If Ronda Rousey decides she wants your arm, your smartest course of action is to go to the hospital and have a doctor surgically remove it. Otherwise, that sucker is coming off in the cage, and Rousey – whose Olympic bronze medal in judo has given her the ungodly power to take any arm she desires when she desires – doesn’t use anesthesia. Why am I extolling the submission prowess of this young lady so much? Because above all others, she was the star of last night’s Strikeforce Challengers 20, and her knack for saying something along the lines of “Yeah, I’m going to snap off opponent Julia Budd’s arm in under a minute and take it home with me,” and then actually doing it, makes her the raison d’etre of female MMA right now. There were, of course, other bouts on the card, so let’s get those out of the way before we discuss “Rowdy” and her performance.
The opening bout of the evening was a middleweight pairing between Derek Brunson and Nate James, two guys who have a ways to go before they’re ready to eat at the table with the adults. In Round 1 Brunson put his explosiveness on display, which translated into him being able to dump James to the canvas and, when they were standing, to lunge in and land blows. James continued flying high in the second, although a sweet rolling kneebar attempt helped keep it from being a total blowout in Brunson’s favor. Brunson added a lot of dancing to his routine in the third – maybe more out of boredom than strategy – but that dancing enabled him to catch James with a punch while his guard down and put him on his butt. When time ran out, there was no doubt Brunson had done enough to warrant the unanimous decision.
Light-heavyweights Trevor Smith and TJ Cook were next up at bat, and though Cook came into the cage with a reputation for brawling (at least, as much as a Strikeforce Challengers greenhorn can have a “reputation”), Smith seemed undaunted. Taking things to the mat as soon as the leather started flying, Smith nestled into top position, and over the course of the next few minutes went for everything from a D’Arce to an armbar to an arm-in guillotine. It was the arm-in guillotine that did it, and Cook tapped out at 4:28 of the first round.
Anthony Smith failed to make the middleweight limit for his bout against Adlan Amagov, but those three extra pounds gave him no advantage whatsoever. From the Chechen fighter’s determined takedown early on to his wild and wooly bolo-swinging late, it was him constantly thrusting Smith into danger. The end came when one of Amagov’s right hands connected with the American’s chin and sent him stunned to the canvas, and the follow-up punches had the referee stepping in at 2:32 of Round 1, giving Amagov the win via TKO.
In the main event, Lumumba Sayers and Antwain Britt did their best to make their follow-up act to Rousey (which was the bout preceding) entertaining. And for sure, thanks to Sayers’ crushing power, it was. Welcoming the usually light-heavyweight Britt to 185, Sayers shrugged off his foe’s attempt at clinching, spun him to the fence, and flurried unerringly until Britt was slumped against the cage. Twenty-eight seconds was all it took.
As female fighters go, Budd is no slouch. She can fight on the feet courtesy of her Muay Thai background, and when facing strikers in MMA, she can take them down and control them. But Rousey… damn. Just damn. In a 145-pound division ruled by Brazilian Cris “Cyborg” Santos, there’s someone out there who doesn’t give a damn about ultra-aggressive striking ability, someone who could very well be the one to take from the champ her belt.
It took about two seconds for Rousey to tie up with Budd, only a few more seconds for her to trip Budd to the ground, and from the mount Rousey fluidly transitioned into an armbar. Budd’s elbow was very visibly dislocated after that, and the ref waved it off at the 39-second mark. What on Earth is Cyborg going to do prevent that from happening to her? I tell you what: nothing. Her arm – and any other arm the American judoka so chooses – belongs to Rousey. That’s all there is to it.
-Lumumba Sayers def. Antwain Britt via KO (Punches) at :28 in Round 1
-Ronda Rousey def. Julia Budd via Submission (Armbar) at :39 in Round 1
-Adlan Amagov def. Anthony Smith via KO (Punches) at 2:32 in Round 1
-Trevor Smith def. TJ Cook via Submission (Guillotine Choke) at 4:28 in Round 1
-Derek Brunson def. Nate James via Unanimous Decision (30-27, 30-27, 30-27)