On this day in 2015, Holly Holm knocked out Ronda Rousey, in one of the biggest upsets in MMA history that forever changed the course of women’s MMA.
Before the fight between Ronda Rousey and Holly Holm at UFC 193, Rousey was seemingly invincible. She was undefeated with a record of 12-0, with 11 wins coming by finish in the first round. Prior to the Holm fight, she had finished her last three fights in a combined 64 seconds, two wins by KO and one by submission. Rousey was synonymous with the armbar submission, with some MMA fans and analysts using the saying “Death, taxes, Rousey by armbar” to illustrate how certain a Rousey victory was.
Holm, on the other hand, had two decision wins after getting into the UFC, one by controversial split decision. On paper, her record and fighting style did not present many problems to Rousey. Sure, Holm was a former world-champion boxer but that did not inspire confidence in her ability to avoid Rousey’s judo and the infamous armbar.
The fight started and Holm’s movement and striking were clearly immediately superior to Rousey’s. Holm was consistently landing hard punches and avoiding the clinch and any takedown attempts. As the fight continued on, Rousey got increasingly desperate, throwing wild punches while taking more and more damage.
Then the finish happened.
Holm threw a straight left hand which stunned Rousey, then finished the fight with a thunderous head kick that stopped Rousey and changed women’s MMA forever.
Suddenly the women’s bantamweight division had a new life after Holm’s upset win. There was no longer a dominant champion with very little competition. Instead, a fresh champion had many contenders and interesting matchups. Holm showed that multiple other women in the division had caught up with and surpassed Rousey in terms of skill.
Rousey was never the same after the Holm fight, she had lost her aura of invincibility and would take 13 months off before getting knocked out again by current champion Amanda Nunes. She left MMA after that fight and joined the WWE.
Rousey vs. Holm was a critical fight for women’s MMA as a whole. Rousey had been so dominant throughout her career, and for years none were able to match her. Holm showed the world that Rousey wasn’t the only skilled woman in multiple aspects of MMA anymore, and there were now many women on that level. Today, there are four women’s divisions in the UFC, with the strawweight division being one of the deepest and most exciting in the sport. Rousey paved the path for women, and Holm showed the world there are many skilled women worthy of UFC gold on any given night.