Written by Alex Andrew
Ronda Rousey: Hindsight
Apparently, everyone saw this coming. That is the beauty of hindsight; everyone is a genius after the fact. After all, all of the signs were there:
She had never fought a world class striker.
She spread herself too thin with movies, media obligations, and other distractions.
She surrounded herself with a team of yes-men who were too scared to let her know when she was getting off track.
Her idiot striking coach has yet to produce another fighter who has achieved anywhere near her level of success.
She truly seemed to believe her own hype, and showed up clearly out of shape (gassed out in the second round).
She needlessly disrespected her opponent by refusing to touch gloves.
Hell, Jonathan Snowden even pointed out that if anyone was going to beat Ronda Rousey, it would be Holly Holm. The guys at the CoMain Event Podcast even pointed out that, leading into the fight, Ronda was starting to say all of the shit that people say when they’re about to lose.
Truthfully, the only people who saw this coming were Holly Holm, her husband, and the team at Jackson-Winkeljohn. In her previous fights, which have been numerous, Rousey had given us no reason to believe that she could be beaten. While her striking may not have been the most sound technically in previous fights, she had used it effectively to either set up her take downs or put other women to sleep. Her poor footwork was never an issue because she fought like a tornado and no one had ever come close to stopping her.
Yet, by the time Rousey dropped to one knee after missing with a wild left hook, we all said to ourselves “holy shit, it’s happening.” It didn’t help matters that her corner gave her incorrect and counter intuitive advice between rounds (David Castillo breaks it down brilliantly).
Armchair MMA experts, I say to you this: shut up. I did not see this coming, and neither did you.
Holly Holm: Antidote
I was as shocked as anyone to find that Holly Holm was the antidote to Ronda Rousey. Based on her body of work, in both boxing and MMA, I honestly did not have any reason to believe that Holm was capable of doing anything more than avoiding Rousey’s inevitable take down for maybe an extra round or two. While she has KO victories on her record, she has never been a truly powerful striker. Bloody Elbow’s striking expert Conor Ruebusch, in his excellent breakdown pointed out the following:
It was Rousey’s style that turned Holm into a devastating puncher overnight. Determined to close the distance from the very beginning of the fight, Rousey repeatedly ran into Holm’s punches, her momentum magnifying the impact.
This was really just the tip of the iceberg. Holm’s team came up with the blueprint for beating Rousey, and Holm executed it to perfection. She even threw in some of those Jon Jones style oblique kicks, frustrating Rousey and stifling her forward attack.
So maybe it’s time to re-examine Holly Holm. What she seemingly lacks in charisma and marketability, she makes up for with a legitimate resume as champion in multiple forms of combat sports. She may never star in the Expendables, but she just beat the UFC’s top draw. Where she goes from here is anyone’s guess.
(Credit: Getty Images / Quinn Rooney)
Joanna Jedrzejczyk and Valerie Letourneau: Overshadowed
There are many (including myself) who felt going into UFC 193 that Joanna Jedrzejczyk was the single most compelling figure in women’s MMA, more so than even Ronda Rousey. “Joanna Champion” competes in a far more competitive featherweight division, and her last few wins have been some of the most impressive and violent in any weight class of either gender. Her fights are a master class in timing, footwork, and angles. UFC 193 was supposed to be her night. They booked her in the co-main event so that casual fans tuning in for Ronda Rousey would see this other female fighter and fall in love with her. Then Rousey would go off to Hollywood for a little while and Joanna took the ball and ran with it, becoming the UFC’s next big female star.
Things did not quite work out that way. This probably is not fair to Joanna, who won a hard fought victory in a decisive manner. As is often the case with her fights, she spent the early rounds figuring out her opponent, only to adapt and take over in the later rounds. It was an impressive performance, and one that any serious MMA fan would enjoy watching. It was not, however, as “highlight reel” worthy as some of her other recent performances. Judging from some of the comments on Twitter, it seemed that the fight may have gone over the heads of the uninitiated.
Then Rousey lost, cementing UFC 193 as the card in which Ronda Rousey was knocked out and two other women fought in the under card. To top things off, Joanna suffered a broken hand and will now need surgery. Regardless, it was still an impressive win and Joanna remains one of the world’s most impressive fighters that no one is talking about.
Credit to Letourneau for being a game opponent. The only losses of her career have been against the top-tier of women’s MMA, and this fight was competitive. Unfortunately for her, if Joanna Champion was overshadowed by Holly Holm, Letourneau was dwarfed.
