Ronda Rousey remains a dominant force at 135 pounds. | Photo: Dave Mandel/Sherdog.com
Ever since she was a teenage judo prospect, Ronda Rousey has incorporated a fair amount self-examination into her preparation.
That approach paid dividends at UFC 184, as the reigning bantamweight queen was able to convert Cat Zingano’s aggression into a 14-second victory in their headlining encounter at Staples Center in Los Angeles on Saturday night.
“My mom likes to tell the story that, even when I was 13 years old, I went up to one of my coaches and one question I had for him was, ‘If you were coaching someone to try to beat me, what would you tell them to do?’” Rousey said at the post-fight press conference. “And that’s always been my thought, is not so much what do I have to do to beat individual people, but what do I have to improve about myself to make myself unbeatable.”
The previously unbeaten Zingano wasted little time bringing the fight to her celebrated foe, as she charged forward with flying knee as soon as the opening bell sounded. “Alpha” then attempted to engage her foe in the clinch, which gave Rousey all the opening she needed. A brief scrambled ensued, and in a matter of moments, “Rowdy” was cranking on a straight armbar to cap off her fifth successful title defense.
In her previous two Octagon appearances, Zingano rallied back from slow starts to defeat Miesha Tate and Amanda Nunes with strong third-round showings. Rousey had a inkling that her opponent would try and buck that trend on Saturday night. She was right.
“I thought that because she’d been hearing so much about being a slow starter during the media buildup,” Rousey explained. “I thought it was very possible she’d try to do the exact opposite of that. I studied my own footage a lot and thought that nobody’s came at me right away before.
“So one of the possibilities I was thinking could come up was that she would come at me straight away. I didn’t plan exactly how it went down, but I was expecting that it could happen.”
Although a vast majority of Rousey’s triumphs – nine, to be exact – have come via armbar, she is capable of applying the hold in a variety of ways. The finish of Zingano was simply another example of the Olympic judoka’s ability to improvise.
“I made that up on the fly, to be honest. We were going toward the ground, and I reverted to judo mode. I was thinking, ‘Don’t touch your back. It’s a point.’ That’s where the acrobatic thing came from was thinking about not touching your back in judo,” she said. “Also in judo you only have a second to transition to the ground. All of that I would say was instincts and reactions from a decade of doing judo.”
It all happened so fast that an emotional Zingano was left searching for answers in the fight’s aftermath. As the Colorado native recapped the happenings of the abbreviated title bout, she struggled to explain the how and why of an obviously painful defeat.
“It was a knee and then a throw and then a scramble, and then she was wrapped around my arm,” Zingano said. “I don’t know; I got caught. I was ready to do a million different things. I planned on getting in a fist fight tonight -- not being done in  seconds. I don’t know what to say.”