Not Serra over GSP. Not Weidman over Silva. Not Dillashaw over Barao. Not Sokoudjou over Lil Nog. None of those match the pure shock of seeing Holly Holm knock out Ronda Rousey yesterday. And that’s not because Ronda was the most complete, well rounded fighter. It is because none of those other fighters were anywhere near as dominant over there division as Rousey. None of them were getting rid of top 5 fighters inside of 20 seconds. None were as athletically, physically, and technically dominant over every single person they had fought up to that point in there career.
So let’s look back at that night and just appreciate an upset that we’ll likely never see again in this MMA landscape.
Holly Holm put on the fight of her life. Refusing to get caught in a bad position, she used her feet to stop any attempts at Rousey closing the distance. Some solid lefts mixed in with some great turns to escape were the key to opening up the head kick. Plus she’s just as cool as a cucumber. So composed mentally. This basically sets her apart in the female combat sports pantheon. 18 world championships and a UFC title will do that for you.
I’m seeing a lot of “Rousey got exposed”. I mean, yes and no. Yes, that wasn’t the expected outcome at all. No, she was never perfect and the reasons she lost were basically things we knew she wasn’t great at: She’s not a good ring cutter, she’s not a good boxer at range, and she has to bull rush to get the clinch. Pretty much a lock for a rematch at UFC 200. She’s the reason women are in the UFC. She’s beaten like 7 or 8 of the
top ten fighters in her division. She’s the most dominant champion the
UFC has ever seen in terms of finishing challengers quickly. It’s a guaranteed blockbuster event and if Silva can get a rematch after
getting embarrassed like he did in the first Weidman fight, Rousey can have her “she had a bad night/camp” fight too.
With Joanna Champion and Holly Holm, two former world champion level strikers, picking up wins on what will be the biggest card of the year, what do you think that does for the WMMA meta-game? Traditionally, WMMA is a grappler dominated scene: Going back to Yuka Tsuji to Megumi Fujii to Carla Esparza to Claudia Gadelha to Miesha Tate to Alexis Daivs to Ronda Rousey. The whole striking aspect has been overlooked to a shocking degree while on the men’s side, being the better striker nowadays is winning title fights.
Joanna Jedrzejczyk didn’t get the highlight reel KO that the UFC (or us fans) wanted that would launch her into stardom. And she is going to be overshadowed by Holm’s incredible performance. I’ll be damned though if Jedrzejczyk putting down a 5 round beating on Letournau wasn’t a thing of beauty. Especially with a broken hand. Valerie fought her ass off but Joanna Champion proved too great at what she does. Seems a lock that the Gadelha rematch is on the horizon for early spring next year. After that though, we have a whole list of strikers (Tecia Torres, Michelle Waterson, Justine Kish, Karolina Kowalkiewicz, Thug Rose, Alexa Grasso) chomping at the bit to get at her. Should be fun.
I can’t enjoy the Mark Hunt win because Bigfoot has deteriorated so poorly. Just a sad reminder that he’s not healthy enough to be fighting anymore but will continue to get fights against high level competition that can really hurt him.
If you’re Australian, you better get behind Robert Whittaker and Ben Nguyen now. Whittaker is the best thing to come out of Australia since Mark Hunt. He’s the best thing you got going (alongside Joseph Parker). He’s got age on his side too being only 24 years old in a top heavy division full of older guys like Bisping, Romero, Belfort, Machida, Silva, and Jacare. Wouldn’t surprise me to see him in a title fight eventually. Nguyen looks like an absolute beast so far, fading both Alp Ozkilic and Ryan Benoit in the first round. Not sure if he’ll climb the ladder like Whittaker has done but he’s bound to be in a lot of good fights.