Editor’s Note: The following is a collaboration of the LWOS MMA department.
There were few bigger stories in Mixed Martial Arts this year than what has been accredited by many in the MMA community as the “greatest upset of all time.” This distnction goes to Holly Holm’s dethroning of UFC Women’s Bantamweight Champion and MMA’s biggest star, Ronda Rousey.
A former multiple time world boxing champing, Holm entered the UFC undefeated in MMA as a highly touted contender. She fought twice early in 2015 and earning victories over Marion Reneau and Raquel Pennington. Those victories, along with those she had from previous years, were enough to see Holm be awarded a shot at Rousey and the UFC Women’s Bantamweight Title.
Female Fighter of the Year – Holly Holm
The most attended UFC event in history, UFC 193, would take place on November 15, 2015 at Etihad Stadium in Melboune, Australia. In front of more than 56,000 people, Holly Holm, an 8-1 underdog, delivered the “headkick heard ‘round the world.” Her kick resulted in knocking “the most dominant female athlete ever” unconscious to earn the title of new UFC women’s bantamweight champion.
Going into the fight, few gave Holly Holm much of a chance. Rousey was the darling of the UFC, with her roles in blockbuster hollywood movies, and appearing on Good Morning America, Fox Sports 1, and ESPN to promote her fights. UFC color commentator Joe Rogan even said that Rousey wasn’t a once in a generation, or a once in a lifetime fighter, but said that she was a “once ever” mixed martial artist.
What many forget about that headkick and the knockout of Rousey was that this was no fluke. The way Holm dismantled Rousey in the first round was nothing short of astounding. She dominated Rousey in much the same way that Rousey had dominated so many other fighters previously. Rousey was staggered, and down 10-9 on all three judge’s scorecards, even before Holm landed that massive kick. Prior to that fateful night in Melbourne, no other woman had won a round against Rousey, and only one other, Miesha Tate, had even survived through the end of the first.
No doubt relying on her previous boxing experience, Holm proved her dominance in the stand up game. At times it seemed she was just toying with Rousey, easily avoiding the champ’s punches and landing hard shots in the counter game. When Rousey went for take downs she was able to defend well, and avoided the dangerous armbars that had meant the end for so many fallen Rousey opponents. Instead Holm continued on the attack and left Rousey as the one searching for answers against a more dominant foe. Those answers would never come.
With the win, Holm has taken over the role as the face of women’s mma, with her own appearances on Good Morning America, ESPN, and other mainstream media. Her next fight is highly anticipated, though it is unlikely to be a rematch with Rousey, as Rousey takes some time away from the sport. Still the fact that a women’s mma fight, without Rousey, will have this kind of hype is great for Holm, great for the UFC, and great for fans of Mixed Martial Arts. The victory has created a new star, and made for a number of intriguing potential title matches in a division that appeared incapable of producing a true challenger prior to Holm.
The moment will forever live on as one of the most significant in MMA history, and is only made more impressive by the fact she did it in front of the largest ever UFC crowd, as an 8-1 underdog, against “the most dominant female athlete ever” and for that Holly Holm is awarded our 2015 Female Fighter of The Year.
Main Photo: MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA – NOVEMBER 15: (R-L) Holly Holm kicks Ronda Rousey in their UFC women’s bantamweight championship bout during the UFC 193 event at Etihad Stadium on November 15, 2015 in Melbourne, Australia. (Photo by Jeff Bottari/Zuffa LLC/Zuffa LLC via Getty Images)