by Kevin D’Hooge
This past weekend Holly Holm defeated the UFC Women’s Bantamweight Champion, Ronda Rousey. It was perhaps the biggest upset in UFC history.
The knockout sent shockwaves through the whole world. Ronda has eclipsed the sport of mixed martial arts. Non-MMA fans tune in when she’s on tv. She’s the #1 household name in the sport.
Before falling to Holm, she was widely regarded as the most fearsome unarmed woman on the planet. She was legendary for her record (and arm) breaking victories. Her persona was larger than life. She is a movie star, a New York Times bestselling author, the cover athlete for the new UFC video game, and a highly marketable star, who graces numerous commercials and billboards.
She was never supposed to lose. Ronda’s book My Fight/Your Fight documents in detail the excruciating means in which she takes to be perfect.
Rousey’s a self-described perfectionist that doesn’t take kindly to losing. With that being said, her losses in judo competitions made her stronger and drove her to pursue success.
So how did Ronda fall short this time? I would argue that she didn’t. Holm was just better.
Holly Holm dominated the spacing in the match. She used kicks to create distance and to keep Ronda at bay. When Ronda decided to engage in the clinch (definition according to Bloody Elbow: the position where fighters are standing but have grabbed ahold of each other), little did she know that this area was equally as strong for Holm.
Let us not forget that Holm was a World Champion boxer in 3 different weight classes. The clinch is all too familiar a position for boxers. Holm had an answer for Rousey’s judo throws and grapple attempts. It was the little things that helped Holm win the fight.
Rousey has also never faced an opponent as good as Holm before. To be frank, nobody knew just how good Holm was as an MMA fighter. She had knocked out opponents in other MMA organizations, but never against the best of the best competitors in UFC. Holm’s two previous UFC fights went the distance and were ultimately decided by the judge’s scorecards. One win was unanimous while the other was a split decision victory.
Ronda’s chin had never been tested to this extent before. In her previous 12 MMA fights, she faced 63 significant strikes. On Saturday night Holly got off 38 significant strikes.
Overall, Holly fought the most complete fight in Women’s Bantamweight history. She is the deserving champion.
For Ronda, the story is different. She can no longer retire undefeated. She’s no longer the baddest woman on the planet. Most importantly, she is no longer holding the gold.
She could lean on excuses. Maybe she did one too many interviews leading up to the fight. Maybe she was considering her next film role. Maybe she was thinking of her next WWE segment. Maybe her heart wasn’t in it. Maybe she wasn’t prepared enough. Maybe she was surrounded by too many yes men that inflated her ego.
It is interesting to note that Ronda’s head coach is Edmond Tarverdyan. He’s a boxing coach. It’s like the equivalent of Bill Belichick being the coach of the New England Patriots; Bill’s a defensive mastermind, but the Patriots are known for high-scoring offenses.
Edmond’s specialty of boxing is just 1 factor in MMA. And guess what, the one front he specializes in so much is where Ronda ultimately failed. His coaching throughout the match can best be described as lackadaisical.
Ronda has never been one for instructions though. She prides herself on in-fight adjustments.
If Ronda wants the belt back, she will have to think long and hard about her fighting style, her game plan, and her coach for that matter. Edmond seems like a good guy, but is he really the best coach for Ronda at this stage? She will have to make that decision. She hasn’t been afraid of cutting ties with coaches in the past.
UFC’s golden child isn’t anymore. Unfortunately, she seems like just another fighter now. Her aura and swag are gone.
She’s human too. Just like Muhammad Ali, Anderson Silva, Mike Tyson, and Georges St. Pierre.
This loss will only make Ronda stronger. The fear is that UFC may lose business with Ronda’s loss, but I beg to differ.
Legitimate competition is a godsend. The rematch will sell itself. The taste for revenge will be real. When the time comes, we will see Rousey and Holm at their best.