In the war of words between Ronda Rousey and Cristiane “Cyborg” Santos, it’s Rousey who has the leverage, according to Strikeforce color commentator Pat Miletich.
Rousey defended her 135-pound Strikeforce title Saturday with a first-round submission win over Sarah Kaufman. After the victory, she challenged Cyborg, the promotion’s former 145-pound champion, to meet her at 135. In response, Cyborg invited Rousey to move up to 145.
“With Cyborg saying she’s not going to drop down to 135 [pounds] to fight Rousey, she’s not in the driver’s seat anymore,” Miletich told the Sherdog Radio Network’s “Beatdown” show. “Ronda Rousey is in the driver’s seat. She’s the star of women’s MMA and she can kind of call the shots. If Cyborg wants the fight, well, she’d better start cutting some weight.”
Cyborg is one of the most dominant women in MMA, but she’s also serving a one-year suspension for a positive steroid test. During her time on the sidelines, Rousey has stepped into the spotlight.
“She’s wrecking girls that are pretty much the best they can find, the best girls out there, and she’s toying with all of them,” Miletich said. “She’s unique. She stands above, just like an Anderson Silva who’s toying with people and wrecking them. Watching the artistry of it all, she’s a unique individual and people will pay to see it.”
Rousey made short work of a quality opponent on Saturday, armbarring Kaufman in just 54 seconds.
“I think, frankly, her opponents are shocked and really surprised and kind of just honestly shell-shocked at how she just instantly attacks the arm,” Miletich said. “She just goes for it from wherever she’s at, then modifies whatever she’s doing to deal with the defense that they’re using. She’s got great follow-ups to finish. Whatever defense you’re using -- there’s numerous ways to defend an armbar -- but she knows all of them and she knows how to counter all of them. She just keeps going after it.”
Even though Rousey entered the bout with five armbar submissions in five professional fights, her performance was still somewhat surprising. In particular, Miletich noted Rousey’s aggressiveness on the feet, which helped her close the distance.
“I think Sarah was just shocked that Rousey came out swinging, throwing bombs at her and backed her up against the cage and boom -- next thing you know, they’re tied up,” Miletich said. “Rousey does a great job of going one direction and then the other with her takedowns. She’s looking for a hip toss, then trying to sweep one foot, then a hip toss again, then an inside trip that finally got her. She’s a technical girl and she’s very athletic and persistent as hell. Somebody’s going to have to go on the attack with her. There’s just no doubt. You’ve got to get her on the defensive because if you sit back at all, you’re going to end up on your ass and in trouble.”
Cyborg may have a game that can give Rousey problems. She’s big, strong and dangerous on the feet. Of course she’d need to stay standing because on the ground, Rousey has been unstoppable.
“You know what Ronda Rousey’s going to do,” Miletich said. “You know what her goal is and you’ve got to be good enough to stop it. That’s just as plain as it gets.”
Listen to the full interview (beginning at 1:04:37).