Leading up to UFC 193 in Melbourne, many people wondered aloud whether Ronda Rousey was almost too dominant. The UFC seemed to be struggling to completely sell out Etihad Stadium, and some fans were hesitant to shell out some serious dough for a fight many expected to last as long as a Vine. When Rousey and her opponent Holly Holm got into an altercation at the weigh-ins, mixed martial arts websites questioned whether Ronda was just trying to drum up last second interest.
Holly Holm came into the fight a +700 underdog to Rousey’s -1000. As we noted leading up to the fight, that’s the same disparity in odds we saw when Matt Serra knocked Georges St Pierre out back in 2007. That fight previously stood as the biggest upset in mixed martial arts history. That distinction may now go to Holly Holm for her amazing headkick knockout of Ronda Rousey.
So how did she do it? By perfectly executing a gameplan put together by her coaches at Jackson / Winkeljohn’s MMA, the same camp that houses Jon Jones, Donald Cerrone, Carlos Condit, and a number of other bona fide UFC killers. Holly told Joe Rogan during her post-fight victory interview that she spent every day working on her movement so she could stay out of Ronda Rousey’s hands and avoid getting thrown. Throughout the entire fight, Ronda was forced to bullrush forward to try and hit Holm, but Holm was always out of reach.
At the same time, Holly was countering Ronda’s shots and landing time after time with ease. Rousey, clearly unused to having this much trouble chasing down an opponent, lost a lot of the technique she and her coach Edmond Tarverdyan bragged about leading up to the fight as she was left lunging forward to swing at empty space.
Holly’s boxing pedigree was on full display as she used her footwork and angles to circle out of Ronda’s reach while hitting her at will with endless left hands. At one point she managed to hit Rousey with a side kick right out of her teammate Jon Jones’ arsenal. Her defensive head movement was on point and she made Ronda seem slow with the way she was able to duck under her wild hooks.
The best thing Ronda could have done after losing round one (the first round she’d ever lost in her entire mixed martial arts career) was stop chasing Holm. Instead, the former UFC women’s bantamweight champion got even more wild, losing her footing several times as she charged forward towards her opponent. The pressure that had broken down all her past opponents ended up being her undoing in this fight. She looked desperate and undisciplined while Holm stayed calm and collected.
Most people expected Holm to stay away from using her kicks considering the danger Rousey posed on the ground. And while she didn’t use them as much as she has in past fights, she picked her spots. When she knocked Ronda off balance in a clinch and pushed her to the mat, she didn’t hesitate to follow up with the brutal headkick that finished the fight, catching Rousey flush on the neck and jaw.
It was a masterful performance that no one can call a fluke win. If you came into the fight not knowing who was supposed to be the +1000 favorite, you’d have thought it was Holm disposing of an unworthy contender. But just because she made it look easy doesn’t mean it was. That was the culmination of 14 years hard work with coach Mike Winkeljohn, and a gameplan designed specifically to dethrone Rousey.