If Bethe Correia wants to overcome the UFC odds and beat Ronda Rousey this Saturday, there are some very specific things Correia needs to wrap her strategy around.
Every fighter can be beaten. Yes, that includes Ronda Rousey. We're not talking about dumb luck, like Rousey slipping on one of those Bud Light logos, or falling victim to spontaneous human combustion. Rousey is a human being, and every human being has tendencies that can be exploited in a fight – if you're capable enough to find them and exploit them.
Is Bethe Correia capable? She's facing some very long UFC odds this Saturday (10:00 p.m. ET) when she challenges Rousey for the Women's Bantamweight title at UFC 190. We've already recommended adding Rousey to your UFC picks at the low, low price of –1053; at press time, the best price available on the champ has moved to –1176. But we're going to chart a potential path to an upset victory anyway. No, it doesn't involve chocolate.
Way to Godan
Rousey is a 4th Dan in judo, or a fourth-degree black belt. This is a very high level of mastery. Even if you were a 5th Dan, you'd be well advised not to mount any strategy that plays to Rousey's considerable strengths. We've seen skilled fighters like Miesha Tate and Cat Zingano launch themselves toward Rousey, allowing her to throw them and set up her trademark armbar. Bad idea. In fact, any attempt at forcing the action and establishing top control is very likely to fail.
That leaves striking – and again, not the kind of aggressive attack that Zingano attempted at UFC 184. Tate has come closest to defeating Rousey by being relatively patient, extending the favorite beyond the opening round and getting Rousey to expend some energy. An even more extreme, defensive version of this strategy is required. Think Cathal Pendred and his work in the clinch, but without the takedown attempts. Just get in there with a low center of gravity, lock up with Rousey, get in a few knees here and there, and hope the judges see it your way.
It's a Mistake
Easier said than done, of course. Pendred is a bull; he'll absorb a few shots to work his way inside, then use his strength to clinch and ideally drive his opponent toward the cage. Not many women in MMA, if any, have the strength at 135 pounds to do that against Rousey. Could Cristiane “Cyborg” Justino get the job done if she cut down from 145 pounds? Possibly, and Justino has the Muay Thai skills to viably pursue this game plan.
The other big problem with this approach: It's the UFC. Floyd Mayweather can get away with an extremely defensive style in the boxing ring, but if you try to engage in a suffocating, slow-as-molasses fight in the Octagon, Dana White might not give you another opportunity. You sure as hell won't earn any performance bonuses. However, in the “real” world of martial arts, the path to victory involves waiting for your opponent to make the first mistake, and not making it yourself.