UFC 157: Keys to Victory for Liz Carmouche vs. Ronda Rousey
Liz Carmouche will challenge Ronda Rousey for the UFC women's bantamweight championship at UFC 157. It will not only be the first female fight under the UFC banner, but the main event of a highly anticipated card.
How to defeat Rousey is still a mystery. Her striking has not been put to the test in the cage, and she has not been pushed past the first round. Her dominance has begun to give her an aura that we have not seen since Fedor Emelianenko.
The Girl-Rilla is no stranger to coming in as a large underdog, though. In 2011, she accepted a fight on short notice with then-Strikeforce champion Marloes Coenen, and nearly exited Columbus, Ohio as the champion.
With that being said, Rousey will be a whole different ballgame.
Carmouche will try to be the first to shatter the perception of invincibility. Everyone will be watching.
Here are five keys to victory for the Girl-Rilla.
Avoid the Clinch
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If Carmouche clinches with Rousey, she will get thrown.
That is Rousey's world and there is nothing Carmouche can currently do to avoid being completely outmatched in that area. Just avoid it as much as you can.
Carmouche is a solid wrestler and is very strong, but that will not help her against someone with the technique of Rousey. An Olympic medalist in Judo. She will toss Carmouche without much issue if the opportunity shows itself.
It is smart to avoid the clinch if at all possible.
Take Rousey Down
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While easier said than done, taking Rousey down to the mat and utilizing ground-and-pound has to be a key for Carmouche in this fight.
We have not seen Rousey's striking on display in an actual fight, but we have seen Carmouche strike.
Unfortunately for her, it is nothing that Rousey will not be prepared for. Rousey should enter with a good reach advantage as well. Meanwhile, Carmouche is fantastic from top position. She is very strong and can do a lot of damage.
The danger of Rousey going for a submission will be there, but that is no excuse. If the mat is where Carmouche is strongest, she can't avoid it. You have to take a risk against Rousey in order to defeat her.
Manage the Distance
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Avoiding the clinch and getting the takedown do not typically go together with managing the distance. For most, that means either stay on the outside and strike or close the distance to avoid striking. This is what makes Rousey so difficult to prepare for.
Carmouche needs the takedown. However, if it is not there or if she is forced to clinch to try to get it, it is not worth it. If she becomes desperate, perhaps the risk will be worth the reward.
Rousey's length will likely be an issue in the striking department, and her phenomenal grappling skills will be an issue inside. Carmouche has to manage to be out of range while striking, and quick enough to close the distance on her shots.
That's an almost impossible task. Carmouche is an intelligent fighter who will have to do her best to mix things up and always be one step ahead.
Drag the Fight Out
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Rousey's cardio has never been put to the test, and while it may look like she is prepared to go 25 minutes, we simply do not know that yet.
Carmouche, on the other hand, has fought to plenty of decisions and even been in the championship rounds before. That should give her the confidence to push the pace and make Rousey work.
We know how good Rousey is in the first round, but if the submission doesn't come early, how will she react? We can speculate, but until we see it, we simply do not know. Carmouche must answer that question for us in order to win.
Perhaps her Judo will be less effective and her submission attempts will be more sloppy in the later stages of the fight . Maybe Carmouche can implement her game to extreme effectiveness and shock the world in those later rounds.
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I think we all know the biggest key for this fight, and it is submission defense.
Rousey is 6-0 with six first-round armbars. If the opportunity is there to get her seventh, she will take it. Without mercy.
The unspoken aspect of defending the submission, and the armbar specifically, is that it would give Carmouche the chance to capitalize on position and end up on top. That's exactly where she would like to be in this fight.
Who knows, maybe Rousey will make this a stand-up affair. However, that is unlikely. At some point, she will go to what she does best and Carmouche had better be prepared for it. If she is and can defend it, this fight will be highly interesting and entertaining.