2015 was a wonderful time to be a fan of the UFC and of mixed-martial arts as a whole. Conor McGregor was ascending to his throne as the company's newest Box Office sensation. The Irishman brought mainstream attention to his world title fight with Jose Aldo, only for the Brazilian pound-for-pound king to pull out of the bout citing an injury just days before. Chad Mendes would step in for Aldo on short notice at UFC 189, but it was the Notorious One who would dispatch his opponent, picking up the interim UFC Featherweight Championship in the process.
While McGregor was climbing to the mountaintop, there was one star who was shining brighter than any other eight years ago. That was ‘Rowdy’ Ronda Rousey. In the California-native’s first ever fight in the UFC, she headlined the show back at UFC 157 ahead of established stars such as Dan Henderson and Robbie Lawler. From there, main event after main event followed, and Rousey embarked on a dominant run unlike anything we had ever seen before.
Throughout a one-and-a-half-year period between February 2014 and August 2015, the UFC Women’s Bantamweight champion defended her belt four times and was in the Octagon a grand total of 130 seconds. The run catapulted her to superstardom and earned her starring roles in movies such as Fast & Furious 7, Entourage and The Expendables 3.
Her next title defense was announced against Holly Holm at UFC 193 in Melbourne, Australia, and the challenger was considered an afterthought. But no one told The Preacher’s Daughter that.
Holly Holm initially made her name in the world of professional boxing. She has been named a two-time female Fighter of the Year by the acclaimed Ring Magazine and has held multiple world championships across of multiple divisions. She made her move to MMA in 2011 and embarked on an unbeaten 9-0 run throughout her first four years.
Despite the fact that she was unbeaten, Holm was ranked just number eight in the world prior to her title shot against Rousey. As such, websites such as OddsChecker, which compares MMA odds and free offers, made the reigning champion a huge favorite to retain her crown. But some experts thought that the challenger would be a bad matchup for the champion primarily thanks to her striking prowess. Even still, the Rowdy one was being billed as the second coming of Mike Tyson, and even the boldest of experts predicted that Holm would come up short in her efforts. But Holly Holm is made of sterner stuff...
The build-up to the bout was relatively low key and respectful. Rousey was being treated like the star she was, while Holm was quietly flying under the radar as she prepared for her maiden world title shot. That all changed at the weigh-in, however, when the champion got in the challenger's face, pushing her on stage and stoking the fires for the bout.
On fight night, Holm entered the Octagon as a huge betting underdog. But once the fight got underway, it was unclear to see why. Her superior striking ability comfortably kept Rousey at distance, and the champion was unable to close the gap to her longer, rangier opponent. The challenger's underrated takedown defense kept her out of trouble and away from Rousey’s daunted armbar.
Throughout the first round, The Preacher’s Daughter tagged the champion a number of times, but the bout headed into a second round, and it was then that the damage was done. Holm continued to pepper Rousey from the outside, and it was clear that the champion was running out of ideas. Rousey would attempt to grab hold of the challenger a number of times, but on this night, Holm was simply the better fighter.
After 59 seconds of the second round, Holm landed a head kick which left the champion stricken on the canvas. She finished the bout with a couple of deadly hammer fists and, while the world was stunned at what they had just witnessed, Holly Holm celebrated her deserved victory.
On that night in Melbourne, Holm became the first fighter in history to hold world championships in both the UFC and the world of boxing. And it was a night none of us will ever forget.
This article first appeared on JACKSONWINK.COM on 3/12/2023
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