Falling Action: Best and Worst of Tate vs. Rousey
Mar 5, 2012 - Once again, the female fighters stole the show on a Strikeforce Saturday night in Columbus, Ohio. Now we sort through the aftermath for the biggest winners, losers, and everything in between.
Biggest Winner: Ronda Rousey
Turns out she was ready for this level of competition after all. The outspoken Olympic medalist showed Tate that thereís more to this judo stuff than you can learn in just a couple months. Once the fight hit the floor, Rousey overpowered and outmaneuvered Tate with shocking ease. Even when Tate knew to look out for the armbar, she couldnít stay out of it. Thatís not to say there arenít still some holes in Rouseyís game -- the way she seems to lead with her chin on the feet, for instance -- but anyone who can submit Tate that easily and that brutally is someone whoís going to give future challengers a lot of sleepless nights. She may have talked her way into this fight, but her performance proved she belongs. Now womenís MMA has the kind of brash champion it needs to shake things up. Up to this point, female fighters have tended to play it a little too nice outside the cage, possibly because they all felt themselves to be a part of the same struggle. Rousey just skipped to the front of the line by stepping on her predecessorsí backs, and now she might be hard to dislodge from that top spot. Things are getting interesting, in other words. Just in time, too.
Biggest Loser: Miesha Tate
First of all, how is her arm not broken? How is that even possible? Rousey had her arm looking like Olive Oyl in the old Popeye cartoons by the time she tapped, and youíre telling me that the bones in a human arm can withstand that? This changes everything I thought I knew about the human body, and I'm not sure I like that. Itís got to be a bummer for Tate to go down to the same submission that Rousey used on every other opponent, so I can understand her reluctance to tap to it. Still, itís one thing to hold on if youíre working for an escape or trying to ride out the round. Tate was doing neither during that final armbar. She refused to tap out of pure stubbornness, which is kind of cool, I guess, but also very risky when you need a working arm just to stay employed. You canít question Tateís toughness after that fight, but maybe you can question whether she was adequately prepared for Rouseyís judo throws. Even if her arm isnít actually broken, my guess is she might still get some doctor-mandated time off to think about where things went wrong.
Least Impressive in Victory: Josh Thomson
At least he gave us an honest appraisal of his own lackluster performance. "It was s--t," he said in his post-fight interview. Yeah, that pretty much nails it. He did what he had to do to get the decision over KJ Noons, but thatís all. He made things slightly better for himself by owning up to the boring monotony of the whole thing, kind of like how obese comedians have learned to make fun of their own girth just to beat other people to the punch. Trouble is, you can only take that out that so many times before people start to wonder why you donít do something about it. Thomson blamed his training, which he said heíd altered just so he could finally get through a camp without getting injured. Apparently it didnít leave him with enough gas in the tank to do much more than hold Noons down. There has to be a happy medium between not training hard enough and training so hard you canít get out of bed in the morning. Plenty of other fighters seem to find it. Why canít Thomson?
Most Surprising: Kazuo Misaki
Coming into this fight, I thought all Misaki had to offer was a head hard enough to take Paul Daleyís brain-scrambling punches. Turned out he had a lot more than that, and Daley had a lot less. Misaki earned that decision, and I think everyone but Daley (and one of the three judges) knew it. It just goes to show that sometimes you donít need one spectacular attribute to win a fight. Sometimes toughness and technique is enough. Of course, it helps if your opponent tries to rely too much of a grappling game that just isnít there.
Best Argument in Favor of a ĎShowtime Extremeí Subscription: Sarah Kaufman vs. Alexis Davis
You could point out that it doesnít make a ton of sense for what was essentially the number one contender bout to be relegated to the prelims when the title fight itself was slotted for the main event. And youíd be right. Maybe Strikeforce thought fans would rebel at the thought of two womenís fights on the main card, but the truth is Kaufman and Davis put on a much better show than any of the menís fights on Saturday night. Youíre telling me viewers wouldnít have preferred to see Kaufman and Davis slugging it out rather than Thomson and Noons hugging it out? The bright side is, at least Strikeforce has found a way to televise its prelims so fans didnít have to miss that scrap entirely. Good thing, too. Otherwise it might have been really baffling to keep showing a lumped up Kaufman smiling from cageside before the Rousey-Tate fight.
Most Depressing: Scott Smith
Maybe itís the years and the beatings catching up with him, but Smith looked like a man who was just showing up to get a paycheck. He appeared neither physically prepared nor psychologically motivated, and he tapped quickly to a guillotine choke that he didnít even try to escape. Maybe thatís a little too harsh. Maybe he had, as fighters so often do, a litany of reasons/excuses for not being in top form on Saturday night. But if youíre not going to try any harder than that once youíre in the cage, does it even matter? Smith got by on his punching power and his ability to take a beating for years. Maybe he did it for too long, or learned too many of the wrong lessons in the process. All I know for sure is that this is the wrong line of work for someone whoís just going through the motions.
Most Deserving of a Closer Look: Pat Healy
Heís been a background player for Strikeforce these last couple of years, but his win over Caros Fodor shows that heís earned a bigger role. Itís his fourth consecutive victory in the promotion, and his second straight submission over a legitimate talent. Could it be that Healy has finally found his groove? It might be too early to tell, but I wouldnít mind seeing him face tougher competition in some main card bouts in order to help us find out.
Most Bizarrely Enjoyable: Strikeforceís Broadcast Trio
It used to be cloying. Then it got kind of fun. Then it got almost too fun to be professional, but now Mauro Ranallo, Pat Miletich, and Frank Shamrock have found their sweet spot. They know each other well enough to make the broadcasts seem effortless at times, and they might have finally gotten comfortable enough with another to make it seem like weíre just eavesdropping on three knowledgeable analysts, each of whom brings something different to the table. For instance, when Ranallo went to great pains to pin down the Japanese name for a particular throw, Miletich chimed in right on cue with exactly what many viewers were likely thinking: In America, we call that a hip toss, Mauro. Ranallo has wisely toned down the puns and the scripted schtick, so when he does pull out terms like "pulverized proboscis" itís like weíre all in on the joke. When itís time for serious analysis, thereís still nobody better than Miletich at capturing the complex with simple descriptions that even the novice can understand. It took a while, and no shortage of missteps, but this team is rapidly becoming one of my favorites.