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The Dangers of Testing an Olympian’s Medal

Ronda Rousey’s submission victory over Miesha Tate Saturday night in Columbus proved to the naysayers Rousey can fight just as well, if not better, than she talks. The astonishing technical display also showed experience in MMA does not compare to high-level accomplishments in the Olympics.

Prior to the fight, Tate believed the superior amount of time she had training in MMA would easily trump Rousey’s single year inside the cage. A good percentage of fans and media shared Tate’s belief Rousey did not belong in the main event with a world champion so early in her MMA career and ran their mouths about it on social networking sites for the past few months.

Those individuals were proven wrong last night and it is because they all downgraded a high-level Olympic pedigree in favor of 4-5 more years of MMA experience. This is a mistake typical of the MMA community that seems to be oblivious to the fact the sport is not the highest level of martial arts in the world. MMA is still evolving and has not yet reached that technical milestone there we can start comparing the athletes to those who are mastering a specific art on the Olympic level.

Rousey only had four MMA fights to her name before besting Tate for the title but she competed at a high-level in Judo for many years prior to even thinking about stepping foot inside the cage. At the young age of 17, Rousey won a gold medal at the 2004 World Judo Junior Championships in Budapest, Hungary. In 2006, Rousey became the first female athlete from the United States to win an A-Level tournament taking home the gold at the Birmingham World Cup in Great Britain.

“Rowdy” Ronda was merely 19 years old when she captured the Bronze Medal at the Junior World Championships and she became the first American athlete ever to win two Junior World medals. The pinnacle of her Judo career was in 2008 when she was awarded a bronze medal in the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing, China becoming the first American to win an Olympic medal in women’s Judo since its inception as an Olympic sport in 1992.

Tate, fans, media, and even other fighters failed to respect Rousey’s abilities and are mpw all enjoying a piping hot piece of humble pie for their efforts. Rousey is the perfect example of what a young Olympic martial artist having competed at a high-level can accomplish in MMA. This isn’t to say that every Olympic judoka, wrestler, or boxer could dominate in the cage because obviously there are many variables that come into play in an MMA fight that these athletes are not used to dealing with in their specific art.

An Olympic wrestler would put MMA fighters on their backs with relative ease but defending submissions would be a new ball game to them. The same goes for an Olympic boxer, as their punching technique and footwork would be far superior to the average MMA fighter but would find themselves flopping around like a fish out of water if action hit the mat. Even a phenomenal Olympic judoka could be in a tremendous amount of danger if they are stuck in a striking exchange with a well-rounded fighter in the cage.

MMA is a sport dominated by athletes who are good at all areas meaning even if you excel at one specific art you can still be defeated by an average fighter. On the contrary, a world-class Olympic competitor who has dedicated themselves to MMA will have a higher percentage of becoming a world champion than any other fighter in the world. Again, I point to the new Strikeforce bantamweight champ as the example; Rousey evolved herself from a Bronze Medal Judoka into a well-rounded MMA fighter without losing touch with her base.

Also, you may have heard of a few other Olympians who have done well in the cage – Daniel Cormier and Dan Henderson for example. Rising star Sara McMann, a silver medalist wrestler in 2004 who is 5-0 in MMA, is also another name to consider.

That is the key – to develop an understanding of all aspects of MMA and learn how to tie those puzzle pieces together to further strengthen your base. Rousey has done that and she is only going to improve with time. Hopefully this will cause an influx of more Olympic caliber competitors to jump into the cage to help the sport evolve even more from a technical standpoint. Tate was a great champion and is a fantastic fighter but it was foolish to overlook an Olympic medalist and likely a mistake few fighters will ever make again.


  • Screenplaya says:

    I’ve seen enough world champion (enter art here) fighters get there ass handed to them in an MMA ring to have reason to doubt this article. I remember watching Roger Huerta pound the daylights out of some long-forgotten Jiu-Jitsu champ, in which Huerta waded in with punches and kicks and paid little heed to his victim’s single skill. I would say the level of competition is the UFC is clearly high enough to put any one-art fighter in a world of hurt.

    Apparently, the same cannot be said for Strikeforce, or at least its women’s dividion. At least not yet. I hope women’s MMA finds a home going forward, though.

