UFC 193 will go down as a memorable event in many different ways. The stadium show that likely broke the promotion’s attendance record made sure it would go down in history before anyone even stepped into the octagon. Having a card headlined by four women did too. But it was the shocking results of the main event that will be etched in people’s mind for many years to come.
Things are going to be very different going forward for the combatants, and for the UFC.
Without further ado, let’s take a look at the real winners and losers from last night’s event in Melbourne.
Holly Holm – Wow. I can’t think of a single word that encapsulates my thoughts more than that. When Holm signed with the UFC, everyone wanted to see her fight Rousey. Striker vs. grappler. It was the perfect matchup. Her first two fights in the octagon took a lot of the shine off of that though. So much so that many were unhappy that she was given a title shot over Miesha Tate. But The Preacher’s Daughter proved all the doubters wrong tonight, and she did it with her two greatest weapons – her striking, and her mental toughness.
Holm didn’t let Ronda get inside her head with her shenanigans at the weigh-ins. Nor did she when Rousey refused to touch gloves before the bout. She came out and took it to the champ right away, peppering her with straight lefts and nice combos while mostly avoiding Ronda’s own attacks. Holly did get clipped here and there, but she was the one doing the lion’s share of the damage. Holm was taken down once, but weathered the storm just fine. When she came out in the second, she stuck with the gameplan until she hurt the champ.
Then she waited. Waited until Ronda was in the perfect spot to eat one of her most lethal strikes, a head kick. She connected right on the button, and Rousey was out. The huge underdog had done it. She had defeated the biggest star in the sport with no controversy. Holm did her job. And it was absolutely wonderful to watch.
Joanna Jedrzejczyk – Joanna has a special kind of charisma. From the moment she walks through the curtain until the time they strap the belt back around her waist, she exudes complete confidence. This was something she needed to have against Letourneau, who turned out to be a very tough opponent. Jedrzejczyk didn’t let a close first round change her gameplan in the slightest. In fact, she only got stronger as the fight went on. While the bout didn’t feature a finish or anything even close to one, I think it was a fight that casual and hardcore fans can really appreciate. I certainly hope that is the case anyway, because Joanna deserves to be a star. She carries herself like one, and she certainly fights like one. She’s one of my favorite things about the UFC right now.
Valerie Letourneau – Yes, she lost the fight. The scorecards weren’t close. But she gained some things that are extremely valuable – things like respect, and admiration. Many fans, and even media, didn’t know a lot about the Canadian fighter coming into UFC 193. She had three UFC fights, and won them all. She had fought at 135 and was now at 115. That’s about it. But she fought her heart out for all five rounds against a very formidable striker, and did her share of damage. She’s pretty slick on the feet. Her leg was purple and her eye was messed up, but she still persevered and made the co-main event one of the best fights I’ve seen in a while. She deserves props for that, even if she isn’t taking a belt home.
Robert Whittaker – I usually scoff at fighters moving up a division. I automatically think they’re going to be smaller than their opponents, and they’re not going to hit as hard. Well, Whittaker is certainly helping me to change my perceptions a bit. He looked excellent against Uriah Hall, handily outstriking a guy that is known for his standup game. He could move into the middleweight top 10 when the next rankings come out. And he’s only 24. Whittaker has a very, very bright future at 185.
Ronda Rousey – Where do we start? Rousey’s invincible aura is gone. Her star power is undoubtedly diminished as a result of the loss. Obviously she doesn’t have a belt to carry around any more either. But what concerned me most about her performance was that she just didn’t fight like she normally does. Occasionally, we see obscenely talented grapplers go away from their strengths when they start to find success with their hands. Fedor Emelianenko was guilty of it late in his career, though he got away with it for a while. Demian Maia was definitely guilty of it until he dropped to 170. And it really, really looked like Rousey may have fallen into the same trap – she fell in love with her striking. And it was her undoing in Melbourne.
Will the loss snap her out of that and help her re-focus on doing the things that got her to the pinnacle of the sport? I’m hoping it will. Will she get a rematch with Holm? Undoubtedly. No matter which way you look at it though, Ronda’s loss to Holm, especially with the way it went down, was one of the most damaging losses in the history of the sport. Almost everyone loses eventually, so it’s not like she can’t recover from this. But it might take a while.
Jared Rosholt and Stefan Struve – I get accused of being a strange fight fan all the time, because I enjoy the grinding style more often than not. Jon Fitch and Jake Shields are two of my favorite fighters, for example. But Jared Rosholt is not. He doesn’t grind. He gets fighters down and does next to nothing. So when you combine that with a fighter that showed absolutely nothing for two rounds, and slightly less than nothing in the third, what does that add up to? An absolutely terrible fight. Both Rosholt and Struve need to go back to the drawing board and figure out what they can do to increase their output. Because no one wants to watch the display either man put on in Etihad Stadium last night ever again.
The UFC – The promotion is notoriously short on stars. They need fighters that are more than great athletes or that are technically amazing – they need personalities. Rousey is the biggest personality they have, and she had emerged as their biggest draw. She was their key to mainstream coverage. Now? Things aren’t looking as bright.
One loss isn’t enough to shake off genuine fans, even if it was a devastating one. Hell, a rematch with Holm will probably still do huge business. But a segment of the fairweather, casual (but paying) fans are going to spend their money elsewhere after what they saw Holm do to her. The loss is going to hurt the bottom line for the UFC in the long run, undoubtedly. This was not a good outcome for the promotion.
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