A veteran of WMMA, Tara LaRosa has a keen insight on the beginning of women’s bouts in the UFC, and what the promotion will need to do in the future.
LaRosa (Twitter: @TaraLaRosa) is a 24-fight veteran of the sport, who’s professional MMA debut was in April 2002. She’s won four titles in four different promotions in two separate weight classes – bantamweight and flyweight. She won gold medals, three apiece, between the Naga Grappling World Championships and the FILA Grappling World Championships, plus two silver medals in the ADCC’s. She’s competed around the world and fought some of the best women’s MMA has to offer over the years.
Needless to say, LaRosa knows mixed martial arts.
On Saturday, UFC 157 will take place at the Honda Center in Anaheim, Calif., and history will be made when Ronda Rousey puts her UFC women’s bantamweight title on the line against Liz Carmouche. Rousey is an overwhelming favorite in the inaugural women’s UFC match, and as much as LaRosa likes Carmouche, she’s going with the safe bet on this fight.
“Rousey is getting better and better,” LaRosa told Jason Kelly and Joe Rizzo on MMA DieHards Radio on the MMA DieHards Radio Network. “Her overall skills are increasing. I don’t see her losing this; I see her pulling off an armbar. If Liz gets too close at all, and if Liz doesn’t get too close, Rousey is going to play the distance and make it happen.
“Carmouche is a very powerful person. Striking and grappling, she’s specifically very powerful. That’s not something you want to play around with, so I think Rousey understands that and she’s probably going to try to end it early. I think she’s going to be successful.”
LaRosa said she thinks Carmouche is good overall, but based on her past performances, Rousey’s arsenal is something she can’t envision “GirlRilla” avoiding.
The fighter to dethrone Rousey, in LaRosa’s opinion, must possess a grappling ability that surpasses the majority of other combatants. There are various highly touted grapplers in WMMA, but who is the one that could stop the undefeated Rousey?
“I’d be pushing for Marloes Coenen,” LaRosa said. “That’s kind of who I think has a real good chance at taking it, but (the) old-school Marloes. Marloes from back in the day, I think could do it. I think old-school Tara LaRosa could do it. I know people like to talk about Miesha (Tate) has a lot of grappling experience, but she really doesn’t. It would be very interesting if Kyra Gracie got into MMA, seriously. That could be a really interesting match-up right there. Sara McMann is a hopeful, but I don’t think Sara could evade the armbar for three rounds. Her wrestling is good, but I don’t know. Shayna Baszler might be able to pull it off, there’s another one. Alexis Davis might be able to do it, she’s so scrappy. She’s really good on the ground.
“The whole thing is getting to the ground without falling into that armbar. And that’s the whole thing, it’s like how a really good wrestler can shoot and re-shoot. Ronda can throw you and armbar, if you get out of it and you’re in that position, she’s got another one coming for you right after it. I don’t know, but yeah, I think I would go with Alexis Davis or Marloes Coenen or Shayna.”
Pressed to narrow it to one, LaRosa made her decision.
“(Davis) got better and better, even since I fought her. She was really good when I fought her, her ground was really good. I got stuck in her triangle-(choke) for the better part of the second round. She’s relentlessly tough, too. She just keeps coming, constantly and constantly.”
With Cris “Cyborg” Santos, the opponent many fans wanted for Rousey, signed to Invicta FC and refusing to fight at bantamweight, there is an idea that a Strikeforce title rematch might be in the air for Rousey in the UFC.
Tate relinquished her Strikeforce belt when Rousey submitted her in March 2012, but she lasted longer than anyone has in the cage with “Rowdy.” Even though, it was only 4:27 into Round 1, Tate gave Rousey the most competition the champ has had to date.
Tate makes her UFC debut against Cat Zingano at “The Ultimate Fighter 17 Finale.” If Tate is victorious, it could possibly set up a rematch against Rousey, but LaRosa doesn’t think “Cupcake” will even get that far.
“(Tate’s) going to lose,” LaRosa said. “Cat is pretty damn good. She’s not as experienced, but Miesha doesn’t use her experience. With Cat versus Miesha, I think Cat is going to out-strike her. Miesha is just kind of dumb. This is a girl that tried to wrestle Sara McMann in a grappling tournament. That is the stupidest thing in the whole world, ever. I really don’t even know what she was trying to do with Rousey, she was trying to wrestle or judo her or whatever, but it sure as hell didn’t work. She ain’t that bright.”
With Rousey, Carmouche, Tate, McMann, Davis, Zingano and others on the UFC roster, the promotion’s introduction of WMMA appears to be set. However, with only one weight division of women in the UFC, LaRosa can foresee problems.
But she knows a solution.
“There are girls in the UFC, right now, that could make 125 (pounds),” LaRosa said. “If some of these chicks happen to lose or become (fan) favorites, would they open a 125-pound division in the UFC? They’re going to run out of fights if they don’t. If they want to do at least one women’s fight a month, with all the infinite shows that they do, they’re going to run out of fights.”
Spoken like a true veteran.