Sarah Kaufman is looking to kill the mystique surrounding Ronda Rousey’s devastating armbar.
Though Rousey’s previous opponents all knew what to expect from the judoka once the cage door shut, none of them could stop her from slapping on the joint-lock. Despite this, Kaufman feels Rousey’s patented submission is just a technique like any other.
“I don’t think it’s unstoppable,” Kaufman said on a Strikeforce conference call. “It’s one technique that can be used from multiple different angles. Ronda’s clearly put a lot of work with the judo into the fast transitions, but it doesn’t make me nervous. It’s something that could happen, but it’s also something I’m prepared for.
“It’s an armbar and people can have a mystique behind them because they’ve had the same submission over and over again. It does create an aura of kind of, ‘Oh, she’s won every fight by the same thing.’ And I did the same thing when I had eight knockouts in a row. You do have that mystique and someone has to break it, and that’s what I’m prepared to do.”
Since there are so many different facets to mixed martial arts, it’s rare for fighters to develop “signature” finishing techniques. But every once in a while, someone does just that. Dan Henderson has his vicious overhand right, Mirko (Cro Cop) Filipovic put away many opponents with his legendary high kick and Rousey has won all of her MMA bouts (five professional and three amateur) via armbar.
The 2008 Olympic judo bronze medal winner’s last outing saw her dislocate Miesha Tate’s elbow in brutal fashion to capture the Strikeforce women’s bantamweight championship. She will attempt to stage the first defence of her title when she meets the Victoria, B.C. native in the main event of Strikeforce: Rousey vs. Kaufman on Saturday in San Diego. The card will feature a co-main event between Ronaldo (Jacare) Souza and Derek Brunson. Tate will also return to the cage following the loss of her title, taking on Julie Kedzie.
Kaufman may be confident she can handle Rousey’s submission game, but she knows she can’t afford to get careless. After all, her sole MMA loss came via armbar to Marloes Coenen 22 months ago.
“Ronda could go for the armbar and keep her streak alive or she could mix it up and go for something different,” Kaufman said. “You can’t focus too much on that one thing. But you definitely need to make sure you’re doing an ample amount of repetition and the proper defence, making sure you’re getting out of good situations and bad situations, and putting yourself in difficult spots in training.
“I’m looking forward to seeing what Ronda brings into the cage.”
Though much is being made of Rousey’s penchant for hyperextending arms, Kaufman feels she has the edge if the fight stays standing.
“I think I have an advantage in striking because I’ve been doing it for so much longer, just as Ronda has been doing her judo forever,” said Kaufman, who has won 10 of her 15 pro bouts via knockout. “There are definitely areas I feel I’m stronger at. I’m prepared for many different aspects and if people think I’m just a striker then that’s great.”
Rousey knows she can’t simply rely on her grappling skills and has been sharpening her striking game with Diaz brothers’ boxing coach Richard Perez and boxer/kickboxer Lucia Rijker.
“I hope (my striking skills) are being underestimated,” Rousey said. “I want to be as underestimated as possible. As little information my opponents have of my abilities, the better it is for me.”
Rousey has become the face on women’s MMA since winning the Strikeforce women’s 135-pound title. In the lead-up to the Kaufman fight, Showtime has begun airing a two-part series, All Access: Ronda Rousey. Her skyrocketing popularity also landed her a recent appearance on Conan O’Brien’s late-night talk show.
Rousey said her increased media obligations haven’t affected her ability to train.
“Before I was working three jobs and training full time,” Rousey began. “Think about it: I’m actually doing less work now. It’s just that I have more work on the fighting side.
“I’m much more focused on retaining the title than basking in having it. The last few weeks haven’t been about enjoying myself, they’ve been about preparing myself and being as formidable a force on the 18th.”
TATE WANTS ROUSEY REMATCH
Miesha Tate is clamouring for another crack at Strikeforce women’s bantamweight champion Ronda Rousey.
In possibly the biggest fight in women’s MMA history, Rousey dethroned Tate in March. The two exchanged barbs prior to the bout, but it was Rousey who got the last laugh, dislocating Tate’s elbow with a vicious armbar in the first round.
As far as Tate is concerned, Rousey won the battle, not the war.
“I think (UFC president Dana White), if I’m not mistaken, has said he’d like to see a rematch eventually,” Tate said on The MMA Hour.
“He realizes that what Ronda and I bring, we play off of each other well. I think without me, Ronda would not be at the level that she’s at. And somewhat vice versa ... we kind of ping-ponged off of each other up to here, and now she’s surpassing me in followers and fame, and all that stuff.
“But it’s not over until it’s over. I know I’m still here.”
