The night was full of decent moments, but nobody's gonna be talking about anyone else except Ronda Rousey. The UFC 193 scene felt like a replay of 2007, when it seemed like the underdogs could do nothing but win title fights. Holly Holm's performance and victory was no mere upset though.
1. EA: It's in the Voodoo
Well, not really.
It's hard to find a reasonable discussion about Rousey right now. Because she was and is such a bombastic presence, there's a desire to see her fail. Short term memory becomes the defacto mode of thought, giving rise to tangible details that become broader but manufactured and misguided narratives.
Was Rousey exposed? For once I'll say that some of the hot takes have a semblance of truth. Yes, Rousey is still an elite mixed martial artist. She's still a premier talent in all of MMA. But this wasn't Serra vs. GSP. Holly Holm not only executed the perfect gameplan, but she did it with the help of Ronda's limitations.
Rousey's strength on the feet is inversely proportional to her strength on the ground. It's a recent development in her game, and one she's only honed against weaker, less athletic fighters. Not only was she trying to shoehorn previous strategies against a superior athlete and striker, but she never made the adjustment even after a full round of punishment. Amanda Nunes or a fantasy bout with Cyborg wouldn't look the same because of Holm's experience with footwork and boxing, but it's alarming how violent Holm made it look, given her lack of power. Yes, Holm landed with brutal accuracy, but the brutality was a direct byproduct of Rousey's inability.
2. Rematch? I Don't Know What Zuffa is Thinking Either
Just hours ago we were talking about Rousey as a "freak of existence". A rematch would not only dampen the hyperbole on these stoner reflections, but it would destroy Ronda's brand completely. Lyoto Machida vs. Mauricio Rua deserved a rematch. Even Cain Velasquez vs. Junior dos Santos deserved a rematch because it was so sudden and quick, it didn't tell us much.
Rematching Ronda Rousey vs. Holly Holm is like taking a second crack at Vitor Belfort vs. Jon Hess. Well, not really. But like Weidman vs. Silva, it's a bad idea. Holm was in complete control the entire time. At no point in time could you wag your finger and say "well there's where Ronda screwed up". Ronda didn't screw up. Holm just flat out hammered her.
While team sports are so different than individual sports, systems are still a part of what enables efficiency. And just like a bad coach can sink a good team, a bad coach can sink the efficiency of a good fighter. I do think that people are way too quick to blame Edmund, as if this loss is completely on him; if Rousey won round 1, sure. Blame him for the ridiculous "advice" he was spewing between rounds. But a loss so thorough never has just one cause. However, Edmund certainly didn't help, where Greg Jackson, sport killer extraordinaire, helped Holly in so many subtle but vital ways.
3. Joanna (Still Champion)
This fight will be completely forgotten, and that's a shame. It wasn't blistering action. And Joanna didn't look dominant. But she looked like a champion. Letourneau had Joanna well scouted, avoiding extended boxing exchanges, and countering patiently enough to give herself opportunities for most of the bout. I feel like this fight deserves a note heavy rewatch; Valerie showed serious poise early on. At least until that snapping front kick.
4. A Middleweight Contender?
I actually loved this fight. I felt like the only one, watching it with friends. Mainly because it was exactly as I predicted; not necessarily an action fight, but one that would deliver. And I think it delivered; pockets of great intensity, with two radically different strategies on the feet playing out with technical precision. I don't know how Whittaker can do against the truly elite of 185, but his boxing continues to develop. Even his speed is looking frightening.
5. The Hunt for Red November
Mark Hunt did the only thing he knows how, except this time he did it on a diet of not steak and eggs. I'm not confident that Hunt can make anymore noise in the division, but he'll probably pick at least one more walk off knockout Jose Bautista style.
6. Heavyweight Humdrums
Wow this fight pic.twitter.com/h7Qf3783ub— Brandon Frm NJ (@BrandonfrmNJ) November 15, 2015
Stefan Struve vs. Jared Rosholt was pretty much the worst case scenario for these two, but this is typically how it works when you have two heavyweight fights on the main card. One will reflect the aspects of heavyweight MMA we enjoy. The other will reflect the Lovecraftian despair that forces us to look away.