(Credit: Mitch Viquez/Zuffa LLC)
Mark Hunt: Nine Lives
It’s famine or feast for Mark Hunt. In his last eight fights, only one has gone to decision (a five round draw with Antonio Silva, an absolute war). The remaining seven fights have ended KO or TKO. Here’s the catch: he lost three of them. The Mark Hunt of the last few years has either been knocking people out or getting knocked out, with no middle ground to speak of. Is it any surprise that he has become something of an internet darling?
Mark Hunt has been competing in MMA for over 10 years, and competed at the highest level in kickboxing before that. There is no reason to believe that someone who has been competing for this long and has taken this kind of punishment should be anywhere near relevant in the UFC. His career record is 11-10! Yet, here he sits…coming off an impressive TKO victory in a thin division, just one or two key injuries away from another shot at the heavyweight strap. Hunt’s nine lives seem far from over.
Antonio Silva: Sad Giant
I can not think of anything that it is more of a bummer than watching a sad Antonio Silva slump out of the cage. The knee jerk reaction to this quick loss will be that without TRT, Silva was incapable of hanging in there with Hunt. While this might have been a factor, it seems far more likely that Silva is just too shop-worn for MMA. It seems like every fighter has a finite number of times they can get punched in the head before they become permanently glass-jawed (remember when it happened to Chuck Liddell). The human body, even for a professional athlete, can only take so much punishment, and Father Time is a rapacious creditor.
Antonio Silva may never have been a great heavyweight, but he was a likable and entertaining one. His first fight with Mark Hunt was arguably the greatest heavyweight fight of all time. His career was full of fun highlights, like his comeback KO upset over Alistair Overeem. Talking about his career in the past tense is wishful thinking, because athletes who compete at this level almost never know when to quit. Let’s just say he’s now in the Dan Henderson Zone. We love you, now please stop fighting.
Robert Whittaker: Middleweight
Weight cutting has been a huge part of the sport for as long as weight classes have existed. Conventional logic is that a 205 pound fighter who can cut 30+ pounds in a short amount of time (much of it water weight) will have a distinct advantage over the naturally smaller fighter competing at the same weight class. This mentality is an integral part of amateur wrestling, so it is only natural that it found it’s way into MMA. The problem is, there are serious health risks associated with weight cutting. Not only that, but cutting weight can be a physically draining process that can hamper the athletes performance when it comes time to actually fight. At what point are the advantages of weight cutting offset by it’s hindrances?
In the case of Robert Whittaker, we have a fighter going against the grain of conventional logic. He is competing in a higher weight class with the expectation that he will perform better by competing in a more “natural” weight class. So far, his move to middleweight has paid dividends. Fightland’s Peter Carroll already wrote an article discussing Whittaker’s Renaissance at 185, and Whittaker continued to trend upward at UFC 193. It would be a stretch to call his decision win over Uriah Hall dominant, but it certainly was decisive. He was aggressive throughout the fight, and got the better of Hall in some key grappling exchanges. It was an impressive victory, and moved Whittaker one step closer to “fringe contender” status. We will see if his success inspires more fighters to leave big weight cuts behind and “go natural” as well.
Uriah Hall: Ceiling
He is who we thought he was. Despite being one of the more compelling figures in recent TUF history after some fantastic, highlight reel finishes, Hall has failed to become anything more than mid card fodder for the UFC. He is the classic case of “one step forward, two steps backward.” Let us not forget that this is the same guy who was hugging and high fiving John Howard in the middle of a close fight in Boston a few years ago. Dana White called him out for it, and he responded with a string of somewhat impressive victories…only to drop a split decision loss to Rafael Natal. He responded to this loss by stringing together a few wins by TKO, one of which was the highest profile win of his career over Gegard Mousasi. What many overlooked was that while this flying knee victory made for a great highlight video, the fight itself was a fluke. Hall was clearly outclassed, and he won the fight with a risky technique that could have easily backfired.
The truth is this: Uriah Hall is an above average mixed martial artist who has hit his ceiling. This is not the worst thing in the world. There are worse ways to make a living than being fed to more talented middleweights who are on their way up the rankings.
Jared Rosholt and Stefan Struve: Goodnight
They should have just opened the card with 20 extra minutes of Oscar De La Hoya gushing over Ronda Rousey.