Hi guys, I am the strength/conditioning and High Performance Mentality coach for one of the most talented fighters in the world, Ronda Rousey. Let me tell you a little about her background. Ronda is a two-time Olympian; she won the bronze in 1992 at the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing and the first American woman to medal in Judo since it became a fully recognized sport in 1992; also the first & current female UFC World Champion.
Saturday, February 23rd 2013, Ronda Rousey's going to compete in one of the most valuable mixed martial arts leagues in the world, UFC (Ultimate Fighting Championship), defending her title against Liz Carmouche. Not only is Ronda undefeated, but she has also won all of her previous fights in the first round, which is very rare in MMA (mixed martial arts) in both divisions, male or female. In this blog I will explain why Ronda’s opponent, Carmouche, can’t win this fight.
Everyone is asking me about Ronda’s training regiment, nutrition and the secret to her success. This time I won't talk about that, instead, I will talk about the psychological impact Ronda’s having on Liz Carmouche and her team.
One of Ronda’s exemplary skills is her ability to take her opponents down and finish them in a spectacular matter by the way of an arm bar (a technique that can possibly damage your elbow joint permanently). Now you’re probably asking, how’s that going to affect Carmouche?
Ronda has been practicing Judo since she was a little girl. After practicing a skill for a very long time, not only will you master that particular skill (Judo in her case), but that skill will also become part of your identity. That skill will enter your DNA; it will become part of who you are. Let me put it this way, Ronda learned Judo like others learn to ride a bicycle. She will never forget that skill.
Now you’ll probably say that everyone has a skill. Wrong. There are people that have/own skills and there are people that are talented in certain disciplines. Skill and talent are two totally different things. Since MMA is a fairly new sport, most girls that are competing in it have started practicing the sport in their adulthood. There are a lot of girls talented in one or more areas of this sport, such as boxing, grappling, wrestling or kicking but no one has mastered any of these skills like Ronda has mastered Judo & her arm bar. Ronda has skills but Carmouche just has talented.
You probably are saying, isn't that enough? NO, and I'll explain why. Under high pressure, which in this case is during the fight in the octagon, the human mind will immediately & subconsciously withdraw into a safe place and react on instincts. Undergo pressure; and the mind will go to a place that’s comfortable, a place that it has been for a very long time. In Ronda's case that is Judo. That’s her instinct and we're all familiar with how she reacts.
However, in Carmouche’s case as in most of the girls fighter’s case, that place/room is empty or it doesn’t exist. A girl that is considered talented in a particular area or discipline will perform like a novice during high pressure. That talent or newly acquired skill(s) will only last until the high pressure comes and then they will eventually dissolve. It’s a psychological effect I like to call, mental withdrawn. It is when people under pressure are reacting instead performing. That's why Carmouche’s going to look as if she has little or no skills at all when fighting Ronda. The world of MMA, especially women's MMA, has not yet witnessed anyone of Ronda's caliber, therefore, how is Carmouche (or any other girl fighter) going to prepare for something she doesn't know exists? She can only presume what she is going to be dealing with in the octagon; however, she will face a completely different reality on the actual fight day.
FEAR is another emotion Carmouche will experience. Most athletes are afraid or nervous to lose for several reasons. These reasons can be financially, emotionally, career, or ego related. I haven’t met any athlete that likes to lose; it bruises our ego, and have to start all over again. It’s common to experience anxiety in athleticism. Well in this case, Carmouche will be experiencing a different kind of emotion, the FEAR of getting injured. She’s going to be a afraid of getting her arm broken. It’s actual physical pain that Carmouche is afraid of. That is a different kind of emotion, more powerful, and very unstable. The emotion is so deep that it will alter her performance, her thinking, power of decision-making, and everything else Carmouche has learned, especially if it’s a newly acquired skill.
Please don't get me wrong, no one in this sport (or any other sport) will come out and admit that they're afraid, not even Carmouche. She will actually say the opposite. However, the feeling deep down is something very contrary. In this case, Carmouche is very familiar with Ronda’s background and is convinced that she doesn’t have what it takes to win the fight against the current UFC Champion. It’s like running a marathon. Ronda’s at the 20th mile and Carmouche is just at the starting line. There’s too much of a deficit.
Let's go back to fear as an emotion. The fear of bruising your ego or just losing in general, is a very superficial emotion compared with the concern of losing an arm. Having to come up with a strategy to counter the fear of pain will have a significant impact on Carmouche and her team. For example:
Let’s look at the psychological impact Carmouche’s corner will have on her performance. Knowing that Ronda has never had a fight last more than one round, one piece of advice they might give Carmouche is, “You need to make the fight last,” or “You need to go the distance.” In other words "Run Carmouche, Run!" Camrouche’s corner will validate and strengthen what’s already there: FEAR. That is a lose-lose situation.
Some more advice given might be, “Watch out for that arm bar!” or “Protect your arms!” This advice will, again, emphasize and enhance what’s already there: the FEAR of her arm being broken. Carmouche’s team will acknowledge, validate, and reinforce just that. Again, a lose-lose situation.
What’s the answer? How is Carmouche going to fight Ronda Rousey? and how will Carmouche be able to deal with Ronda’s amazing fighting skills? The answer is: She can’t.
Liz Carmouche doesn’t have Ronda’s experience, skills, or background. She's also not physically and psychologically/mentally capable of successfully defending herself against such a caliber of fighter, like the current UFC Champion Ronda Rousey. Carmouche's biggest enemy isn’t Ronda, is Carmouche herself, and her lack of experience and skills.
It is like having a lion fight a cat... they're both felines but clearly one is of a higher specie than the another.
Now, the next question occurs: should you still spend $55 on PPV or buy a $300 ticket to see the fight live?
YES. Ronda Rousey is the Einstein of athleticism and the Michael Jordan of Mixed Martial Arts. It’s not every day when you see such a display of skill, strength, confidence, and high performance from such a pretty and well spoken athlete. Enjoy the show and make sure you don’t blink.