Is Ronda Rousey & the UFC Avoiding a Holly Holm Rematch?
For now, yes, but we need this rematch soon to seal the legitimacy of a legendary fight
A 5 hour wait…
To get into Buffalo Wild Wings on the night of UFC 193, you would have to wait 5 hours to get a table.
Luckily for us, my bestfriend’s girlfriend worked at the bar and snagged us each a seat. There were some fights on that were mostly irrelevant to us, appetizers for the main event.
The main event was Ronda Rousey, better known as Ronda “fucking” Rousey, by sports fans. The most dangerous woman on the planet. When she was fighting, someone was getting an ass kicking.
Until the night of November 14th, 2015.
The last night Ronda Rousey would be on the top of the combat sports world. I will forever remember exactly where I was standing.
I will also never forget the look of shock and awe as exclamations of, “I can’t believe it!” and “What did I just witness?”, that echoed with a palpable magnitude across the sports bar. No one was eating.
What we witnessed that night was the unexpected end of part one to the career of UFC’s Wonder Woman.
Last week, the UFC announced Rousey’s return against Bantamweight champion Amanda Nunes at UFC 207 in December. Rousey will have been out of the octagon for over a year.
And thrust straight into a championship match. UFC purists groan, casual fans mark their calendars, and I question why Rousey is not vanquishing her demons first?
No matter who Rousey faced as her return opponent, there’s two guarantees. It’s a main event match, and there’ll be a lot of hype. Will Rousey win in her return? Will a loss end her career? Come on Forbes.
There’s also a narrative as to why Ronda Rousey deserves a title shot upon her return, and it’s a fair one.
Rousey’s career pre-Holm spoke for her itself. The only female athlete arguably more dominating in a sport in the last decade is Serena Williams as far as mainstream sports success goes.
Pre-Holm, Rousey won 12 straight fights with only one fight going past a first round finish. 9 of her 12 wins came via her vicious armbar where once an opponent was on her back, no woman stood a chance.
The more Ronda won, the more Rowdy she got. An argument could be made that the marketing persona was getting to her head by the time her fight was booked with Bethe Correia. Add on that Rousey was becoming Hollywood, appearing in Furious 7, Entourage, and Wrestlemania. It’s not easy to do several things and be the greatest at something.
I recall analyzing Rousey’s UFC 190 bout versus Correia. Rousey went straight at Correia with impunity and beat her down in 34 seconds for a KO victory. On paper it looks akin to the rest of her fight resume. But there was a small important detail.
Rousey’s stand up game, hand to hand skills, were vulnerable. Rousey was sloppy in technique against Correia who was not a skilled stand up fighter either and was simply overpowered by Rousey. This is where a part of me could make the argument that Rousey’s persona was affecting her fighting.
Arrogance says I can walk onto the mat and beat you down any way I want to, and that thought was the general consensus among the public. But there’s a lot of ways to beat someone in mixed martial arts, and MMA is more tactical a sport as it is brutish strength.
Holm exposed Rousey’s Achilles heel, and the narrative has been set in stone ever since. Rousey is not the most dominant women’s mixed martial arts fighter. She’s prone to counterstriking.
A strategic Rousey may have stood a chance against Holm whom had Rousey well scouted. Rousey chased Holm until she was gassed and then got her head kicked off her swivel.
As much as die hard UFC fans may want to deny, the UFC is leaning evermore towards an entertainment based product booked on storylines over substance.
McGregor vs. Diaz is the prime example. The fights themselves have been amazing. They’re like the fight scenes of a Marvel movie. But honestly we’re enveloped in this for the entire cinematic experience. The war of words, the broken press conferences, the daily news reports and rumors.
McGregor took the shine while Rousey has been on the shelf, though Rousey has never been shy to controversy. Rousey has jawed with Miesha Tate, Correia, and Holm prior to and after their fights. Rousey’s notion to mouth off whatever she feels has developed an impression among MMA fans that she’s arrogant. Arrogance works for those who can back it up (Mayweather).
It’s possible that Rousey’s arrogance led to her demise in the Holm fight as I mentioned earlier, but she also has an arrogant coach in Edmond Tarverdyan. Any story involving Tarverdyan saying anything typically doesn’t end well. See gif below.
That’s Tarverdyan picking a fight with Fabricio Werdum. Idiot. Moving on.
Tarverdyan was criticized for Rousey’s fight preparation most notably by Rousey’s mother. Yet no matter how you slice it, Rousey was humiliated in fisticuffs inside the octagon. Cue the music.
Redemption. It’s the storyline that eventually has to come if Rousey’s UFC career is to come full circle. The only question is, how long will we have to wait to get it?
Even if Rousey eradicates Nunes in vintage Rousey fashion at 207, the blemish on her record still remains. One loss. Holly Holm. Knockout.
Rousey going after the Bantamweight championship first seems like a cheap way to book her in a gimmie fight to build up the fans confidence, and possibly her own, before rematching Holm down the line.
Holm is 35 years of age and much past her fighting prime. A boxing champion turned MMA fighter, she’s not getting any younger and the mileage she’s put on her body is steep especially having lost two straight matches.
If Rousey’s going to rematch Holm, it’s better to be sooner than later. Holm had an illustrious boxing career (33–2–3) before going into MMA and at age 35, she’s much past her athletic prime. Holm’s boxing career began in 2002, and transitioned into MMA in 2011.
Rousey’s matchup with Nunes already has Rousey as the betting favorite. Nunes strength is wrestling her opponents to the ground which has not boded well for any of Rousey’s opponents. Rousey’s judo background topples her opponents anytime they get close to her.
Just ask Cat Zingano. No one has matched up with Rousey on the ground.
A refocused Rousey versus a reeling Holm has all the makings of a marquis fight. But the question remains and will continue to remain.
What if Rousey loses to Holm again?
You can just about book it now, a physically and mentally healthy Rousey doesn’t lose to Nunes. The only way Nunes wins if she’s in Rousey’s head before the fight and forces Rousey to beat herself like she did against Holm.
But let’s call it what it is. Rousey vs. Nunes is a buffer match.
Forget the Bantamweight championship, Rousey has unfinished business, Holm has a career legacy to fulfill.
It’s the fight we want, but the UFC isn’t ready to give it. I would call it trepidation. If the fight isn’t booked in 2017, the luster will have been lost.
As I said earlier, the UFC is finding more marketability in selling storyline based fights. Put your biggest names in the best fights possible with the most verbiage being thrown around, which has been a credit to the UFC for booking these fights and letting them go their course.
The Rousey-Holm rematch is a storied bout and the only way to guarantee the sanctity of the fight is to get it booked next year. Consider how long we’ve waited for Jones-Cormier rematch to come to fruition.
I doubt Holm or Rousey will fail a drug test anytime soon (though you never know these days), but I’m more afraid of one of the two competitors may suffer an injury which runs rampant on the UFC roster.
There’s one critical reason Rousey vs. Holm 2 needs to happen beyond Rousey’s need for redemption and Holm’s quest to prove she’s more than a one-fight wonder.
Who wins Rousey-Holm 2? I can honestly tell you I don’t know. And that’s why we need this fight.