After weeks of pre-fight trash talking, Olympic medallist “Rowdy” Ronda Rousey needed less than one round to capture Strikeforce gold tonight at Strikeforce: “Tate vs Rousey” in Columbus, Ohio. Rousey submitted former champ Miesha “Takedown” Tate with a gruesome armbar in the main event.
The impressive win earned Rousey the Strikeforce Women’s Bantamweight Championship and solidified her spot as one of MMA’s elite female fighters. She was not the only star on tonight’s card, however, as Sarah Kaufman outlasted fellow Canadian Alexis Davis in a fight of the night candidate.
Rousey (5-0-0) looked to have another quick submission victory locked up early in the fight with Tate (12-3-0). When Tate refused to tap out to an armbar despite appearing to have had her elbow dislocated, however, Rousey clearly had a fight on her hands. Tate proceeded to take the challenger’s back and worked for rear-naked chokes, but she was unable to secure the hold.
After Rousey got back to her feet, the fighters tried for duelling front headlocks near the cage. The fight again returned to the feet and Rousey threw Tate to the mat and landed in the scarf hold position. She passed to mount and landed punches that forced Tate to give up her back. It would ultimately prove to be Tate’s undoing, as Rousey transitioned into another deep armbar.
With a pained expression on her face, Tate fought to free herself from the hold even after her arm appeared to be snapped at the elbow. With just over 30 seconds remaining in the opening round, Tate was forced to submit and Strikeforce crowned a new female champion.
Rousey had faced widespread criticism for talking herself into the title fight despite having no prior fights at 135 pounds. She backed up her words with the submission win tonight and now appears poised for a showdown with former titleholder Sarah Kaufman, who was victorious on tonight’s preliminary card.
Winner: Ronda Rousey by Submission (Armbar) at 4:27 of round one. She improves to 5-0-0 and becomes the new Strikeforce Women’s Bantamweight Champion.
Just a few short hours before Tate and Rousey took to the cage, Kaufman (15-1-0) and Davis (11-5-0) engaged in a spirited number one contender’s bout that served as a rematch from the pair’s first meeting in 2007. Kaufman once again walked away with her hand raised, but she found herself in a much tougher battle than many had expected.
Davis was very aggressive with punches right away and seemed content to engage Kaufman in standup exchanges despite Kaufman’s reputation as one of the premier female strikers in the sport. Kaufman outlanded her foe as the round wore on and a deep gash was opened above Davis’s left eye. The fight was allowed to continue and Davis made the most of it by mixing up her strikes with punches, knees and body kicks. She cut Kaufman with an elbow late in the round.
It was more of the same in the second stanza, with Kaufman sticking to her jab and boxing-centred strategy while Davis circled and landed kicks and occasional knees. Both fighters began to show damage on their faces, but the pace remained high. While Kaufman looked to maintain a slight edge in the exchanges, Davis kept her guessing with her vastly improved striking.
The final round was all Davis. She landed knees and uppercuts in a clinch before taking Kaufman down to the mat. From there, Davis worked for an armbar from side control and prevented Kaufman from standing. When Kaufman looked to scramble, Davis took her back and hunted for a rear-naked choke. She could not get it, but she did land a series of punches from the top to close out the dominant round.
Davis’s late rally was not enough, however, and two judges awarded the close bout to Kaufman. A third ruled it even. Kaufman will now move on to face new champion Rousey at a date to be determined.
Winner: Sarah Kaufman by Majority Decision (29-28, 29-28, 29-29) after three rounds. She improves to 15-1-0.
Tonight’s Tate-Rousey main event marked the first time that women had headlined a major Strikeforce card since August 2009 when Cristiane “Cyborg” Santos defeated Gina “Conviction” Carano. Santos is currently on the sidelines serving a suspension after testing positive for steroids. Carano is pursuing an acting career. Despite this, all four women on tonight’s card proved that female fighters deserve to be prominently featured on Strikeforce cards moving forward.