Rousey is set to defend her belt against Victoria, B.C., native Sarah Kaufman at Strikeforce: Rousey vs. Kaufman. Tate meets Julie Kedzie on the under and feels a victory puts her back in the title picture.
Tate admitted she wouldn’t mind seeing the Canadian slugger knock Rousey out, but said wants to be the one to hand the judoka her first MMA loss.
“It would be nice, I think, to see Ronda knocked off her pedestal,” Tate said. “But again, part of me wants me to be the one to do it, so I don’t want Sarah to be the first one to beat her.”
CHAMP BREAKS ORBITAL BONE
Bellator featherweight champion Pat Curran has been forced out of his coming title defence against Patricio (Pitbull) Freire.
Curran was expected to face Freire at Bellator 73 layer this month in Tunica, Miss., but suffered a broken orbital bone while sparring.
“It’s an incredibly frustrating injury, especially to happen so close to the fight, but these things happen,” Curran told ESPN. “I can honestly say I’m in the best shape of my life, but injuries happen and once I heal up, I’m going to continue to train and come back stronger than ever to defend the Bellator featherweight title.”
Though his championship hopes have been put on hold for now, Freire has opted to remain on the card. An opponent has yet to be named, but the Brazilian is looking for a rematch with former champ Joe Warren, who won a controversial split decision in their first encounter.
Canadian fans can stream Bellator 73 on Spike.com.
SONNEN EYES JONES’ BELT
Chael Sonnen’s return to the light-heavyweight division will see him take on a familiar face.
During an appearance on Tuesday’s edition of UFC Tonight, Sonnen announced he will fight Forrest Griffin in the co-main event of UFC 155 in Las Vegas on Dec. 29.
The two met early in their careers in the quarterfinals of the IFC: Global Domination 205-pound tournament almost nine years ago. Griffin submitted Sonnen via triangle choke in the first round to advance to the semis later that night, where he was knocked out by Jeremy Horn.
Sonnen said Griffin is often overlooked when discussing top light-heavyweight contenders.
“A number of years ago, I fought with a guy who turned out to become a very good friend of mine, and I lost the match,” Sonnen said. “Since becoming friends and competitors with him, I’ve also become a fan. I watched him win the world championship. I watched him etch his name in stone as a guaranteed future Hall of Famer.
“He’s the one guy Jon Jones hasn’t fought. He’s beat two world champions in his last three outings.
“I get very frustrated that Forrest’s name is left out of the conversation. This is a guy who’s beat everybody, and he’s never been in the talks to fight Jon Jones.”
Sonnen’s last outing saw him fall short of his UFC middleweight title hopes for a second time, suffering a TKO loss to champ Anderson Silva at UFC 148 in July. That same night, Griffin won a unanimous decision over Tito Ortiz.
Sonnen said he has his eyes on the UFC light-heavyweight title.
“I could go up to 205 and I could take Jon Jones’ belt the same as I could take his candy on Halloween — a little punk kid, I’d snatch it away all I want,” Sonnen said. “But there’s something to be said in sportsmanship for earning your shot. And on the 29th of December, I’m going to go through Forrest to do it.”
HENDERSON-DIAZ TO HEADLINE UFC ON FOX 5
UFC on FOX 5 will be headlined by a lightweight championship fight between Benson Henderson and Nate Diaz.
Henderson retained the UFC lightweight championship at UFC 150 in Denver on Saturday, winning a controversial split decision over Frankie Edgar. Meanwhile, Diaz’s last outing saw him submit Jim Miller in the main event of UFC on FOX 3 in May.
The co-main event will see former light-heavyweight titleholder Mauricio (Shogun) Rua take on Swedish striker Alexander Gustafsson.
Rua is coming off an exciting fourth-round TKO victory over Brandon Vera earlier this month. Gustafsson is currently riding a five-fight win streak and holds victories over Thiago Silva, Vladimir Matyushenko and Matt Hamill.
UFC on FOX 5 will also feature the much-anticipated clash between B.C. native Rory MacDonald and former lightweight and welterweight champion B.J. Penn.
The two were originally scheduled to meet at UFC 152 in Toronto next month, but MacDonald suffered a deep laceration during training that required 38 stitches.
UFC on FOX 5 is scheduled for Dec. 8. The city and venue have yet to be announced.
Though Benson Henderson and Nate Diaz have 42 combined fights, they’ve only fought three common opponents.
Lost unanimous decision to Henderson
Won split decision over Diaz
Lost unanimous decision to Henderson
Lost via submission to Diaz
Lost via submission and unanimous decision to Henderson
Lost via unanimous decision to Diaz