Over the course of her MMA and athletic career, Ronda Rousey has become more than just a legend, she has transcended athletics and pop culture to become the most dominant female athlete in the history of ever, and possibly the greatest athlete of a generation.
She is beautiful, she is strong, she is mean, she is empowering, everyone loves her; and she had never lost. Not even close, in fact. Nobody could ever beat her, nothing could ever touch her reputation or her record, and nothing was supposed to be able to.
On August 21st, when it was announced that 9-0 Holly Holm would be the next challenger to Rousey’s throne, this just seemed to be another piece of raw steak that UFC President Dana White was throwing to his prized lioness. Another squash match to further prove the generational greatness of Ronda Rousey.
Personally, I was excited, because Holly Holm – a Jackson-Wink MMA product – not only fights out of my favorite camp, but also is a Cardinal fan and one of my favorite fighters and I was excited to see her finally get the stage to showcase her world class boxing skills.
But while Holm is a world class boxer, and I was going around telling people to take her seriously and that she would beat Rousey, I didn’t actually believe she would be able to do it. I didn’t actually believe that Ronda Rousey could be defeated. It was just unfathomable.
With one thunderous left high kick to the jaw, history was re-written.
From the opening bell, I kept saying to myself, “This isn’t really happening, is it?” Holly Holm was completely dominating. Her left hand was pounding Rousey, landing flush every time she threw it. Rousey couldn’t get anything going; her takedowns were stuffed, her striking was poor, her footwork was off, her signature arm bar wasn’t there, and she just kept walking right into Holm’s dynamite left hand.
After decisively suffering the first lost round of her career, Rousey came out early in the second round completely winded and looking lost. 55 seconds into the round, Rousey’s legend came crashing down to the center of the octagon just as hard as her motionless body did following a brutal left high kick right on the jaw that ended it all.
My eyes gaped wide open and my jaw was dropped. I literally couldn’t believe what I had just seen. The untouchable Ronda Rousey, the modern day Mighty Casey, was lying lifeless in the middle of an octagon, broken and defeated.
It was only when Holly Holm’s hand was actually raised, and an obviously shaken Dana White – who had just watched his most marketable athlete get destroyed – was actually put the bantamweight belt around her waist that reality set in. As I said earlier, history had been rewritten.
This was Tyson-Douglas reborn, only in that matchup Buster Douglas didn’t completely and totally dominate Mike Tyson so badly that people were left wondering if he would ever be able to come back from the defeat.
In my few years of watching fights, the biggest upset I’ve ever seen was Chris Weidman knocking out a cocky Anderson Silva. But in that fight, Silva was 38 years old, clearly past his prime, and Weidman caught him with one shot that put the lights out. It seemed to be really fluky. This was no fluke, and this was no flash in a pan. This was a complete and total annihilation reminiscent of the type Rousey is used to dishing out.
After the dust had relatively settled and I had some time to think about it, I wondered, “how in the hell did this actually happen?”
Take no credit away from Holly Holm, she came in with a perfect game plan and executed it perfectly, but Ronda Rousey failed absolutely miserably for the first time in her career.
In her MMA career, Rousey had been out of the 1st round once, and in that fight she was completely and totally in control over a dazed Miesha Tate who just somehow survived for 3 rounds. Basically, her MMA career had just been a parade of squash matches where she had physically imposed her will and no one has been able to stop her from doing so.
Right off the bell, Holly Holm gave Rousey what she had never had before; a fight.
Holm stuffed Rousey’s first takedown attempt, passed her guard, slipped out of her arm bar attempt and got back to her feet. Rousey’s subpar striking ability – which had never been exposed before – was completely and totally picked apart by the world class striking of Holm, who teed off with that dynamite left hand and just kept throwing combination after combination that Rousey just kept slogging right into.
Holm continued pounding away on a dazed Rousey, who just looked totally and completely lost when her plan A wasn’t working. By the time the 2nd round rolled around, Rousey was exhausted and had nothing left. Holm was calm, cool and kept executing her game plan. It was only a matter of time, and really quite difficult to watch.
So, to start, when Rousey’s plan A failed, she didn’t have a plan B ready, so she panicked and tried to out-strike a world champion boxer, getting absolutely massacred in attempting to do so. Secondly, Rousey’s subpar conditioning reared its ugly head about 3 minutes into the fight when her footwork became heavy and her hands became slower and she just flat out looked horrible.
Thirdly – and the biggest issue of all – Ronda Rousey became a victim of her own legend.
The media and the world have built her up into something completely unattainable. She was made into an invincible entity that could never be broken and never falter. And as much as she can try, or tell you otherwise, Rousey got caught up in her own hype.
It’s widely known that Rousey doesn’t condition hard or focus on her cardio during her fight camp. When asked about it she commented, “I’m just always in shape for my fights.” Her lack of cardio was exposed against Holm in an extreme way, as Rousey looked totally gassed after just 3 minutes in the cage.
Before her fight, Rousey was all over the place, as she is naturally wildly popular. She made appearances on Jimmy Fallon, Jimmy Kimmel, and went on a world tour to promote the fight. Holm, meanwhile was locked in the cozy confines of her hometown of Albuquerque, New Mexico, completely fixated upon the task at hand of defeating Rousey.
In her past camps, Rousey has been as difficult to find as Holm was during this camp, focused upon her task at hand and further expediting her greatness. But this camp was just different. She seemed to take Holm for granted, discussing her future on a consistent basis and accepting more public appearances in advance of the fight.
Ronda Rousey seemed to believe that her greatness and reputation would be enough to win this fight without her really having to put in the same kind of work that she normally does. And she paid dearly for it.
As for Holly Holm, she has secured her place in sports history.
This fight transcends MMA, and ranks among the greatest sports upsets in history. This is the biggest knockout in MMA history, and is somewhat akin to the United States Olympic hockey team defeating the Russian machine in the 1980’s.
Holly Holm will now be forever remembered as not just the first woman to defeat Ronda Rousey, but the woman who completely and totally obliterated Ronda Rousey.
I’ve watched a lot of sporting events in my lifetime, and a weekend after telling you that I’ve never seen anything quite like what I saw when the Principia soccer team won their first state title, I will once again tell you that I have never seen anything like this in my life and will never see anything like this ever again.
This was a literal David and Goliath story, and a perfect example of why fight fans are fight fans. Because we never know what could happen.
As James Earl Jones’ character said in The Sandlot, “Heroes are remembered, but legends never die.” And let it be remembered, that on November 14th, 2015, the legend of Ronda Rousey came crashing down to the ground as hard as Holly Holm’s left leg came crashing into Rousey’s jaw. History was re-written, and I can promise you that you’ll never see anything like this ever again.
The mighty Rousey has struck out. See you all in December at UFC 194.
Thanks for reading…