UFC wants to know how to beat Ronda. I think I know the answer.

A few months ago, this photo was posted on the UFC instagram. with the following question:Put yourself in the Octagon against the champ @rondarousey. What is going through your mind and what would be your game plan? #UFCHotSeat
I think I have the answer. I know that is a very bold statement. And, for the record, I would bet half of my life savings that Ronda will retire undefeated. She is the best. She will go down as not only the greatest female fighter at 135lbs, a silver medalist in the olympics, and maybe the most dominant athlete of all time; but a phenomenal teacher, a role model, and an inspiration for young athletes all over the world.
Her success story is incredible. She has earned everything that she has and more. I can not think of a fighter who I love and respect more. I will never miss a Ronda Rousey fight.

So, this is all for fun . . . but I think I know how someone can beat her.

My answer, and in my opinion the only plausible answer, if there ever was one . . . is, pull guard. Yeah, pull guard. Why have we not seen this game plan implemented by anybody? Well, unfortunately it is because there are no high level jiu jitsu females in the UFC, yet.

If you can get some Mackenzie Dern type character

or a Kyra Gracie

and they were to pull guard and break her posture, they could finish Ronda.

Granted, I think this is a long shot. I would not say that Mackenzie or Kyra could or would beat Ronda. I just think that going for the submission against her is the best chance anyone has. The best defense, is a good offense. I also think that if you start grappling on the feet with Ronda you are starting at a disadvantage. The master of the “rubber guard” Eddie Bravo has been talking about pulling guard in MMA for years. In a speech from 2010, he cites a guy named Paul Sass, who as you will see wants to fight off his back.

Eddie talks about pulling guard as it if is the last of the remaining items on the dessert menu. “There are only three things you can do in an MMA fight. You can stand and bang. You can try and clinch and take the guy down to get on top and pound or submit. Or…you can pull guard”. “If you are getting beat in the stand-up, and you can’t take the guy down because he has better wrestling, your only option is to pull guard”. Eddie continues that “Pulling guard could also be your main objective like Paul Sass. If you are going to pull guard, you have to do so in a way that makes it an effective strategy. You can’t be just ‘have a decent guard’, you’ve got to be wicked off your back”.

Eddie talks about the way to do this effectively as well. Taking a deep shot at a single or a double leg, and when the opponent sprawls, drop to butterfly or 3/4 guard. He cites Andre Galvao who would use this technique to get to 1/2 guard (in MMA fights). He also cites Noguerra who was able to mitigate the reach of Tim Silva and win by pulling half guard, sweeping Silva and winning by submission. Demian Maia and plenty of others have won MMA fights by pulling guard.

It has to be an option worth exploring. If you enter a jiu jitsu match against a former judo champ, or a collegiate wrestler you are going to want to pull guard.

In an MMA fight, pulling guard can be dangerous. You might think that you are just skipping the first part of the ground and pound and just letting your opponent get straight to pounding. But if you have a wicked guard, you can control posture and you should be able to minimise the strikes that you take. And one more thing, Ronda is not armbarring anybody from inside their guard. So, if an opponent can defend punches and break her posture, maybe they catch her in something, sweep, or work to get her back.

Let’s look at Chael Sonnen. He is one of the best fighters of all time. He took down and pounded Anderson Silva for 5 rounds. But, Silva caught him in the triangle. Then, look at Chael at Metamoris against Galvao? He refused to go on his back when Galvao was getting on top when he could have at least recovered half guard.


But, he gave up his back, because he’s a wrestler and playing off of his back was not going to happen. The alternative is that he gave up his back, and he got choked.

Ronda has the same instinct from judo. She is not going to be put on her back. If she is defending a sweep and refuses to play guard against a high level jiu jitsu fighter, she will get her back taken.

On June 20th of this year, Jessica Penne was pressed against the cage and being bombarded with punches and kicks from the 115lb champion Joanna Jedrzejczyk. Toward the end of the 4th round, Penne was gassed. She had tried time and time again to bring the fight to the ground where she could work her superior grappling. And at that point she did pull guard. And, I think that if she had done so earlier in the round, she would have given herself a chance at setting up attacks. It was just too little, too late.

When I saw that she had missed an opportunity to change the direction that the fight would ultimately go, my thoughts turned to Firas Zahabi. His technique was ripe for the picking. Firas Zahabi (owner and head instructor at Tristar Gym in Montreal) recently began releasing instructional videos on the Tristar YouTube Channel. Most notably is a multi-part series on pulling “web guard”. This technique is best implemented from an overhook transitioning to a headlock. Unfortunately for opponents of Ronda Rousey, this is also the position that she is looking for to throw you and transition to kesa-gatame.

But, Firas demonstrates very clearly how this guard pulling technique can be used effectively in an MMA fight.

This is a great technique worth exploring. But until we start seeing high level female jiu jitsu fighters transition to MMA, Ronda will remain on top. Many people will disagree with me and say that striking and keeping her at a distance is the only way to win. But Ronda’s striking is quickly getting better.  Her head movement is very fast, and all she needs to do is slip one punch and she is inside, clinching, and throwing. But if there is one slight chance that someone has of beating her, I think that it will be from using the third option, pulling guard.


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