Ronda Rousey Takedown Study: Judo in MMA

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.

A more updated version here on my Dailymotion channel:


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