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Nunes vs. Rousey Fight Analysis: What Nunes Got Right By Mark Hatmaker

This nit-picky pulling apart of the fight is coin of the realm this week as such post hoc ergo propter hocarmchair quarterbacking is easy pickings—we’re all experts once the deed is done.

Or as a Viking might say:

Many are wise after the event.” From Fljotsdale Saga

With that said, I throw my rear-view mirror hat into the ring and offer these observations from the flip-side. There might be more to learn from what Nunes got right than from what Rousey got wrong on that night. [And lest we forget, no matter how much went wrong for Rousey, she has performed tip-top on many an occasion.]

[I have idiosyncratically numbered my Six Points in the Comanche Warrior manner.]


Pre-fight. Nunes appears to have gotten inside the head of a fighter who values getting inside the heads of others. Rousey has placed such an emphasis on mind-games and attitude it would seem to reveal that there might be a commensurate valuing of that strategy in herself.

Any fighter coming off of a devastating loss [Rousey vs. Holm] might best return to the game asap if only to prove to the self, “Hey, you did this before, you can do this again.” Lengthy stays away from a game after a loss allow for more rumination time, more time to turn the “What went wrongs” “Can I do this?” hamster wheel over and over again.

A feeder fight to shake these doubts might have been the wise course, but it is not the one taken and Nunes kept up a conversation that fed into these doubts.


Follow a retreating fighter with an overwhelming attack. Rousey chose linear retreat more often than not, rather than allow the gambits that spurred the retreat to stand in good stead and to sniff the blood in the water, Nunes opted to follow the linear retreating vacuum knowing full well that a linear retreat seldom offers anything of noted power in opposition. It’s physics and well-played by Nunes.


There is a boxing maxim: “Hit what’s easy to hit” and in this case it was the head of Rousey. She exhibited “head-on-a-stick” posturing and Nunes had little need to probe to “find” targets. She capitalized on what was there.


To really maximize the power-hand, we need to get a fighter to circle to that side so we can throw with bad intent and reap the returns of the colliding fighter who steps into the onslaught of the shortened path. Nunes showed no hesitation. When her opponent appeared in the path of her power hand, she let that hand fly with zero compunction.


Study Your Opponent’s Strengths and Have An Answer. Nunes was fully aware that this long-dominant former champ capitalizes the high-clinch with precision. The single time the clinch gambit was offered, Nunes pit-posted, shucked, and turned with no hesitation.

Why? Because she’d studied her opponent. She knew it was coming and she had an answer.


Another boxing maxim “Half a punch is worth less than no punch” or sometimes you hear it as “Half a punch is no punch at all.”

It can be wise to probe with that jab to get your measure, but Nunes found her measure early and proceeded to throw every shot with swing for the fences bad intentions. We could quibble with form and defensive hand placement, but why the hell would we do that in this case? A resounding victory does not deserve such nit-picking, leave that to her next opponent’s training camp.

In short, we have a story of an aggressive smart fighter exploiting every mistake she could. Making the story about what one fighter did to lose a fight, in my mind, diminishes what another fighter did to win that fight.

Kudos to Nunes. And here’s to former champ Rousey finding her way.

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51 thoughts on “Nunes vs. Rousey Fight Analysis: What Nunes Got Right By Mark Hatmaker”

  1. First of all, there’s been too much fawning over Rousey. Her head got too big so she got prideful. The way she tries to bully other fighters getting in their space at weigh-ins with that mean pout she always does to intimidate them is so ridiculous and unnecessary. I’m really surprised people can’t see this…but I guess they do and ignore it.
    This is really a good analysis of the fight. I didn’t see the fight on PPV but I did the YouTube clips of it. Wow, just what I wanted to happen…Rousey got “clocked”…again.( meaning she got her “clock cleaned” again. Nunes the victor. I knew if Nunes could hit her hard enough, it would throw her off her game and ‘rock her world’…woot!

  2. As far as I could tell, that was not a fight. It was a beating. Standing directly in front of Nunes with no lateral movement and no head movement, bad idea. I figured Nunes would win, just because Ronda took a year off and returned with no warm up fights. Another bad idea. I hope that she retires. It’s not good to keep taking head shots like that. She’s young. She can do other things.

