Thursday, November 10, 2011

Ronda Rousey interview

I interview Ronda Rousey who is MMA prospect and Olympic Bronze medalist at Beijing.I interview about how elite Judoka adapt MMA, what Judo skill is useful for MMA and how she want build herself as a fighter.

- You started in MMA with influence from your mother and you have referred to MMA as “old judo” where there’s more focus on ground skills. Today’s judo rules limit ground techniques and the morote gari (double-leg takedown). What is your opinion on the rule changes in judo and what advice would you give to other judokas who are interested in competing in MMA?

I absolutely hate the new rule changes in judo. I think it entirely favors the Japanese style of fighting and makes it a less realistic fighting sport. If the rules in judo continue to be influenced by politics, I see a steady decline happening for what really is a beautiful sport and martial art.

- You often prefer osotogari and harai goshi throws in MMA, which allow you to land in side control. Are there any other judo techniques that you would recommend for use in MMA?

Foot sweeps, which I wasn’t a huge fan of in Olympic Judo, are extremely effective and underutilized in MMA. I’ve actually used them a few times in fights, but it’s very subtle and hard to notice.

- All of your fights so far have ended very quickly by submission. I am curious how you will perform in a tougher fight. What can we expect to see from you if you have a longer fight? Positional dominance, striking skills or will you just try to finish the fight in any way that you can?

I just try to finish fights in any way I can. Improvising is a talent I am lucky to have, and whatever I see, I try. It’s hard to predict what will come to mind in a fight, and I think that’s what makes me a difficult opponent to prepare for.

- Cris Cyborg is the Strikeforce champion in your weight class and you have said that you believe that Cuban judokas are better athletes than she is. I think this is true. If other Olympic medalists in judo come over to MMA, what do they need to do to make the transition easier?

If judoka want to be successful in MMA, they have to focus on their ground game and transition from standing to ground. If you want to succeed in MMA with a grappling style, like judo, you have to be completely well-rounded and be able to finish fights on the ground.

- How have you fused and balanced your judo skills with the other skills that you need in MMA? Have you added bits of Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu to your judo or do you find that you are using BJJ most often now?

I see no big difference between BJJ and judo. When people compliment me on my BJJ, I tell them I am a BJJ white belt, because it’s true. I believe BJJ and judo are the same sport with different emphasis. BJJ is 20% standing and 80% on the ground, whereas judo is 80% standing and 20% on the ground. It’s all the same to me.

- Which fighter’s style had the biggest influence on you when you moved from judo to MMA? Perhaps Karo Parisyan or Rick Hawn?

Actually, Fedor is the fighter I try to emulate the most. I study his videos and try to be just as explosive and just as smooth transitioning from standing to ground.

- How much of an effect does the discipline of judo have on you in life and in fighting?

Judo taught me that I am capable of anything. No matter how favored my opponent is to win, or how injured or sick I could be, I can mentally push past anything and be victorious. My mom used to always tell me, “No one has the right to beat you.” I never would have learned that if it wasn’t for judo.

- You will face Julia Budd for Strikeforce on November 18. She is a good striker. Please provide your thoughts on the fight and list what you think is key to victory.

I think the key to victory will be to force her to play my game, which is in the clinch and on the ground. I am used to fighting people who try to keep me at a distance and only strike with me, whereas she has never faced anyone like me before. One advantage to having so little cage time is that my opponents don’t really know that much about me. I am sure I will be much more prepared than she will.

- How much longer do you think you will compete until you are ready to fight for a championship?

I would like to have 6 or so pro fights before I make a run for the 145lbs title. The thing is, a fight against Cris would be the most important of my career, and though I know I am capable of winning that fight today, I want to be at my absolute peak, as I would for an Olympic Games, when that fight happens.

People forget I have only been doing MMA for one year and have only a little over 3 minutes of experience in the cage. I am improving every day and still feel like I can keep getting better. When my management and coaches say it’s time, we’ll take the fight.

- Please leave a message for the fans, both the English-speaking and in Japan, about your fighting career and future.

Well…here’s a quote from Will Rogers: “Women are not the weak, frail little flowers that they are advertised. There has never been anything invented yet, including war, that a man would enter into, that a woman wouldn’t, too."

And here’s a quote from me: DEMAND WOMEN’S MMA!

Big thanks to Robert Sargent  (MMA Rising) for interview arrangement and English editing.

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