Last weekend, Ronda stretched her winning streak, as well as her legacy when she battered and bruised Bethe Correia at UFC 190. Heading into the fight, Bethe vowed to put an end to Ronda’s meteoric rise to fame, while the bantamweight champion brushed off her threats. Fans were excited about the fight, not because it was an even match up – everyone from the MMA industry as well as the fans expected Ronda to walk over Bethe; the fans were excited because of the fact that the fight was supposed to take place in Bethe’s home country.
There was a lot of animosity between the two athletes, as Ronda remarked that she despised Bethe more than any other competitor, and that includes Ronda’s long time rival and the new number one contender for the title, Miesha Tate. Ronda finished Bethe’s title challenge in 34 seconds, and as a battered Bethe tried to recover on the mat, Ronda celebrated what was yet another easy victory for the current UFC bantamweight champion.
Ronda’s remarkable improvement in the striking department
As one of the few former Olympic medalists in MMA today, no one questioned Ronda’s talent. But as a judoka, Ronda had an impressive yet limited skill set. While Ronda’s clinches and her ground game was among the very best, both in Strikeforce and then in the UFC, Ronda’s weakness was her stand up. A lot of people initially thought that against a world class boxer, Ronda’s chances of walking out of the Octagon with the title would be slim. With Ronda finishing most of her fights with the armbar submission hold, people started doubting Ronda’s reputation as the best pound for pound women’s fighter in the world.
With Holly Holm deciding to sign up with the UFC, the fans wanted to see Ronda matching up with one of the best female boxers in the world. But in the past couple of years, the greatest improvement in Ronda’s game has been her stand up; Ronda has been working hard on her boxing skills, and just when people started labeling her as a ‘one trick pony’, she once again silenced her critics. This was a striking performance, similar to her victory over Sara McMann – yet another former Olympic medalist and one of the best grapplers in the women’s division.
Her victory over Bethe, who was known for her punching power and her heavy hands once again proved just why Ronda has been undefeated in her career thus far.
Her next challenge – Third time the charm for Miesha?
Ronda and Miesha have had a storied rivalry. Both women were involved in a title fight in Strikeforce for the women’s bantamweight championship, with Miesha entering the cage as the champion. Ronda quickly made Miesha tap by locking her in her armbar, injuring Miesha in the process. Their next fight was in the UFC at UFC 168, and this time around, their rivalry intensified, with Miesha and Ronda taking personal shots at each other.
Their fight however was a little different this time around, with Miesha pushing Ronda into the third round. Ronda however once again dominated the fight and ended Miesha’s hopes of winning the UFC title, by making her submit to the armbar once again. However, till date, Miesha has been the only fighter to have pushed Ronda beyond the first round, and in our recent interview before her fight with Jessica Eye, Miesha said she was more confident, and would give everything to win their third encounter.
Much like Ronda, Miesha has also improved tremendously – first out – grappling Sara in the last round during their fight in January, and putting on an impressive performance against Jessica last month, showing great improvement in the striking department herself. But it remains to be seen if Miesha can finally push Ronda to her limits in their next fight.
Ronda’s greatest challenge, and the chance to gain immortality
However, there is one athlete who is touted as Ronda’s equal, and although both are currently signed to UFC, it will take a long time for the fight to materialise. The current Invicta FC featherweight champion, Cristiane “Cyborg” Justino is arguably the most feared fighter in women’s MMA today. Heavily muscled and possessing unrivaled strength, Cyborg has been dominating the featherweight division in Invicta for some time now, and the rivalry between the two champions has the fans salivating for a potential super fight.
However, with Ronda and UFC’s President, Dana White ruling out a catch weight fight at 140 lbs, Cyborg must cut down 10 lbs to fight in the bantamweight division. Ronda’s greatest challenge will be her fight with Cyborg, and although it looks highly unlikely, the super fight will not only break UFC’s PPV records, but will also cement Ronda’s claim as the greatest women’s fighter on the planet if she manages to defeat Cyborg.
Although UFC hasn’t announced a date or which card Rousey – Tate III will headline, we can only wait and witness the rise of the undisputed queen of MMA. It will be interesting to see what happens in the coming months, as Miesha would want to break the jinx and finally dethrone Ronda Rousey as the best female athlete in the UFC.