Ronda Rousey has fallen. After vanquishing her last three opponents inside 64 seconds, Rousey lost her first match in MMA and UFC inside six minutes. She didn’t just lose. She got knocked out. Cold. It was brutal to watch and mesmerizing at the same time. Shock, awe, and sadness all in one beautifully landed Holly Holm kick to Ronda’s neck that ended it. Watching it live, I tried to imagine what people thought when Mike Tyson was knocked out by Buster Douglas. UFC 193 was the home of the greatest upset of all time. Something nobody will forget. Where were you the night Ronda Rousey got knocked out?
I could see it coming. Small hints. I wrote hours before the fight that Rousey seemed rattled at the weigh in and overly tense. She is always an emotional battlefield of open wounds, but this was different. She sounded like somebody who wasn’t holding the crown. She sounded worried. Who was this tall, sweet talking and well natured challenger nicknamed the Preacher’s Daughter? Holm was unlike anything Rousey had faced before. A fighter with an excellent stand up strike game and a tall and muscular build to withstand attacks and make someone think twice about coming after her. Holm was a different specimen than Ronda’s usual opponents. With few threats or words, Holm was inside Ronda’s head before the fight night began.
Once the opening bell sounded and 30 seconds passed, Ronda seemed off her game. She wanted to jump in quick and end it but she didn’t know how. Holm wasn’t backing up or giving an open lane inside. After a minute passed, Ronda seemed even more lost. Holm landed flush shot after flush shot straight to the face of the champ. Rousey’s defense was gone. She was desperate in the first round and Holm was taking advantage. Rousey took Holm down and tried to do an armbar hold and Holm broke out of it with ease. It was sloppy and easy to escape from. Holm took down Ronda but immediately got up, knowing the ground wasn’t her best chance to take the title. Ronda got back up and barely escaped the first round. She had no legs. No energy. No clue. Fight fans wondered who they were looking at. Who was this mortal person in the ring?
Rousey sat in her corner, looking as shocked as the rest of us. She didn’t know who was standing in front of her but her face suddenly recognized pain and how adversity felt. For the first time, Rousey was bleeding and her opponent was not.
The second round didn’t even get a minute old before Rousey was finished. She missed with a few shots and Holm landed a few flush shots to the face before Rousey tried to charge and fell in doing so. When she got back up, she missed with another shot, got tagged and stumbled to the ground. Before she could get up and turn around, Holm landed the perfect leg to the neck and face. The strike numbed Rousey’s moment and the rest of her night, all at once. Rousey fell to the ground like a lump of bricks. You know that limp nothing look to a fighter’s body when they get caught with the perfect shot? That was Rousey. She landed, and Holm got on top, landing two more sideway shots to the champ’s face, literally knocking the undefeated record from her body. With one fall, the monument that Rousey built was gone. The “And still” anthem was put on hold and a new sound was heard, “And NEWWWWW!!!”
Holm immediately jump up in and ran to the side of the ring, unleashing the biggest smile this world will see this weekend. She did it. She did the impossible. The unthinkable. After eight weeks of being told no way, Holm screamed back at the world, “WAY!!”. She didn’t just defeat Ronda Rousey. She defeated the hype machine and world conquering name and face of a legion of young women fighters. Now young girls can look up to two female fighters and not just one. The whole world will know the name Holly Holm by Monday morning. It will be in every punch line, water cooler conversation and phone screen. The image of her leg landing on Rousey’s neck will be as memorable as Juan Manuel Marquez sending Manny Pacquiao to the canvas with that thunderous right hook.
Will Ronda return? Sure she will. She is hungrier than ever now. Minutes after she was counted out, she sat on the canvas and realized what it was like to not win. That is all the motivation she will need to come back for a likely rematch against Holm. Every loss is only met by the sweet smell of revenge cooking around the corner. For now, celebrate Holm and her newfound fame. She earned every tweet, mention and headline that will involve her name over the holidays. She was a massive underdog coming into the fight and leaves Australia the champion of the world. As the great late St. Louis Cardinals pitcher Joaquin Andujar said, “You Never Know.”
In the world of sports, you never know what will happen. In the world of fighting, you never know what will happen when that bell dings and it’s time. There’s someone out there for everybody to lose to. It’s a matter of those two people meeting in a ring.
Saturday night, Ronda Rousey entered the ring as the undefeated champion and top name in the world of sports. Sunday morning, she will wake up defeated and without a belt with a chip on her shoulder. The larger than life star has fallen. What will she do when she wakes up? That is the beauty of sports. Every fall is followed by a reaction.
What are you prepared to do, Ronda?
While we are pondering that and the rematch is set up, take a moment and send some praise Holly Holm’s way. She shocked the world this weekend!