It only took women’s bantamweight champion Amanda Nunes 48 seconds to bring former titleholder Ronda Rousey’s return to the Octagon to a sudden and brutal end at UFC 207 on Dec. 30. Nunes used her boxing to stun and finish Rousey.
Prior to losing to Holly Holm at UFC 193, Rousey had been able to overwhelm her opponents with aggression. She charged them with a flurry of punches to get to the clinch where she’s the most dangerous. Knockout wins over Sara McMann, Alexis Davis, and Bethe Correia gave Rousey confidence in her striking ability. That confidence was shattered by Holm and Nunes.
With back-to-back knockout losses, Rousey is at a crossroads and many believe she needs to make big changes to her fight preparation, including former UFC welterweight champion Matt Serra.
“She’s always, in the past, punched her way into the clinch through girls. Now, obviously from the last two fights, people are catching on,” Serra said during the most recent edition of the UFC Unfiltered podcast.
Serra believes Rousey isn’t sparring correctly for an MMA fight.
“You fight the way that you spar. That’s a given. There was no Plan B. There was no, ‘I’ve got to circle, I’ve got to get on the bike a little bit because I’m stunned.’ She was still trying to get a hold of her. These are all things that need to be worked out in sparring,” he said. “She needs correct sparring, smart sparring.”
Since the loss to Nunes, Rousey’s coach, Edmond Tarverdyan has been taking a beating worse than the one Rousey suffered at UFC 207. While Serra says that he likes Tarverdyan, he questioned his coaching.
“The majority of her sparring should be geared toward mixed martial arts sparring,” said Serra. “Use the strikes to set in the level changes to get that clinch. I don’t see any of this after the Holly Holm fight. You’d think this is something they would implement.
“I think he means well, but I feel he’s just getting her ready for a stand-up fight type of thing. That’s what it sounds like to me,” added Serra. “I still think Ronda is awesome, but I feel that there’s a better way to play to her strengths.”