Before her main event clash with Ketlen Vieira, let’s go back to 2015 when one of the biggest upsets in MMA history took place and “The Preacher’s Daughter” shocked the world.
Going from the weigh-in until the post-fight interview, let’s take an in-depth look at the main event of UFC 193, Ronda Rousey vs. Holly Holm, and if there were signs the MMA community missed along the journey.
The Backstory of Ronda Rousey vs. Holly Holm
UFC 193 was taking place in Melbourne, Australia at the Etihad Stadium. At the time this was the third UFC event to take place inside a stadium. With the event nearly sold out within the first twenty-four hours, UFC 193 was on par to break the highest attendance record in company history. That is exactly what happened, with over fifty-six thousand people in attendance, this was a new record for the MMA leaders and a night for one of the biggest stars to put on a great performance for the fans, or so many thought.
Going into the fight, reigning UFC Bantamweight Champ Ronda Rousey was not only on top of the MMA world but had bridged the gap to pop culture and superstardom. Appearing on various talk shows before the fight and having already released an autobiography, the whole world was getting to know the “Rowdy” one.
Her opponent, Holly Holm, on the other hand, was quite unknown to a large percentage of the MMA community with a 9-0 record including two decision victories in the UFC. Many were unaware of the boxing accolades that “The Preacher’s Daughter” had amassed and was thought to be another fighter to crumble under the pressure of fighting the sport’s biggest star.
Regardless of who was standing across the cage from Rousey, it was going to be a big event. Having her opponent also be undefeated was a big boost for promotion’s sake and added to the stakes and hype of this matchup.
Rousey vs. Holm: The Weigh-in
As this event was before UFC 199, there were no morning weigh-ins. The ceremonial weigh-ins were the weigh-ins. Which may have explained why the events that took place next happened. With the crowd in attendance going crazy and fighters hitting the scale, these two competitors weighed in and came face to face for their showdown.
In that staredown, something happened to trigger Holm to raise her right arm in a fist and push it across Rousey’s torso, causing what seemed like a punch/push. This did not seem like a preplanned action to stir up the champion, but if it was, it definitely worked.
In the interviews that followed, the New Mexico native looked as if she was the cool, calm, and collected champion that had seen it all and was unrattled by it all, and not the +700 underdog, who was going to shock the world.
As for the olympian, the -1200 favorite, and the six-time defending champ? That was a different story. Fired up after the staredown, Rousey began berating her opponent and her team claiming, “It’s not the first time someone thought they could beat me. It’s not the first time your camp thought they had the perfect plan to beat me.”
Walkouts and Introductions
Both of these fighters weren’t wasting any time trying to get to the cage for this one. Rousey with her usual speed walk through the crowd as ‘Bad Reputation’ was playing. Watching it back, it did seem as though she was rushing to the cage as her team had to run to keep up with her gait. As they were preparing her to get ready to step inside the octagon, the cornermen looked to be scrambling to make sure everything was ready.
Holm was calm, with it being in a stadium, she too jogged to the cage, but the energy seemed different. Her confidence did not allow the moment to phase “The Preacher’s Daughter.” As both fighters stepped into that octagon, the main event was just about to begin.
During the introductions, everything looked to be business as usual. No fighter looked particularly over-amped or under-prepared for the fight. But once each fighter was called to the center to go over the rules, it was the champ who did not want to touch gloves as this became personal. Rousey did not touch gloves with many of her opponents as this was personal to her, but something about this one seemed off.
This fight started at a fever pitch with anticipation and tension being felt throughout the stadium and through the television screen. Holm used her footwork and movement from the getgo to gauge her opponent’s distance and evade any type of clinch work that Rousey sets up for her judo throws. The champ was hot on her tail following each side step and getting into range to start throwing her hands.
At 4:30, the fight can be decided with this first major exchange. Holm utilized an angled combination, throwing a cross-lead uppercut-cross and swiftly getting out of range for Rousey to respond. Not only did the champ not respond, but looked as if she did not know what had just happened. Her feet were stuck in position. During the moment this might not have seemed like much more than the first exchange of many but Holm was too fast for the champ the whole night.
Continuing to use her footwork around the cage, Holm was leading the dance if only in the cage control and Rousey was moving hastily to keep up. At 3:45, Rousey was able to get Holm against the cage and attempt to work not only her clinch to secure a takedown but finally land some strikes with Holm staying in place. Biding her time, Holm was able to avoid major damage and secure an underhook to push off the cage and break the clinch. Passing her first big test of the evening.
The challenger would soon find herself on the mat with the bronze medal judo champ, after landing a step-in rear elbow that connected flush, but in range enough for Rousey to secure a headlock and position herself for a judo throw, that did not land properly but was still able to get Holm to the ground and in a spot where Rousey almost took the back position and attempt to lock up her signature armbar. Holm was collected in these moments and was able to be patient and work her way back up to her feet, where she saw a champion bloodied and with their mouth agape, trying to breathe in air. The champ was tiring quick.
“The Preacher’s Daughter” had a game plan and was sticking to it. Quick feet, short combos, and constant movement, there was no chance she was going to stay in the pocket with the champ and let her get close. Landing three flush crosses at 1:34, 1:26,1:18, and 1:09, each strike was slowing down and hurting the champ, but little time for her to respond. Holm was gone from each exchange even coming close to landing with damage but they were adding up with each attempt.
With 48 seconds left in the first, Rousey finally got Holm to stand still but nobody could have predicted what happened next. Changing levels and securing a double underhook position, Holm was able to use her lowered center of gravity to lift the champion off her feet and secure a takedown. The challenger was unable to secure the position for a long time, it showed that she is more than a striker and was going to bring it wherever this fight ended up.
The round ends with minimal action after the takedown, but stunned fans worldwide wondering how the champ was going to respond after clearly losing not only the first round of this fight but the first round of her career. As well as, being a few steps behind her much faster opponent.
Believing that Rousey would become more and more desperate as the fight went on, Holm’s corner told her to be patient and relaxed as the opportunities would present themselves if she just sticks to the game plan. Rousey’s corner seemed unfazed by what just transpired and ensured her that if she kept her hands up and used more feints she would be fine.
The second round picked up right where the first ended, with Holm landing clean left hands within the first fifteen seconds. Rousey had no answer and was chasing down her opponent even more than in the last round. The distance was being maintained for Holm and there were no answers on how to get inside. As Rousey was playing catchup this whole time she had to go out and risk something. At 4:27, trying to keep Holm near the cage, the champ threw a lead left hook that was easily telegraphed and evaded by Holm as Rousey fell to one knee due to exhaustion and off-balanced striking.
The world knows what happens these next twenty seconds. Holm continues to land clean crosses with the final one stumbling the champ at 4:09, where Rousey drops to a knee and as she recovers, receives the head kick heard around the world. Knocking out the undefeated superstar and champion, “The Preacher’s Daughter” did exactly what she sought to do; shock the world.
After the announcement of a new champion, Holm seemed to still be in dreamland and she was unsure how to react during her post-fight interview. Thanking all of her coaches and teammates, “The Preacher’s Daughter” spoke about the aggression of her opponent and training for it day in and day out, knowing movement was going to be key to winning this fight. Ready to celebrate all her hard work and success, Holm was on top of the world as she achieved something, many did not expect.
With her next main event approaching soon, the former champion is looking to string together three wins and hopefully bring herself back to title contention. If unable to ever get back on top again, she will always have the memories of November 15, 2015.
Featured image credit to Embed from Getty Images