my next paycheck

    • Author
      bjjscout July 28, 2013 Reply

      Hey thanks! Glad you like them!

  3. Kicker July 28, 2013 Reply

    Another masterpiece. Not only the best analysis on the web for MMA/grappling, but heads and shoulders above the content found on the TV Networks.

    The detail, the brevity.The sheer amount of data per minute is comparable to what professional analysts do for the major sports.

    • Author
      bjjscout July 29, 2013 Reply

      Thanks, these videos are a work in progress. I’m trying to make “Edu-lights”, though the pauses makes them pretty long IMO. Still trying to find a way to make them shorter by breaking up content into different video blocks.

  4. langoustine July 29, 2013 Reply

    Sweet analysis, I kind of wish I had the expertise to cut videos myself because I’ve done some similar analysis on Reddit (

    IMO, Rousey’s opponents need to learn how to threaten Rousey’s balance as a method of defence, rather than relinquishing all control of the clinch by backing out butt first and letting go of any sort of grip.

    • Author
      bjjscout July 29, 2013 Reply

      Wow nice write up, never seen that before (I didn’t even know about reddit till recently). Actually making videos isn’t that hard, you just need one program and cut and paste skills pretty much like microsoft word.

      Yes, it would be interesting to see if someone could actually counter her, she just seems so good at reading reactions. Even vs judokas she hardly gets taken down. Maybe the best thing is to start circling the moment you feel her touching your head?

      • langoustine July 29, 2013 Reply

        You should look into interacting with various subreddits. I know, for example, that Stephan Kesting and Jason Scully post youtube videos to r/BJJ every once in a while.

        • Author
          bjjscout July 29, 2013 Reply

          oh ok, I use mainly the blog/FB/youtube pages now. I tried to sign up for a MMA underground account but they took so many days to process it that if it ever got approved it got buried in my mail box…

  5. Ronda Rousey July 29, 2013 Reply

    Ronda’s armbar right now is unstoppable. if tate can stop it, then we have a VERY interesting fight. but right now ronda’s just plowing through everyone with it.

    • Author
      bjjscout July 29, 2013 Reply

      yep seems so unthinkable right now, but then it’s MMA and anything can happen

  6. DK July 31, 2013 Reply

    Amazing breakdown, best MMA stuff I read in a while.
    However it kinda takes away the magic of her victories :)

    I think the person beating her should either somehow stop her clinch/takedowns, or be amazing on the ground.

    So far I have never seen a single person shoot on her legs while she bullrushes them, I am curious what will happen if a good wrestler would try something like this (Sara Mcmann).

    It is to bad a fight with the wrestler Mcmann or BJJ specialist Alexis Davis is so far away. I would really like to see them against Ronda.

    It seems Tate her popularity won her the fight against Rousey.

    In my opinion Tate should train really hard on using strikes to keep Ronda at distance, and use wrestling defensively.
    Don,t get trapped against the cage, and avoid the over under as much as possible.
    If she somehow gets on top of Ronda, I think Rousey might get in trouble, in both cases that Carmouche and Tate took her back, it was when she had ended underneath.

    Also training specific unbalancing techniques from the over under, and counters to her throws might be a good idea.
    We saw Ayaka Hamasaki being taken down twice, because her opponent countered her Uchi mata.

    • Author
      bjjscout July 31, 2013 Reply

      hey thanks for this! Good points. Seems to hard even think about wining a clinch battle with Rousey. She was fighting under 70kg girls in the olympics and I think even men before. So looks like “stopping” her takedown means either (1) run (2) straights. Shoot seems ok but if you fail then you are in trouble. Tricky….maybe we will get to see the first “Condit v Diaz” fight in the UFC for WMMA…

      • DK August 1, 2013 Reply

        Hard to tell, perhaps Mcmann could defend her clinch atacks, if she trains specificly to stop Rousey her favorite grips.

        I am doubtfull of Miesha her chances against Rousey. She did decently in their first fight, but Rousey has improved a lot in the main time.

        (1) run (2) straights: Mcmann and Carmouche also tried to back away from the clinch but Rousey chased them down with her strikes and captured them against the fence.

        I think someone should somehow be able to break the clinch, and neutralize her gripping.

        Perhaps they can use your video/or a similair analysis as a guideline to figure out a strategy.
        And I want to see someone go for a really hard double or single, when Rousey bullrushes them…

        Either way great analysis. Look forward to read more of you.

  7. Nemo August 5, 2013 Reply

    I’m not a judoka, I’m just a white-belt bjj player :) and I found your analysis super helpful, thanks!

    I have heard people complain about athletes (mma, bjj, anything really) being “one-dimensional” a lot, but as long as they are able to get it to work over and over again against a range of opponents, it seems like a very efficient and skilled way to go about it imo. Clearly it is not as easy as it looks, and you really have to know all the possible ways it could not work out and have alternatives ready. Thanks again!

  8. Paul August 8, 2013 Reply

    I think you’re on the right track with your analysis of RR’s attacking tactics, and I like how you emphasize the momentum and leverage involved in Judo strategy in your articles.
    I think the ‘textbook’ answer to Rousey’s gameplan is to slip under and catch her with a kata guruma when she tries to secure the head clinch, but you might also consider flying armbars as a potential solution. I got to spar with Rousey a bit when she visited our Judo school and had a bit of success with tani otoshi, but that was a long time ago.

  9. justindoggett August 8, 2013 Reply

    I have been studying Brazilian Jujitsu for 2 years and I’ve just recently become comfortable using judo. Your videos and analysis of the week planes and grip strategy have help me pull off more successful throws and put together natural combinations. Thanks for the great content, and I look forward to more

  10. LP August 21, 2013 Reply

    A lower wrestlers base with good technical striking may give her a run, but she has a great armbar from anywhere.

  11. Nishant Modi September 10, 2013 Reply

    Impressive and good stuff about judo you shared here.

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