Holly Holm pulled off the biggest upset in the history of mixed martial arts on Saturday night, knocking out Ronda Rousey a minute into the 2nd round of their UFC Women’s Bantamweight Championship Match.
Ronda Rousey came into the fight as a 14-to-1 favorite at most sportsbooks, so anyone wagering significant cash on Holly Holm won a huge money. In retrospect, this was the worst possible matchup for the previously undefeated Rousey, because Holly Holm brought a skill-set the champion had never seen before.
Any MMA fan knows that Ronda Rousey had been dominant in her 12-fight career. She had used her Olympic-level judo skills to defeat a string of opponents in impressive fashion, usually with an arm bar submission hold that got quick results–and dislocated several elbows. With her combination of good looks, charisma, and MMA sprezzatura, Ronda Rousey’s run in the UFC had drawn comparisons to Mike Tyson’s late-1980s run as undisputed heavyweight champion.
Holly Holm KOs Ronda Rousey
Rousey’s first defeat was just as dramatic and just as unexpected as Tyson’s knockout loss to Buster Douglas. Unlike Buster Douglas, fans of Holly Holm could point to advantages their fighter was likely to have in the ring. But given the aura of invincibility Rousey had fostered, few could see how those skills would matter.
Once the two fighters squared-off in the octagon, Holly Holm’s advantages were apparent. Holm had fought 19 championship boxing matches in her boxing career. In 2005 and 2006, many boxing fans thought he was arguably the best female boxer in the game. In the fight with Ronda Rousey, she greatly-outclassed the champion in foot quickness and tactical skills.
Holm’s Boxing Skills Dominated the Combat
Within the first few strikes, Ronda Rousey’s face was noticeably reddening. Rousey continued to press the attack, hoping to catch her opponent with her power.
A few shots landed, but they were glancing blows at odd angles, which seemed to do little damage. Holm was content to stay on the defensive, circling to her right to stay away from Rousey’s power.
One thing became apparent. Ronda Rousey was not going to have an easy time taking the fight to the mat. This is what post-fight analysts have noted: Ronda Rousey is not a natural at getting the fight to the mat. Wrestlers are skilled at “shooting”–that is, closing the distance and getting their opponent to the ground. Judo does not emphasize that aspect of fighting in the same way.
Instead, it emphasizes infighting and submission holds. Once on the inside with a fighter willing to grapple (or who can’t hold you off), a judo fighter’s supremacy inside becomes obvious. But with a masterful boxer unwilling to stand-and-fight, a judo master is going to have trouble closing the gap. Anytime Ronda Rousey tried to get close, she faced a stiff left jab and a series of punishing oblique kicks, which target the opponent’s lead leg and dissuades them from shooting.
How Holly Holm Defeated Ronda Rousey
That’s how UFC 193’s main event played out. Midway through the 1st round, Ronda Rousey had her only real opportunity of the fight. Rousey was able to score a takedown and grab the challenger in a headlock.
She was even able to apply the armbar which made her famous, but she did not approach the takedown with the kind of aggression she’s know to offer.
Holly Holm was able to slip out of the arm bar and, later in the round, she was even able to take Ronda Rousey to the mat.
By that time, Holm’s most punishing weapon, a straight left, had found its mark between the champion’s guard and caused her to bleed from the nose and mouth. Rousey continued to press the attack, but she appears to be gassing and began to make tactical errors. When she lunged for Holly Holm nearly a minute into the 2nd round, it left Rousey out of position and vulnerable. Holm stepped to the side and threw a punch which knocked the champ to the mat (it was more of a push-down).
As Rousey scrambled to get off the mat with her back to her opponent, Holm kayoed her with a left high kick. The kick landed behind Rousey’s left ear and she appeared out before she hit the mat. Holly Holm jumped on top and landed a punch to the face and another to the shoulder of her defenseless opponent before the referee could step in to end the bout. It was all over at 0:59 of the second round.
Holly Holm Post-Fight Interview
After the fight, Holly Holm explained that the fight transpired exactly as she and her training staff had hoped. In an interview with FoxSports after the fight, she said, “I have to say that everything that we worked on presented itself in the fight.”
“Every kind of grab that she tried to get and clinch on the cage. I have not spent this much time in the gym before any fight in my life.”
“Everything we worked on happened tonight and that actually happened to be something we worked on to try and angle the clinch. I didn’t want to kick her to the body because we didn’t want her to grab onto us and it just was there.”
Rousey Rushed to the Hospital
Ronda Rousey was rushed to the hospital after the fight for observation. She did not speak to reporters.
No word has been released about her condition, but given the brutal nature of the KO, it would be well-in-keeping to send a fallen fighter to the hospital as a precaution.
UFC 193 goes to show that anything can happen anytime two fighters step inside ring or octagon. Every fighter can be beaten. Fighters often come down to a contrast of styles and matchups. When an opponent has the right combination of skill, stamina, and discipline, even the unbeatable champion can lose.
“If I Had Bet $20 on Holly Holm”
I noticed one of the people who read this article had typed-in the words”If I Had Bet $20 on Holly Holm”. According to Fansided, “Vegas Dave” (David Oancea), who won $2.5 million recently on a Kansas City Royals futures bet, wagered $20,000 on Holly Holm and ended up winning a nice $240,000 on the wager.
That was on a straight moneyline bet, which would have been +$1200. Most sportsbooks were reporting to be offering +$1200 to +$1400 on Holm, meaning you would win that much money on a $100 wager. Essentially, you’d get paid somewhere between 12-to-1 and 14-to-1 odds, based on the wager. If you wagered $20 on Holly Holm, you would stand to win somewhere between $240 and $280, depending where you made the bet. A $1000 bet would be worth $12,000. But betting a twenty dollar bill for that kind of payout would be nice. All in all, it’s a nice payout for a twenty-buck bet.
Anyone betting on Ronda Rousey is crying today. You’d likely be getting a -1250 to -1500 on the fight, meaning you’d have to wager between $1250 to $1500 on UFC 193, just to win a measly $100. Most sensible gamblers won’t make such a wager, but it happens.