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Monday, February 25, 2013

No Holds Barred: Zee Vjesalicu on Ronda Rousey and Women in MMA 

(Photo: Esther Lin/Strikeforce)

On this edition of No Holds Barred, host Eddie Goldman speaks with women's MMA pioneer Zee Vjesalicu.

With a background in judo and Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, Zee Vjesalicu turned to MMA in the 1990s, won the International Fighting Championships' women's light-heavyweight title, and had a record of 7-0 with seven submissions (and one no contest) before retiring as a fighter. Along with Becky Levi, Zee is one of the true pioneers of women's MMA in North America. She now lives in Brazil, where she trains people in self-defense and protection, including professionals in that field.

Zee also still follows MMA, and watched Saturday night's fight between Ronda Rousey and Liz Carmouche at UFC 157, won by the unbeaten Rousey by first-round arm bar. Based on what she saw, while she is impressed with Rousey, she believes that she can be beaten.

"I think anybody can," she said in this interview, which was recorded by Skype Sunday. "The thing is, you got to study the videotape. You got to sit down, you got to pick apart all the videotapes. Everything I've seen, is, she rushes in, she gets you around the head, she hip tosses you, she gets on top of you, and she arm bars you." Key to defeating her, then, is "if you can defend the takedown."

Zee also stressed that there is a bad tendency for women fighters to be judged on their looks and not on their talent as athletes and fighters. "If I want to see a beauty contest. then I go to watch Miss America," she said.

We also discussed her career as a fighter, why a fight with the much bigger Becky Levi never happened, whether she would even be booked to fight today if she were still fighting, how a good judo player could beat Ronda Rousey, how she would train Liz Carmouche, the buildup of Ronda Rousey, and much more.

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