“I think people realize she’s probably going to retire,” said Dana White, President of the UFC in an interview with ESPN on Monday 31st July. And with that we can pretty much wave goodbye to Ronda Rousey, the former Olympian who had been pivotal in the formation of the women’s bantamweight division in the UFC and become one of the biggest superstars of the modern era of mixed martial arts.

Stacking up 12 consecutive victories before colliding with Holly Holm’s left shin in 2016, Ronda Rousey had an incredible run of success in the UFC, using her superior grappling knowledge to destroy most of her competitors within the first round. But while her grappling remained at elite level she failed to improve her striking, and once the rest of her competitors started to catch up, she was left with her weaknesses exposed.

ronda rousey judo UFC
Miguel Discart, Flickr CC License.

The first sign of trouble was when she faced Holm Holm, a boxer who was vastly more experienced in striking arts that Rousey, and knew how to avoid getting into Rousey’s trademark clinch. Unable to secure a throw on the evasive Holm, and having already eaten several shots to the face, she sat on her stool at the end of the first round looking dazed and confused. Round two ended when Holm’s shin collided with her head, resulting in a devastating knockout.

In December, Ronda Rousey suffered a second humiliating defeat against current bantamweight champion, Amanda Nunes. Unable to secure a cinch to work her trademark Judo techniques, she had to rely on her striking, and was once again found seriously lacking, resulting in a TKO finish for Nunes.

But let’s not let Rousey’s fall from grace tarnish her legacy. For five years she was an unstoppable force in women’s MMA thanks mainly to four key Judo techniques which she used time and time again. Let’s take a look at what they were.

Ronda Rousey 4 Judo Techniques in UFC

1. Juji Gatame – the cross body armlock

Juji Gatame is the classic Ronda Rousey armbar finish. The spinning version she favours involves rolling under the opponent and knocking them over as you secure the armbar, and it seemed like Ronda could get it from almost any angle. It’s a flowing, dynamic technique that she used to finish many opponents in her Judo and MMA matches. In MMA, her finish against Sarah Kaufman is perhaps the perfect example. The fight only lasted 54 seconds:

2. Uchi Mata – inner thigh throw

The Uchi Mata is Ronda’s favourite throw. It’s a relative of O Goshi, the hip throw, and the Tai Otoshi, which uses the leg more, but Uchi Mata uses the inner thigh as the pivot point to throw the opponent. In application, she uses all three of these throws in combination, blurring the lines between them. Ronda’s fights against her long time rival Misha Tate contain perfect examples of using the three throws in combination.

3. Kouchi Gari – small inner reap

One of the best defenses to the Uchi Mata is to reposition your feet and lean your weight back, making it difficult to throw you forward. However, this sets you up perfectly for the Kouchi Gari, the “small inner reap” throw, which is a kind of leg trip on the inside of their leg. It’s the takedown Ronda uses against Sarah Kaufman when she’s up against the cage in the clip already posted above, before finishing her with an armbar.

Here’s a video of Ronda showing a Kouchi Gari combination from a shoulder throw, which nicely illustrates the principle of using it as a ‘plan B’, once the initial attack has failed:

4. Kosoto Gari – small outer reap

A sister technique to the Kouchi Gari, in the Kosoto Gari (“small outer reap”) you wrap your leg around the outside of their leg to get the takedown. Ronda used the Kosoto Gari technique effectively against Bethe Correia in their UFC 190 fight, but also against many of her previous opponents, including Mesha Tate.

Ronda Rousey Legacy After Retirement from UFC

On the eve of her retirement from the UFC, let’s remember Ronda Rousey not as the fighter who got let down by her striking in the end, but as the former Judo Olympic medalist who brought some incredibly artistic Judo techniques to the UFC, and produced some of the most spectacular first round finishes we’ll ever see. We’re probably not going to see a champion like her again, so let’s enjoy our memories of her and these highlights:

Disney | ABC Television Group
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