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The Physics of a UFC Fighter so Fast, She Might Just Be Bionic

Two words: kinetic energy

(RICARDO MORAES/Reuters/Corbis)
smithsonian.com

UFC fighter “Rowdy” Ronda Rousey is well-known for her speedy victories, regularly taking her opponents out in less than a minute. Her bout with Bethe Correia on August 1 ended after just 34 seconds when Rousey knocked out her previously undefeated opponent. But that’s not even her quickest victory — just a few months earlier, Rousey bested fellow bantamweight fighter Cat Zingano with an armbar in just 14 seconds. What's her secret? Simple physics, reports Wired’s Rhett Allain.

In the 11 blink-and-you-missed-it battles leading up to Saturday’s fight, Rousey won with an average of 90 percent of the scheduled bout time remaining, Andrew Flowers reports for FiveThirtyEight. This is what makes her stick out from the MMA crowd: overall MMA fights are lasting longer and longer as Rousey’s fights get shorter.

It all comes down to the number of strikes Rousey connects over the course of a match. Allain writes that on average, “Rowdy” Rousey lands a hit every 3.27 seconds. If she were to keep that pace up for an entire five-minute round, she would land almost 100 strikes by the time the bell rang. At that speed, facing the amount of kinetic energy packed by each of Rousey’s punches would be like taking two textbooks to the face every three seconds. Try standing up under that barrage.

Rousey’s reputation for power and speed is so well-known that some male MMA fighters are afraid to face her. Forget the Hulk: if the Avengers need help saving the world, they should draft Rousey instead.

About Danny Lewis

Danny Lewis is a multimedia journalist working in print, radio, and illustration. He focuses on stories with a health/science bent and has reported some of his favorite pieces from the prow of a canoe. Danny is based in Brooklyn, NY.

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