Written by @NickRiznerMMA
We’ve been duped. Not once, but twice.
The foggy haze of reality is skewed by the manipulation of outside influences. The hype machine shows us one version of the so-called facts, leaving us tainted by the details-presented and the details-withheld; blinded by the emotions that pull at our hearts and grasp at our souls.
We were first tricked by the UFC.
Ronda Rousey was made out to be invincible; a destructive combination of judo throws and armbars. Her boxing was getting better, as well. We saw the submission-master knocking people out and with increased precision. Over time, Rousey had become the immovable object and the unstoppable force. She had become a war within herself, having little to do with the other fighter in the cage, and everything to do with milestones, legacies, and one-upmanship.
How much faster? How much more spectacular? These were the questions on everyone’s minds. Not if… but how.
This is the reason why a lopsided three-rounder with Miesha Tate is viewed as a close fight. Why the smallest of successes and failures are magnified. When an dwarf goes toe-to-toe with a giant, the outcome is only part of the story. The rest lies within micro-victories. Tiny advantages. Caveats and side-notes.
Under this guise, our jaws were dropped by the sight before us. As our minds struggled to grasp what we were seeing, any illusion of truth was shattered. By footwork. By combinations. By a mastery of physical mechanics.
The result of this was two-fold. In order for logic to prevail, we needed to adjust our perception. We needed to tear down our known-world and build a new one upon its remains. To justify that which we had witnessed at UFC 193, there were only two possible explanations:
1. Ronda rousey is a fluke. A product of timing. A false idol forced upon us by marketing and matchmaking. The personification of a brick building that had crumbled to the ground, revealing a poorly designed infrastructure, simply awaiting the first strong wind to knock it to the ground.
2. Holly Holm is unstoppable. The champion we were promised with Rousey. An undefeated, unstoppable, combat machine. One that carries the mental fortitude and unwavering will to remain a figurehead at the top of both a division and a movement. Not just a strong wind, but a hurricane force gale, capable of knocking down any and all structures that stand in its way.
Both are lies, and thus, the blame for the second deception lies solely with ourselves.
It was the visceral reaction to our brains’ inability to comprehend an unprecedented event. A momentary lapse of judgement. One that led us to believe a rematch would go the same way as the original. That Rousey was simply outmatched and that Holm would beat her ten times out of ten.
A theory that was erased upon the re-watching of the fight.
This time, there was no delusion of dominance. No assuredness that Rousey could not lose and no underestimation of Holm’s abilities. Just a fight between two world-class competitors, viewed with fresh eyes.
Upon review, it became clear that Rousey’s limitation was not a physical one. She went toe-to-toe with an extremely decorated boxing champion and got the best of the early exchanges. Holm angled away from some shots, but ate a couple and did little in the way of offense.
As the fight turned to Holly’s favor, every shot she landed was a counter. A frustrated Rousey ignored technique and charged forward; overaggressive and reckless. Holm took advantage, delivering head shots to a stationary target and slipping the increasingly desperate power shots from the champ.
The final blow was a microcosm of the entire fight. Rousey over-committed. Holm caught her with a counter hook. Rousey returned to her feet; hands-down and exhausted. Holm took advantage of the opportunity and finished it was a head kick.
These are mental mistakes. Mental mistakes that can be explained away by the pressure of the moment, the belief in one’s own hype, the underestimation of an opponent. All of this will be gone in the rematch. The weight of the responsibility will lie equally on both fighters’ shoulders, and the natural order of things will be restored.
Holm’s striking is elite, but her grappling is untested. Judo is the practice of using one’s momentum against them. By continuously pressing forward, Rousey eliminated her biggest advantage and played right into Holly Holm’s wheelhouse.
But make no mistake.
Rousey is one of the most competitive, headstrong, naturally-gifted athletes we have ever seen in the Octagon. An adjustment in strategy will allow her to avoid past mistakes, take advantage of the holes in Holly’s game, and utilize her strong chin and knockout power in the background of her gameplan, rather than make it a featured part of the fight.
Rousey has the intangibles to outperform Holm. But she needs to fight smart – not emotionally – an extremely achievable goal.
So remember this… Hindsight is 20/20. A rewatching of UFC 193 shed new light on the situation. The ability to reflect and adjust your stance is an important one, as stubbornness will only get you into trouble. Take it form someone who spent the past month believing the very opposite of this closing remark.
Ronda Rousey will defeat Holly Holm in the rematch.
Mark my words.Check out our latest podcast episode featuring Adam Milstead & Dinis "Sweetbread" Paiva