The Ronda Rousey-Holly Holm weigh-in prior to UFC 193 almost exploded in a flurry of flying fists, with Rowdy Ronda ready to bash Holm's face in before they ever even entered the Octagon. So it looked like the match between the undefeated champ and her seventh-ranked challenger might really catch fire. Saturday—Sunday in Australia—Rousey was in top form in Melbourne as she faced her most forbidding opponent yet. In a thrilling match, Rousey was clearly out for blood. But she met a powerful, skilled opponent who gave her a real challenge for the first time in her UFC career, handily lasting throughout the first round, bloodying Rousey, then defeating the champ in round two.
Holly Holm was a worthy challenger to Rousey—maybe her most worthy yet—in many ways. The taut, 5'8", 134 lb "Preacher's Daughter" was well-matched against Rousey in size and reach and was, like the champ, undefeated. She had a killer résumé as a championship amateur kickboxer and professional boxer. Six of her UFC wins had been by decisive, thumping knockouts.
Speaking with ESPN before the match, Rousey made it clear she knew she was up against a potentially dangerous foe. She said, "[Holm has ] one-punch knockout power (. . .) And she's the first runner I've fought."
Rousey, however, has always had an unusually formidable arsenal of weapons at her disposal. Her background as a medalist in Olympic-level judo is often cited, but Rousey put the "mixed" in "mixed martial arts." She's trained in jiu-jitsu, wrestling technique, and as ESPN reported Friday, she prepped hard for fighting Holm by focusing on boxing. She zeroed in on the sweet science, according to the report, to sharpen her pugilism skills and "to beat Holm that way—just to prove she can."
All that in addition to the charismatic bantamweight champion's laser-like focus on the task at hand gave her immense advantages as she faced Holm in Melbourne. To find a fighter who so perfectly combined training, intensity, and intellect, we have to look back to boxing's all-time greatest, Muhammad Ali.
The match in Melbourne proved one thing, regardless of Rousey's immense skillset: nothing in ultimate fighting is predictable. New UFC bantamweight champion Holly Holm proves it.
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