Column: Koco’s Corner #12 – (The Three Combat Sports “Stars of the Week” of 8/12 to 8/18 2012)
In ice hockey, the three stars of a match are the three best players as chosen by a third party, with the first star considered the best of the three players, akin to the man of the match in other sports. So once a week on Koco’s Corner I will choose the three stars of the week from all of the Combat Sports.
1. Jake Varner (Wrestling)
Varner realized a lifelong dream when he capped a phenomenal performance by winning an Olympic gold medal at 96 kg/211.5 lbs. on Sunday afternoon before a sellout crowd of 6,500 fans at ExCeL North Arena 2.
Varner, a California native, took control early to sweep Ukraine’s Valeri Andritsev 1-0, 1-0 in the Olympic gold-medal finals.
Varner scored takedowns early in both periods – on an ankle pick in the first period and on a pushout in the second period – to reach the pinnacle of his sport.
Olympic Champion Jake Varner after the 2012 Olympics
2. Ronda Rousey (MMA)
The Ronda Rousey hype train has seen its subject ascend from the Challengers series to the ESPN Body Issue cover and a two-part special on Showtime. On Saturday night it made a stop in San Diego’s Valley ViewCasino Center, where Rousey defended her title for the first time since ripping it away from wrestler Miesha Tate in March.
Ronda Rousey vs. Sarah Kaufman
Ronda Rousey has a game plan that’s been in place since her amateur bouts: She bulls her opponents against the fence, throws them to the mat using her Olympic-medal-winning judo skills, and armbars them. Usually in the first minute, but always in the first round. That rinse-wash-repeat style has earned her not just a perfect record, but a title to boot.
At Strikeforce: Rousey vs. Kaufman, Rousey faced another championship-caliber opponent and the first with pedigreed standup — former titleholder Sarah Kaufman, a 15-1 striker with 10 knockout wins. Kaufman’s plan was to force Rousey to stand, using body shots to keep her at bay and take her off her game.
Here’s what happened instead: Rousey bulled Kaufman against the fence and, 12 seconds in, threw her to the mat using her Olympic-medal-winning judo skills. She locked on an armbar, content to use the remaining 4 minutes and 48 seconds of the round to break Kaufman’s defensive hold on her own arm. It didn’t take that long, as she isolated the limb and got the tapout in 54 seconds. In doing so, Rousey improved to 6-0 as a pro, handed Kaufman her second loss, and proved that her hype is warranted.
Strikeforce Rousey vs. Kaufman: Ronda Rousey Post-Fight Interview
3. Tatsuhiro Yonemitsu (Wrestling)
Japan won their first male Wrestling gold in 24 years after Tatsuhiro Yonemitsu defeated India’s Sushil Kumar, while the USA took home their second of London 2012.
Kumar, a railway worker from Delhi, was looking to become India’s first-ever Olympic champion wrestler.
But Yonemitsu overcame him in the final of the 66kg Freestyle Wrestling 1-0 3-1 to record a historic win for Japan at the ExCeL.