  • As MItch said though, Olympian status doesnt guarantee you’ll be a champion in MMA it just makes for a bigger chance that you will due to your elite skill in your art. Great cases in point that he didnt name are Demian Maia, Jacare, BJ Penn, Cro Cop, Werdum, Sonnen, Randy. All of these men at one time or another were solely skilled in one discipline before taking the long road to train in the total mishmash of combat sports that is MMA. Now on the flip side of things you have guys like Gonzaga, Shalorous and Matt Lindland who have been successful in MMA but havent really hit the pinnacle of their sport because they’ve either strayed from their style and tried to be better at mixing their strength with the multiple styles and tend to forget to dance with what brung them.
    Good article and Im in agreement as the sport grows we’re seeing more top tier atheletes come over to it and for the most part they’re doing rather well….and I hope it keeps happening.

  • Rece Rock says:

    “The astonishing technical display also showed experience in MMA does not compare to high-level accomplishments in the Olympics.”

    Kurt Angle is somewhere reading this and saying… “Oh it’s true…It’s damn true.”

    But I disagree…it takes more then one skillset to beat the very best out there… that’s why it’s called MIXED martial arts. Womens MMA just doesn’t have the same depth in talent to really build an opinion upon Rousey’s success… Not to take anything away from her but an olympian finding success this quickly in the female division is much different then the male division it’s just 2 different things.

  • Dufresne says:

    It does take more than one skill set to make a mixed martial artist. But if you’re going against an opponent who’s world class in one area and you can’t get them out of that comfort zone, you’re screwed. Tate couldn’t keep Rousey off her, and she got her arm jacked up because of it. if Rousey runs into a fighter who can prevent her trips and throws, she’ll be in trouble.
    MMA is not the pinnacle of any one martial art. But I think the point of this article is that if you’re going against someone with limited MMA experience but who’s world class in one area, maybe you should keep the fight out of their area of expertise.

  • climbarock says:

    I don’t agree with this article, and it’s poorly written. There are hordes of male MMA fighters who are world-class/Olympic-level at one art. Some become champions but far more do not. We’ve seen Olympic Judo gold medalists fight in men’s MMA with mediocre results, fer god’s sake!

    What’s the point of this article? That Olympic-level athletes are athletic, and have the potential to excel at MMA if they can adapt to the sport and round out their game? Thanks for the profound insight.

    Do better, 5 oz.

  • AlphaOmega says:

    Really it took that condescending of a message just to say you didn’t like the article? Why even take the time to respond, or just say I don’t agree and move on.

  • While i dont agree with climbarock I do agree with him saying what he feels….the writers do a great job 99.999999 % of the time on this site even if I dont agree with them, but in the end its OUR site and if we feel their lacking its our job to bring it up.

    speakin of which….any luck on our thumbs up thumbs down comin back?

  • hindsightufuk says:

    strange article, many olympians have been successful, but many non olympians have been waaaaay more successful. either way, Ronda Rousey is an awesome grappler and has a magnificent arse

  • MCM says:

    thumbs up on the thumbs up superdave.

    And I agree with climbarock. Being an Olympic athlete shows that you can achieve success in a high level sport, it is not an indication of greatness.

    And the Olympics only recognizes certain combat sports. What of those combat sports NOT recognized by the Olympics? You can make the same argument with sports like Sambo with Fedor and Blagoi Ivanov, and hear the same opposition with names like Jeff Monson and Dean Lister for ADCC.
    Achieving an Olympic medal or any other medal is great, but should not be ticket to the top of the MMA ranks as it is only one aspect of this sport.

    For the record, I think Rhonda talked her way into a title shot. I don’t see any way anyone can reason otherwise. For comparison, Daniel Cormier was fighting Jason Riley in his 5 fight.
    “What about the fact that she won?” Doesn’t matter to me either. Lesnar won against Randy, it didn’t mean he deserved the shot.
    Rhonda may go on to defend the belt a dozen times and go down as the greatest female MMA fighter of all time, but it doesn’t negate the fact she got THIS fight because of her looks and her mouth, not anything she did before in her fighting career. And the articles discussing her Olympic achievements and how hard her life was before fighting in MMA, are just a way to try to gloss over the fact that she did not deserve to be in ring fighting for the title with only 4 MMA fights under her belt.

  • True she didnt quite deserve the fight and neither did Brock….but so what? Did Vitor deserve his fight with Anderson without a single win in the ufc at 185? Let alone missing weight at 195 in his only previous fight in years in the ufc and then being out for a solid year?
    Machida(against Bones), Hardy, Shields, Monson, Leites, Maia and my personal favorite(example not fighter) Eilers were all given title shots that they didnt deserve and unlike those the two examples you mentioned produced the results we didnt expect. Shit happens, but I like the premise of the article.

