Fergus Ryan: Holm sweet Holm – Early Christmas present for Holly as Ronda Rousey crushed at UFC 193
This week’s MMA column looks back at historic UFC 193 in Australia and a changing of the guard in the ladies bantamweight division.
UFC colour commentator Joe Rogan called it the biggest upset in UFC history and you can’t really disagree with him. While many have come out since the victory saying ‘they knew Holm could do it’; not many said it out loud before the fight.
The main reason Ronda Rousey was such a strong favourite prior to the UFC 193 ladies bantamweight title fight was the manner in which she had romped out to a 12-0 MMA record. Of her twelve fights before facing Holm, eleven of them had been first round finishes and eight of those had been within the first minute.
You could argue that prior to round 1 at UFC 193, Rousey hadn’t lost a minute let alone a round of any MMA fight she had been involved in.
Her armbar submissions had become the stuff of legend. When you couple her performances with the UFC’s relentless marketing of the athlete, you start to believe the hype.
If MMA has shown us one thing it’s that at some point everyone loses. There has not been a dominant champion at the highest level of MMA competition who has retired undefeated.
In recent years we’ve seen fighters who were considered "different class", as Jimmy Magee would say, fade away. Anderson Silva was considered the GOAT – the Greatest of All Time – before he dropped two in a row to Chris Weidman.
UFC president Dana White offered bantamweight champ Renan Barao as a swift replacement to Silva considering he hadn’t lost in nine years only for him then to lose – twice - to new champ TJ Dillashaw.
Now, featherweight champ Jose Aldo is being heralded as the ‘pound for pound’ king though we won’t have to wait too much longer to see if he goes the same way as his countrymen Silva and Barao.
It may be a surprise that Ronda Rousey lost but it shouldn’t be. Mainly, because Holly Holm in an excellent fighter, but also because this is what happens in MMA. Everybody loses at some point.
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Rousey didn’t get caught, she got battered
What has been more surprising than the result is the speed and volume of Rousey apologists who are already talking about how hard Ronda comes back in the rematch.
Why? We didn’t see anything inconclusive. It wasn’t close. It wasn’t that Ronda got caught with a lucky punch in a fight shew was otherwise winning. Why should Rousey get an instant rematch?
Listening to the apologists the reason Rousey lost was seems to have nothing to do with how good Holly Holm was on the night. It was Ronda’s personal life (since it became public that she was dating UFC heavyweight Travis Browne) being brought to the fore front.
Or maybe it was all the media obligations and the pressure of being the biggest name in the UFC.
Or maybe it’s down to her coach and training. Rousey’s coach Edmond Tarverdyan’s has been vocal about his personal problems claiming he hasn’t made any money from coaching the biggest draw on the UFC roster and has filed for bankruptcy. Ronda’s mother, a former judo world champion herself, was quite vocal in the lead up to UFC 193 criticising Tarverdyan saying he is a truly horrible person.
None of this contributed positively and may have factored into her mental state on the night. However, there are also factors that can’t be denied that made Holm better on the night.
Holm hits hard, very hard. The first punch she landed in the first minute changed the facial expression for Rousey for the remainder of the fight. Rousey was bleeding from the first exchange and needed to keep her mouth open due to the lacerations inside her mouth.
Much has been made of Holm’s foot work and ‘cage craft’. She was matador-esque in drawing Rousey in and then skipping away to the other side of the Octagon.
Critics have gone as far as saying Rousey’s footwork is poor, which is not true.
Judo players have fantastic footwork, especially at the elite level like Rousey. However, the basis of footwork in judo is to lessen space and create a base for leverage and torque to send your opponent through the air. Rousey has excellent footwork in this regard.
Holm also has excellent footwork. As a striker with long limbs her footwork is to create a range where maintain distance yet land some offense. She did this with consummate ease at UFC 193 and made Rousey’s footwork look pedestrian.
I believe Rousey was rocked for the early exchanges giving Holm a massive advantage, which she capitalised on.
Even in the grappling Holm prevailed. Though she gave up a marginal takedown to Rousey in the first, she managed to get back to her feet quickly and land a takedown of her own later in the fight when Rousey closed the distance.
Holly Holm was better everywhere.
It’s (probably) on!
While I disagree with the need for an immediate rematch it does look like it is going to happen.
Personally, I don’t see a rematch ending any differently. Holm is a bigger, more tactical, more athletic fighter with serious knockout power.
If the UFC fast track Rousey into a rematch and she loses again… what’s left for the Rousey marketing machine?
Why not give her two fights, against Miesha Tate and Cat Zingano, to rebuild her brand. If she’s victorious set the rematch up.
In the meantime, let’s give Holly Holm all the attention a new champion deserves. She earned it and shocked the world doing so.
Elsewhere at UFC 194
Polish striking ace Joanna Jedrzejczyk took a one sided victory against the tough Canadian opponent Valerie Letourneau to retain the ladies straw-weight title for the third time.
Èn route to victory Jedrzejczyk landed 220 significant strikes setting a new UFC title fight record and may well have broken her hand in the process.
On any other night we would have spent time spinning superlatives about Jedrzejczyk’s systematic dismantling of a very game Letourneau. But Holly Holm had different ideas.
Jedrzejczyk is Europe’s third UFC champion after Dutchman Bas Rutten and Russian Andrei Arlovski formerly held the heavyweight title.
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