One outdated aspect of the Ultimate Fighting Championship presentation is when ring announcer Bruce Buffer introduces a fighter and mentions their discipline. That comes from the start of the sport where fighters represented mostly single disciplines. Now, to become a relevant top level fighter, you must be able to competently compete wherever the fight goes.
One of the best Mixed Martial Artist competing today, Ronda Rousey has stated that she has goals and aspirations that are much larger than the sport of MMA. Recently, she stated that she wants to become a world champion in boxing, professional wrestling, and jiu-jitsu. I believe two of those are attainable. Professional wrestling can be accomplished simply with a stroke of a pen. Boxing titles are controlled by organizations that are looking to cash in and finding one that would want to make money with Ronda wouldn’t be a hard feat.
Now with jiu-jitsu, it becomes difficult. World Champion is a term that isn’t easily defined, but the 2 most desired championships are the IBJFF World Championships (gi) and ADCC (no gi). This is where the cream of the crop display their skills in a multi-day tournament format to crown the champion. The best prepare for the grueling task by competing in specific jiu-jitsu training camps against other world champion caliber athletes. This is what separates this goal from the other two.
Let’s discuss the reality of Ronda’s dreams.
Cristiane “Cyborg” Justino is considered Ronda Rousey’s rival. The two names represent a super fight a lot of fans are looking forward to. The match-up of Ronda’s grappling against Cristiane’s striking is compelling. Cristiane is confident enough in her striking that she fought accomplished Muay Thai fighter, Jorina Baars in her own realm. Cristiane displayed tremendous toughness, but clearly the two women were at two different skill levels. Cyborg lost the fight by unanimous decision.
The rules in a MMA fight allow for all of the different disciplines to be displayed. A jiu-jitsu contest would have a vastly different rule set which allows for different aspects of the sport to shine, some of which may be impossible to display in a mixed martial arts contest. Understanding the guard in a MMA contest is simple; the guard in a jiu-jitsu contest may consist of no physical contact. The rule and style difference is displayed in MMA with a booing crowd and a stand-up, versus a high level game of chess where the person standing approaches the lying opponent with caution in attempt to get to a position of control in jiu-jitsu. Ronda isn’t training with the thought of defeating a jiu-jitsu opponent right now and it is a difficult switch.
Ronda Rousey is an amazing athlete, but we must think critically about her dream. If you watch a high level jiu-jitsu tournament, you may likely see a Mixed Martial Artist competing. Ben Henderson, who is a high level Mixed Martial Artist, competes at the highest level tournaments regularly in jiu-jitsu and even has medaled. What you won’t see is a primary MMA fighter winning a world championship in jiu-jitsu. It is important to have dreams, but goals are dreams with a plan attached, and treating Ronda’s dreams as serious aren’t doing anyone any favors.