Holm delivers rare second-round knockout over Rousey in UFC 193

The mixed martial arts world was rocked at Ultimate Fighting Championship 193 when underdog Holly Holm knocked out undefeated bantamweight champion Ronda Rousey one minute into the second round of the fight. It was less of a competition and more of a convincing display of technical prowess by Holm. A UFC-record attendance of 56,214 spectators in Melbourne, Australia, watched the defending champion fall.

Before entering the UFC, Holly Holm was a 19-time world champion boxer winning 33 of her 38 bouts, which include nine knockouts in three different weight divisions. She grew up a multi-sport athlete near Albuquerque, New Mexico, and started kickboxing in her senior year of high school to improve her aerobics conditioning. Her coach Mike Winkeljohn has been in her corner ever since her early days in kickboxing, honing her talent as her focus shifted toward professional boxing.

Holm transitioned into MMA in 2011, chopping her opponent down with vicious leg kicks en route to a second-round victory in her debut match. She dances around her prey, always on her toes, closing distance only to prod them with sharp jabs, then shuffles around her staggering foe; all this is done to set up a straight left to the jaw or a swift kick to the temple. Her 9-0 record leading up to UFC 193 featured six knockouts, a much higher percentage than in her boxing days. The 34-year-old had conquered one sport and was determined to climb to the top of another.

Rousey began her combat career in judo, much like her mother, AnnMaria De Mars. De Mars was the first American to win gold at the World Judo Tournament in 1984 before earning her Ph.D. in Educational Psychology from the University of California, Riverside six years later. Alongside judo master Jimmy Pedro, De Mar trained Rousey to become an Olympic medalist, winning bronze in the 2008 Beijing Games. While Rousey is proud of this accomplishment, she retired from judo at 21 and moved on to MMA because, according to her bio on UFC.com, she “...didn’t really want to work in a conventional field of work.” Rousey cruised to a victory in her professional debut, locking in an armbar just 25 seconds into the match. This tactic soon became her signature move as she went on to win eight of her next 11 competitions via submission.

Miesha Tate was the only opponent to ever reach the second round against Rousey prior to her bout with Holm. The two battled it out at UFC 168 two years ago with Rousey putting her title on the line. They shared similar attacking styles highlighted by superb grappling skills with agility on the ground. Tate’s flurry punches and ability to escape the armbar pushed Rousey to three rounds, but Rousey eventually coiled around Tate’s left arm, forcing a tapout.

One by one, challengers stepped into the Octagon only to submit to Rousey’s will; her most notable fight featured Cat Zingano surrendering so fast that the entire fight could fit in a single Instagram video. Hollywood latched onto the 28-year-old as she skyrocketed to worldwide fame, starring in major action films, magazine spreads and making talk show appearances. One month before UFC 193, Rousey detailed Holm’s game plan against her on The Tonight Show. As if staring into Jimmy Fallon’s eyes produced a “That’s So Raven vision” in Rousey, it went exactly as she predicted.

Touching gloves with the contender is normally a sign of respect, but the title-holder refused to do so seconds before the event after a minor dust-up during the official weigh-in the day before turned Rousey bitter. As the bell rang, the gladiators met in the center of the arena, and it became clear Rousey altered her style to match Holm’s striking punch for punch, rather than taking the boxer to the ground and locking in the armbar. Holm stuck to her strategy by gliding around the Octagon, using her slight reach advantage to hold the champ at bay.

Rousey chased Holm around the cage as the match dragged on. Already the second-longest fight of her career two minutes in, Rousey let her guard down as she leaned in, exposing her chin to a Holm step-in left elbow. Rousey countered with a takedown and was suddenly in a favorable position, only for Holm to maneuver back onto her feet, where she was greeted by a thunderous applause. In the fourth minute, Holm landed blow after blow squarely on Rousey’s nose and as Rousey lunged at her, she evaded the swipe, lifted the reigning champion and slammed her to the mat, beating Rousey at her own game. Wise enough not to commit to the ground game, Holm let Rousey off the mat and exchanged fists for a brief moment before the round concluded.

Round two was much of the same with Rousey failing to protect herself from the onslaught of jabs and straights. Thirty seconds in, Rousey crept toward the challenger and telegraphed a left hook, which Holm ducked right under. The champ stumbled to one knee and popped up looking dazed, but still advanced toward her opponent. Holm pounded her with a straight left, tossed her aside and when Rousey tried to regain her composure, she stepped into a vicious left kick to the head, knocking her unconscious and forcing the referee to mercifully end the match.

With the win, Holm simultaneously became the first fighter ever to win a world title in boxing and MMA in his or her career as well as the first to dethrone Rousey. The fact that the latter statement is less often repeated than the former, proves the now-former champion deserved all the praise she was awarded. Rousey had planned time away from fighting to fulfill more acting roles with UFC 200 in July 2016 tentatively scheduled as her return date. Letting her first loss simmer will only further add hype to a potential rematch with the new bantamweight champion.