Ronda Rousey tries to tap Luke Rockhold with her specialty armbar
The Mixed Martial Arts history books contain many chapters dedicated to the submission experts who have choked and locked their names into sporting immortality. Among these pages include the names Nogueira, Sakuraba, Emelianenko, Mir, Hughes… and of course Gracies, both Royce and Rickson. Its no surprise that these names read as not only as a list of MMA submission greats, but simply, MMA greats. Submissions are one of the most definitive techniques in martial arts. The main reason being that, unlike strikes, lucky submissions don’t occur, they have to be earned.
Ronda Rousey is a name that will echo through MMA barbershop talks until human beings stop throwing punches. She is a legend by multiple accounts. She is touted for her thunderous knockout power, dominating clinch, gravity-defying throws and for being a pioneer in female sports. Her name will be peppered through the MMA history books for her prevalence in many categories. One of which, will be the category of submissions: she is known for having one of, if not the greatest, armbar techniques seen in the sport.
The competition for the Armbar G.O.A.T. is fierce. Rousey’s résumé must be lined up with the likes of Nogueira’s conquering of Bob Sapp, Emelianenko’s masterful hip movement from the guard and Rickson’s storied ability to submit every-single-opponent. Rousey’s claim lays in her six straight first round armbars to begin her MMA career, which was later capped off with an armbar following a takedown reversal… after 14 seconds into the fight against Cat Zingano.
Colloquially, the armbar is associated with Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu. However, this technique originated in traditional Japanese Jiu-Jitsu, of which Judo branched off from. The technique, originally termed the Juji Gatame, is one that Rousey has been perfecting ever since she started training Judo at the age of 11. Now holding a 4th degree black belt in Judo, her accomplishments in the sport are rivaled by few. At the 2004 Athens Olympic games, she was the youngest Judoka (Judo practitioner) at the event, qualifying at the age of 17. At the 2008 Beijing Olympics, she became the first American to win a Judo medal since the sport’s Olympic inception in 1992.
Watch Ronda Rousey finish her famous armbar against a man 50lbs heavier than her, in Luke Rockhold:
Luke Rockhold is not an easy opponent. He is a black belt in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu. 9 out of his 15 MMA wins have been via submission … and he’s hit some rare ones; including a kimura from an inverted triangle against Tim Boetsch and a mounted guillotine against current UFC middleweight champion Michael Bisping.
But experience and prowess will not change the fact that defending an armbar against Ronda Rousey is a daunting, and possibly futile task. The video starts with Rousey controlling Rockhold using the spider-web position: where she has her legs crossed across Rockhold’s shoulders with one of her arms controlling Rockhold’s right arm with a hook. To finish the submission, she needs to fully extend his right arm towards her. However, Rockhold is defending effectively by wrapping his right hand around his left bicep, generating enough leverage to keep his arm bent.
Rockhold’s sound defense forces Rousey to employ what she calls “Plan B”, where she props Luke up on his far shoulder, which allows the Judoka to trap his arm with greater leverage. Once she breaks his bicep grip, its all downhill from there, as she manages to extend his arm. In a last-ditch defensive effort, Rockhold swings his left leg over Rousey’s head to position his extended arm at a safe angle. However, its all for naught, as eventually, Rousey beings to hyperextend his elbow, and Luke taps.