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Ronda Rousey vs. Gina Carano: Head-to-Toe Breakdown

Craig AmosFeatured Columnist IVJanuary 11, 2017

Ronda Rousey vs. Gina Carano: Head-to-Toe Breakdown

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    By becoming the first woman to win a fight in the UFC, Ronda Rousey cemented her status as the top competitor in all of WMMA, and solidified her role as its figurehead.

    Before Rousey climbed to prominence there was another who acted as the face of WMMA—Gina Carano.

    Carano left the sport in 2009 to take a shot at acting, exiting the game as one of the most accomplished women to have ever competed. 

    Though it's hyperbole to claim Rousey and Carano competed in entirely different eras, the history of WMMA is remarkably brief. So in a sense, a fantasy matchup between the two of them renders a hypothetical clash between the past and present.

    Here we will run with that old-guard vs. new-guard platitude, and examine how the action might play out had Carano and Rousey competed against one another.

    Either woman has been designated an edge in each of the striking, takedowns and grappling areas of MMA. These edges compound to inform the likely winner of the pairing.


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    Ronda Rousey

    Each of Rousey's seven professional fights have ended inside the first round, and on the mat. That right there tells you her bread-and-butter is grappling.

    So what of her striking?

    Well, she hasn't spent much time showcasing what she's capable of, but in the spurts that have come, she's looked ordinary. She tends to get hit when she is upright and hasn't really looked to cause damage on the feet to this point.

    For now, let us agree that Rousey's striking is a work in progress, even if it's a bit of a mystery as to precisely where she is at.


    Gina Carano

    Coming from a Muay Thai background, standup was always Carano's specialty.

    She may not have wielded Cyborg Santos type power, but she normally had an edge on the feet against her opponents.

    Carano's combat origins afforded her a varied arsenal of attacks on the feet, which she used to collect a trio of knockout wins before she rode off into the sunset. 


    Edge: Carano

    It's no surprise that the Muay Thai fighter gets the nod over the Judokan, here.

    We haven't seen much of Rousey's standup, and what we have seen has been underwhelming. On the other hand, Carano was very capable throwing leather.


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    Ronda Rousey

    "Wrestling" would be a misnomer since Rousey's vehicle to grounding opponents is her judo, so we'll just call this category "takedowns." 

    You'll rarely see her shoot for a double-leg, but you will see Rousey rag-doll opponents from the clinch regularly. No one has been able to stay standing once "Rowdy" has got her hands on them, nor have they been able to stop her from getting close enough to work for the takedown.

    By the numbers, Rousey has scored 67 percent of the takedowns she's attempted, and stopped half of those attempted against her.


    Gina Carano

    Carano didn't go the the takedown-well too often, but when she did it usually worked. It worked 80 percent of the time to be exact.

    Defensively, Carano was just as strong, halting 81 percent of the takedown attempts launched her way.

    Both of these numbers are beyond impressive.


    Edge: Rousey

    Though both Carano's offensive and defensive takedown numbers trump Rousey's, keep in mind that it's a lot harder to get someone to the mat when they are fully convinced your intention is to do just that.

    In spite of the percentages favoring Carano, Rousey clearly has the edge here.

    If you require more than her Olympic bronze in judo to convince you, note that Rousey averages 8.01 takedowns per 15 minutes to Carano's 1.24.

    When attempting to get the fight to the mat, persistence pays off. And there is perhaps nobody in the sport more dedicated to landing a takedown than Rousey.

Grappling and Submissions

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    Ronda Rousey

    Seven career fights, seven first-round armbar submissions. It's safe to say the point of Rousey's game is submissions, and that that point is extremely sharp.

    Until someone figures out how to prevent her from doing what she has done every time out, Rousey will remain the most feared submission specialist in WMMA.

    Maybe even all of MMA.


    Gina Carano

    Carano only tallied one submission during her career, but she never succumbed to one. It was never the primary focus of her game, but that should not necessarily suggest that it was a weakness.

    In a match with Rousey, the thing to look at is whether or not Carano could avoid becoming just another first-round arm-bar victim, so it's really her defense that counts more than anything, and that had always been strong enough.


    Edge: Rousey

    Clearly, Rousey holds an advantage. Her arm-bar is deadly and even with stellar submission defense, Carano is in deep.

    Of all the ways a fight can end, in this pairing, Rousey by submission is the most probable.

The Bottom Line

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    Ronda Rousey

    Had Rousey and Carano ever crossed paths, Rousey's game plan would not have altered an eyelash. She would have sought to rush Carano, get the clinch, drag her down and work for an arm-bar.

    That's what she does best and no one has been able to stop her yet. And to win this matchup, Rousey would need that trend to continue because she's certainly would find no success outpointing "Conviction" if she were unable to control her on the canvas.


    Gina Carano  

    Carano's chance of winning this bout rest in her ability to avoid the takedown, and subsequently, the armbar.

    She would hold a marked striking advantage over Rousey, but whether or not she got to exercise that edge would be the question.


    Projected Result: Rousey def. Carano via submission (Armbar, first round) 

    Not only would Rousey win, I don't see Carano even ending her streak of first-round finishes.

    When she fought, she had solid takedown defense and was never submitted, but she never competed against a mixed martial artist anywhere near Rousey's level. Or at least, she never beat one.

    Carano vs. Rousey would be the biggest fight in WMMA history by a long shot if it somehow came to fruition, but the result wouldn't look the slightest bit extraordinary if you were to read it on Rousey's record.

    In fact, aside from the name "Carano," it would fit right in with all the other quick arm-bar stoppages.

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