  3. if she studied more goshin jitsu kata- or nage-no-kata or the forms of old and tons of uchikomi or randori rather than act
    like a boxer she is a judoka act like one even if your not whereing a judo-gi-tia subaki (body positioning) is important
    why can she not wait till punch comes in then morote clip or as a punch comes in let come and do like kata-gatame standing
    this traps arm breaks it and throws the oppent-did judo 50 years jujitsu 20

  4. Very well broke down into specifics really informative you are also right when Nunez was throwing a lot of her punches she left her defensive hand down but by then Ronda Rousey was in bad shape it didn’t matter at that point in time this article was very informative and well-studied very much appreciated keep up the good work. Thank you

  5. Good insights… Kinda Common Sense, but Good nevertheless!
    Personally, I believe that Rousey should not have returned so soon. She just was not ready! Not to take anything from Nune; just say’n!

  6. Thanks Mark for another breakdown of the fight, commenting how the winner did what she did to win. Most of the other comments were of what happened to Rousey. Sure everyone wanted to see Rousey make a come back, but, it looks like she doubts herself now.

  7. straight predatory comments about action that needed to be taken in order to attain victory — no disspation of attack will result in defeat of ur opponent

  8. My brother in law was one of Rhonda’s trainers at the US Olympic Judo camp over several camp seasons. His comment was that, from his perspective as a world class judo judge, she came in poorly prepared to go up against a nearly pure puncher.
    (He judges judo competitions around the world.)
    He was furious at her trainers and handlers.

    Poor prep, and poor selection for next fight.

  9. Masterfully crafted analysis, thank you sir- I hear ALOT of after fight talk, and it’s mostly based on the surface value of whether or not people are a fan of the particular individual in question. It should be based on performance pure and simple, sometimes you eat the bear and sometimes the bear eats you. unfortunately, In Ms. Rousey’s case the bear set up camp in her head. Much respect for her accomplishments.

  10. Rousey had a doubting look on her face as she walked down the isle. Shook or touched hooves with her apponent which I never saw before. She looked whipped when she entered the ring.

  11. Many thanks for your WISE thoughts and phrases, they’ll forever remain embedded in my brain housing group, to be used in future situations (of any kind).

  12. This was an interesting lesson. Understand your attacker’s weaknesses as soon as they become apparent. Don’t try to return punches, gouges, kicks etc. without putting everything you have onto it. You may only get one opportunity to land a crippling blow allowing your safe retreat.

  13. Rhonda abandoned her game and tried to be a boxer. She should have stayed with the Judo style that made her a champion. Every time Nunes swung, Rhonda should have grabbed her arm and thrown her down and proceeded to fight the ground game, and applying her famous arm bar.

  14. Well with all the boxers she knows you would think she would learn a little about boxing…such as head movement, holding her hands high, lateral movement and angles… I’m sure Mike Tyson would teach her some of that considering the way he talks about her…but I see the main reason for her failure as being struck by the Hollywood bug… no longer being hungry makes everyone easy pickings… I wish her luck in whatever road she chooses…

  15. I agree, Rousey did not have the mind set to win that night. I think she lost before she got in the cage. Which takes nothing away from Nunes.

  16. Outstanding inside look into the dynamic of a fight. But that’s probably on the account of a certain Comanche fighting knowledge.

  17. Mark, your analysis is spot on, Rhonda shouldn’t have attempted the big prize her first fight back.
    I wish her all the best, kudos to Nunez.

  18. Love Rousey, but Nunes knew after the first punch it was over. She knew what &where she was going to be or do. Rousey would have been smarter to fought earlier with a lesser opponent to gain confidence, bad mistake thinking about Nunes as a comeback without changes in technique & approaches to this fight!

  19. Rousey might have lost the battle but she certainly won the big prize. How many million was it again?? A sceptic might even think it was all part of a prearrangement. There was no practical reason why she couldn’t have forced a ground fight that would have assured her an easy victory with the skills she has to grapple.

  20. It is my opinion that Rousey should have stayed with the arm bar strategy as is was working very well for her until she tried to stand in front of a boxer twice. If it is working for you don’t change it !!! What is your coach thinking with trying something new at the point of your career when you are on top ? A person that leads another into any situation where you are put in jeopardy for first and foremost your health and second your career needs to have a hard look at him. Your body can only take a beating so long and something will give, we can condition our body well but it breaks very easy. Your arm bar strategy was working very well and not so much negative contact for you Rousey, when you have the skills to find and remain in the sweet spot, stay there it’s working. Don’t let people other trainers change things or experiment with you. Thank you for letting me voice my opinion and please take care.

  21. Thank you for the post-fight analysis. I was unable to see the fight, so I appreciate hearing about it, along with your analysis.