Ronda Rousey (Esther Lin/MMA Fighting)Ronda Rousey: UFC Champion Has Already Locked Up ‘Fighter of the Year’ Trey Downey July 11, 2014 Spotlight We are less than seven full months in to 2014. We have seen our fair share of great fights, events, streaks and performances. About this time of the year is when you could start to put together somewhat of a watch list for all of the end-of-the-year awards. Johny Hendricks vs. Robbie Lawler and Matt Brown vs. Erick Silva would be right there for “Fight of the Year,” and certainly a man like T.J. Dillashaw would be a “Fighter of the Year” candidate at this point. But not so fast, my friends. The 2014 “Fighter of the Year” is already locked up, and it’s not Dillashaw who will take the honor. The award will belong to Ronda Rousey. Yes, I know most outlets who give out these awards give one to a male fighter and another for the top female fighter. Screw those distinctions. Rousey deserves this award regardless of gender or weight class. Rousey is plain and simple the most dominant fighter in all of mixed martial arts right now. She has defended her title twice this year. In doing so, she has spent a whopping one minute and 22 seconds inside the Octagon. Many of the best fighters in the world haven’t even finished one fight that quickly—the current roster of UFC champions beyond Rousey have combined for just five finishes in under 82 seconds in their UFC careers, Anderson Silva has had just two during his UFC tenure and Georges St-Pierre has none. Rousey has not only finished two fights in that small snippet of time, but she has done this on the biggest stage that there is in MMA. She defended her title in quick fashion against two clear-cut No. 1 contenders. Before 2014, a large number of fans and media members wondered if Rousey was a one-trick pony. She had finished every fight in her career via armbar between her 2011 debut and her year-ending title defense against Miesha Tate. This year, though, Rousey has demonstrated her striking prowess by earning two stoppage victories via strikes. At UFC 170, she dismantled Sara McMann with a knee to the body. Then, at UFC 175, she took out Alexis Davis with an overhand right, followed by a hip toss and a barrage of ground-and-pound strikes on the mat. There are even more skeptics out there who will question the level of Rousey’s competition. Most will claim Rousey is just leaps and bounds above any other woman who currently competes in the UFC. Well, of course she is. However, isn’t that where any of the greats reside? When you are a huge favorite, you should go in there and absolutely dominate. How many times have we seen a big favorite get upset or have trouble? It happens. Heck, Ilir Latifi lasted three rounds against Gegard Mousasi. Yet, Rousey doesn’t play around. She goes in there and proves that she deserved to be the favorite heading into the bout. She might be the better fighter by leaps and bounds, but McMann and Davis had earned their title shots. McMann was the first American woman to earn a silver medal in Olympic wrestling, and Davis is a black belt in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu. Rousey dismantled them. Rousey has already locked up the “Fighter of the Year” award, but she still might not be done. There are five months left in 2014, and even with her current injury, there is a good chance we could see Rousey fight one more time before the year is over. It could possibly come against a returning Cat Zingano or a debuting Cristiane “Cyborg” Justino, the only two women on the planet that would even have a remote chance against the champion. If Rousey were to dismantle either of those two opponents, then she wouldn’t just be 2014’s “Fighter of the Year.” Rousey’s 2014 would enter into the upper echelon of the best years by a single fighter in MMA history. Furthermore, it would finally be time to consider Rousey for a spot near the top of the pound-for-pound rankings. The biggest factors in pound-for-pound rankings are pure dominance and how the skills of that fighter could translate to another division. Rousey is near the top of that heap when it comes to both criteria. We’ve already discussed her dominance, but there’s also her ever-evolving skill set. The combination of those things has already landed her in my top five pound-for-pound list. Rousey’s armbar was already there with Dan Henderson’s right hand and Rousimar Palhares’ leg lock as one of the biggest weapons in all of mixed martial arts. Rousey got those fights to the ground with unquestionably the best judo in the sport. She was an Olympian, and those skills have translated beautifully into MMA. Now, Rousey has added superior striking. She is knocking out people in a division where knockouts just don’t happen on a regular basis. If you put that trifecta on any fighter in any division, then they become nearly impossible to beat. Imagine if Cain Velasquez could submit people with ease, or Johny Hendricks could execute a flawless judo throw. They would be at the top of everyone’s list. Rousey has yet to be challenged in the cage. She has dominated every woman that has been placed in front of her, including many of the elite wrestlers, grapplers and strikers the division has to offer. She has done it in multiple ways, not just with her trademark armbar. She is already the biggest star in the sport. 2014 is the year of the “Rowdy” one, and it won’t be long before we are calling her the best fighter in the world, period.