  • MCM says:

    No Vitor did not deserve the fight, nor did Machida or Eilers. The others, I can see a case for.
    The “so what?” part is that it is the fact that she didn’t deserve a shot that caused all the so called “hate”. Not that she was an Olympic champion.
    I don’t recall (and I didn’t read everything that was written on the internet) a single person that looked past her Judo credentials, or that didn’t think that if she got a hold of Meisha, then Tate was in trouble. But a lot of people don’t recognize Olympic medals as guarantees of greatness, and rightfully so. Success in one sport does not equate to success in another. And to suggest so, ignores the mounds of evidence that suggest otherwise.

    The author has written two articles for 5oz, both of which have come across, to my eyes, as fawning hero worship of Rhonda Rousey. I understand that this is a news AND opinion site, and I generally respect everyone’s right to post their opinions. But that doesn’t mean I have to agree with an author when he insinuates that anything negative said toward a fighter is done out of ignorance or when he rights an article with a “Nanny, nanny boo-boo. I told you so.” slant.

  • Rece Rock says:

    The writing is on the wall…I think it’s time… we gotta pool our resources and fight for what we want…. I think it’s time to…

    OCCUPY 5OZ !

  • MCM says:

    Don’t we do that anyway. 😉

  • Rece Rock says:

    ummm damn it, yeah. :)

  • jasonah says:

    This is a crazy article,Yeah she is a olympic level Judoka,Would the outcome be different If she was facing a legit BJJ black belt? I think so.I’m not to familiar with Womens M.M.A . I think she would have got butt kicked by cyborg And will in the future most likely. Hot chicks sell, Dudes don’t want to see Muscled up fugly chicks fighting in a cage. the state of womens M.M.A is so weak that one fighter does not fight for various resons, it changes the whole division, The contenders become Champs. I personally could come up with a few things to spice it up and get a lot more fan’s! HA HA just kidding !

  • king mah mah says:

    Thought it was a good article. I think some people that are hating didn’t read the whole thing.

  • king mah mah says:

    And yes! I want the thumbs up/down back on here! Along with the PFP readers!

  • climbarock says:

    Everyone who disagrees with the article, or thinks it’s just a bad article, is not a “hater.” I stand by my earlier post.

    But yes, bring back the thumbs up/thumbs down

  • Yourdaddydevilandlord says:

    I had no problem with her title shot because of her dominance and vicious submissions but yeah it was quick and the looks/mouth situation had alot to do with it. That said, I was excited for this fight more than any Stikeforce card in awhile and they didn’t disappoint. Give Rousey someone with great standup and takedown defense and she could be in trouble. Tate hit her a few times and Rousey did NOT like it at all. She looks bad on the feet and that one fact could negate this artical very quickly, hell, I thought Tate was about to unload before that last throw which she should have never let herself get that close to be suseptible to. Once that dude Cyborg comes back from suspension, there will be some serious trash talk going on to bait Rousey to move to 145 and back up the penis-having smacktalk she unloaded on Cyborg. I don’t like Rhonda’s chances in that at all, she would be smart to stay at 135 but she might be too proud and competitive to do the smart thing.
    All in all though, that was an awesome fight and I was impressed with Meisha’s heart holding on and refusing to tap, I tapped watching it!! I hope she didn’t ruin her arm with pride though. I hope Dana reverses his position on woman’s MMA, that was a good technical fight, it was beautiful to watch( I agree with the great arse comment, haha……hhmmmmmmm…..)and was, along with what I heard about the Kaufman/Davis more entertaining than the men’s fights. Hell, Scott Smith should hand 80% of his earnings to the ladies outright or at least as payment for lessons from them, he looked like hell, I would have put up more of a friggin’ fight than he did, and I mean that as an absolute insult to him, not an ego boost for me. I would lose to Rousey in 30 seconds, although alot of that would be me allowing her to mount me……..but I digress.
    On the Nunes/Punk fight, dude, don’t shake your head at the ref and beg for a standup. If the guy is holding you down until the bell, come in the next round and prevent him from getting the exact same position 3 damn times. Look frustated all you want, you couldn’t stop it and you got dominated by someone who by his own admission was gassed and fighting like shit. Now you know what you get to work on for the next 4 months before they feed you to the next up-and-coming wrestling phenom they want to build up on top of your name. Be ready KJ it is coming, and don’t think you are in position to choose opponents to avoid that scenario either, not after that fight.


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