Hype cannot withstand reality when confronted head on. The higher it is propped up, the harder it falls. Perhaps the worst mistake a fighter can make is to believe that hype when it is misplaced and so it goes with Ronda Rousey as she was KOed inside two rounds by reality served at the end of Holly Holm’s strikes.
Perhaps it was after defeating “boxer” Bethe Correia that Rousey bought into the hype of her own punching power. Since then and leading up to this defeat, I have been subjected to video clips of Rousey’s horrendous shadowboxing and soundbites of how she would defeat Floyd Mayweather, the recently retired pound-for-pound king of the rival combat sport that the UFC seems obsessed with diminishing. Indeed, that this fight was made so soon in Holm’s UFC career belies that was meant to be the woman’s version of James Toney vs Randy Couture, but with perhaps more subtlety than Toney’s obvious attempt to get pay regardless of the sacrifice of dignity. I can imagine the script having Rousey armbar her hapless opponent after perhaps half a round of displaying superior MMA-styled boxing skills. It would appear the Preacher’s Daughter did not read that script, or take MMA lessons from James Toney (full respect to his prime boxing skill).
From the weigh-in faceoff it was already visible that Holm had the stature, poise and confidence of the true warrior. UFC faceoffs are interesting in that they have their fighters assume a fighting stance instead of merely a face to face staredown. Rousey stood close and attempted to unsettle Holm by controlling the space. Holm responded with a foreshadowing fist placed on Rousey’s cheek. Rousey would then attempt and fail to remove Holm’s fist and control her arm (more foreshadowing), causing promoter White to step in holding back both fighters. Rousey in near tantrum, Holm in cold-blooded observation.
With the fighters the in the cage and ready to go, Rousey would turn her back on Holm as she stuck her gloves out to “touch em up” before starting. She would pay for that slight. Holm’s schooling of Rousey was masterful. With the southpaw lefts of Pacquiao, the slickness of Pernell Whitaker and the snapping sharp kicks truly her own. Embarrassing a bloody and beaten Rousey over two rounds to finally knock her out with a well placed shin to the former champion’s neck. Lights-out, no chance ever, flawless victory.
True “all time greats” are not outclassed that way. What has been made apparent now is that the Rowdy One was the big fish in a very shallow pool talent-wise. That she lost so completely to Holm does not diminish what she has accomplished in MMA, but demonstrates that MMA (and more specifically Woman’s MMA) is too fresh, too unproven to have its ranks be discussed in the subject of greats. No, in their primes, Anderson Silva could never defeat Roy Jones Jr. Fedor Emelianenko could never defeat Lennox Lewis and Ronda Rousey could never defeat Holly Holm. It’s a numbers game. Boxing has been around far longer, has far more world-level participation, and their champions must accomplish far more before they are heralded on the same level as Rousey was. What was displayed tonight was an expression of that very same equation. A handful of medals in Judo and twelve MMA fights does not equal 33 wins in boxing (full record: 33-2-3) with titles in three weight classes.
What becomes of the UFC now when so much of their war propaganda is centered on a fighter who has just been defeated in such vivid, humiliating fashion? A rematch with Holm at any point now would be disastrous, too complete was the dismantling. I doubt Rousey would return and build up with the same dominance. She has been exposed and the blueprint to beat her has been clearly laid out. Like Gina Carano before her, I expect her to bow out of active combat sooner, rather than later. Her brash air of invinciblity is gone and the UFC can no longer rely on it to boost its promotion. To be fair though, this does make the upcoming fight between a similarly promoted Conor McGregor and current champ Jose Aldo all the more interesting, especially should McGregor lose in similar fashion.
Hopefully the stalwart MMA promotion can abandon that style and realize that they have a legitimate star in their hands. An inclusive champion who doesn’t rely on antagonistic activity out of the octagon. A champion who can connect with fight fans of all combat sports. A champion with the pedigree, experience and skills to truly elevate the very status of MMA itself. Holly “the Preacher’s Daughter” Holm should now be the star of the show and if she rightfully becomes the face of MMA, you can count me now as a fan.