At UFC 184 in Los Angeles, CA, Saturday night, Ronda Rousey will come face to face with her biggest threat in the octagon thus far in the form of Cat Zingano. Make no mistake: for once, the hype is real when it comes to an opponent marketed as the “greatest threat” or “toughest test” — and it should make for an exciting night. “Alpha” Cat Zingano is everything you’d want for an opponent of Rousey: strong, well-rounded, with excellent striking and impressive power for the division. She also has a ton of heart, which she has shown inside and outside of the ring.

Yet despite that, Ronda Rousey is, well, Ronda Rousey. Miles ahead of the rest of the division, at least to date. Expected to win by such a landslide that the fight itself is, to many, merely a formality.

That, of course, is anything but the case, something that Rousey herself is well aware of. Public perception simply isn’t reality, but it’s hard to sell casual fans on anything else.

The fact remains, however, that Cat Zingano can upset here. She probably has the best chance of anyone since Miesha Tate, and arguably a better skill set to match up against Rousey.

What does she need to do to win? Lets look at three key factors.

Set the Pace

Ronda Rousey sets a furious pace in her fights. She has come out of the gate absolutely on fire in her last couple of bouts. Alexis Davis was pummelled in just sixteen seconds. Sara McMann in just a minute six.

That can be overwhelming for many fighters. What Cat Zingano must accomplish in order to be successful at UFC 184 is setting her own pace. Going head to head with Rousey when she’s fired up is a bad idea; instead, Zingano should look to create distance, keep moving, and use strong footwork to make the fight her own. It may not exactly be a crowd-pleasing move, but it could be a fight-changing one.

She also needs to weather the expected early storm, and find her rhythm.

Keep The Fight Standing

Going to the ground with Ronda Rousey means putting yourself in range of her patented arm-bar, and that’s just not a good idea. Ask any of the opponents in her first eight fights, all of which she won by way of that particular submission (including wins over Miesha Tate twice). In short, Rousey remains a huge threat on the ground, and going there with the Olympic Judo medal winner is simply a bad idea.

That means Zingano needs to avoid her many trips, take-downs, and judo tosses. No easy feat, but with the right game plan, Zingano has the striking ability to keep her at bay. She’s also hopefully been working on take-down defence, and escapes, but it’s not easy to mimic Rousey’s tosses in camp.

Win The Striking Battle

Make no mistake, Ronda Rousey is a greatly improved striker. Alexis Davis could tell you that. That said, most of what we have seen from her has come in explosive flurries. These sort of short, high-volume bursts don’t really show how good a boxer Ronda Rousey is. They don’t show how she’d perform in a prolonged striking battle. That’s what Cat Zingano needs to do here: she needs to test Rousey in the one area she appears to be weakest.

Will all that be enough? There’s no question that Rousey is one of the most dominant champions in the UFC. We’ll find out Saturday night if that changes!

About The Author

Senior Staff Writer

Covering the sport of MMA from Ontario, Canada, Jay Anderson has been writing for various publications covering sports, technology, and pop culture since 2001. Jay holds an Honours Bachelor of Arts degree in English from the University of Guelph, and a Certificate in Leadership Skills from Humber College under the Ontario Management Development Program. When not slaving at the keyboard, he can be found in the company of his dog, a good book, or getting lost in the woods.