UFC 184 was sold on the back of Ronda Rousey, and her performance in the main event will likely be what resonates with MMA fans above all else from this event for a long time to come. It took all of 14 seconds for Cat Zingano to employ the worst possible strategy for a bout against Rousey, lose a scramble, and get put in one of the more innovative armbars seen in MMA in a while.
After the fight, Zingano was distraught, and Rousey was… well, Rousey. Complete domination has become commonplace for her at this point, and that’s seemingly not going to change given that the two names she mentioned in her post-fight interview were Holly Holm and Bethe Correia. Neither of those fighters offers anything that will trouble Rousey in the slightest, so unless she turns in some Anderson Silva-esque performances out of boredom we should continue to see her unique brand of dominance. In terms of Rousey’s next bout, everyone outside of UFC management and Rousey herself wants to see the fight with Cyborg (who was dominant in her victory over Charmaine Tweet on Friday night), but it doesn’t seem like there are any plans to make that happen. Personally, I think Rousey would handle Cyborg with only marginally more difficulty than her recent fights, as her only danger comes in the opening seconds when she’ll need to close the distance. Even at range, Rousey’s striking is improving to the point where she is one of the more dangerous female fighters while standing. The co-main event was intended to turn Holly Holm into a legitimate title threat for Rousey, but after watching her in a competitive bout with .500 fighter Raquel Pennington, making that bout would be pointless. Holm has better striking mechanics than most female fighters, but that’s not saying much. Particularly frustrating is the fact that she only seems to commit to her left head and body kicks, everything else is just thrown out there for range. Against Pennington she wasn’t able to maintain distance because her strikes were never a threat to hurt, but Holm was able to avoid being taken down because she was a superior athlete. Against Rousey that wouldn’t be the case. Rather than making that bout, I’d actually be interested in seeing Irene Aldana come over to the UFC from Invicta to face Holm to gauge where her striking is really at. Jake Ellenberger got an impressive finish over Josh Koscheck to break his losing skid, but to say it was an impressive performance would be a bit much. Everyone watching will remember Koscheck literally foaming at the mouth as Ellenberger did everything he could to pop his head off, and it was a fantasically disturbing visual. However, Ellenberger still seems tentative, he was just the beneficiary of a Koscheck who seemed downright scared as soon as he got hit. Ever since Koscheck suffered his orbital injury against Georges St-Pierre, he has been a different fighter. Even when facing lower level strikers like Matt Hughes, he hasn’t seemed like the guy who was once a title challenger. Ellenberger can still defend takedowns and he can still punch hard, it’s just a matter of whether he’s willing to let those punches go. I think a good test to see if he’s capable of pulling the trigger would be a rematch with Rick Story, as that style will force him to fight actively or lose.
Another welterweight who scored an impressive finish was Alan Jouban, who moves his UFC record to two wins, and a controversial decision loss after dispatching Richard Walsh in the first round. It all began when Jouban landed a nasty left elbow exiting the clinch, and Walsh was never able to regain his wits, getting pummelled by punches against the cage until the referee stepped in. Jouban continues to show improvement in his grappling defense, and his offensive striking is right on point. That combination will make him dangerous to much of the welterweight division, but it’s still wise for the UFC to book him in stylistically favorable fights, like against another UFC 184 winner, Tim Means. That bout would be fireworks on the feet, and it’s hard to see either fighter too intent on making it anything other than a stand-up contest.
Opening up the main card, Tony Ferguson scored a first round submission over Gleison Tibau, but everything was set up by Ferguson’s strikes. He nailed Tibau on the temple with a punch that sent the Brazilian reeling and diving for sloppy takedowns. Ferguson easily stuffed those attempts, landed some strikes on the ground and moved to the back. Once there, the veteran Tibau still wasn’t aware enough to defend the choke, and Ferguson slipped it in easily for his most impressive win to date. Following the match, many called for Ferguson to get a big step up in competition, but I’m not sure he’s a top 10-15 type guy in the lightweight division right now. Instead, I’d like to see what he can accomplish against Paul Felder on the feet, should Felder get by Jim Miller. That should satisfy both sides, as Felder would be ranked after beating Miller, while still not really an elite lightweight. On the undercard, Roan Carneiro and Tim Means both scored impressive finishes, as Carneiro went up a weight class and bested Mark Munoz, while Means dispatched TUF runner-up Dhiego Lima in just over two minutes. Heavyweight Derrick Lewis also rebounded from his first UFC loss by TKOing Ruan Potts in the second round of a typically sloppy, yet entertaining, heavyweight bout. Next stop for the Octagon will be Dallas, Texas, as UFC 185 features a pair of title bouts and a stacked main card. That event goes down on March 14th, but the full betting odds have already been released at 5Dimes, so be sure to check back at MMAOddsBreaker.com in the coming weeks for analysis of the card.