By Laurence W. Holmes–
(CBS) Back when the Ronda Rousey/Holly Holm fight was announced, I was skeptical about whether Holm was ready for this fight. Considering that Holm had only had a few fights in the octagon, she seemed like an unlikely ouster to Rousey.
By beating Rousey on Saturday night in a fight in Australia, Holm becomes the first athlete to be a boxing world champion and an MMA world champion. Her ring — or in this case, octagon — generalship was superb. She fought the perfect fight, becoming a moving target that Rousey couldn’t coral. It reduced Rousey to a cartoonish Tazmanian Devil-esque attack that was met by Rousey having to eat left jabs all night. And in the fight’s final sequence, an off-balance Rousey found herself spun around twice and completely vulnerable to a vicious kick to the chops that dropped the champion and ended her reign.
When you look at how quickly Rousey has dispatched previous opponents, I was curious to see Rousey’s conditioning. This isn’t to say that Rousey isn’t in shape. She’s in tremendous shape, world-class shape, but there’s a difference between that and “fight shape.”
Ask any athlete who’s injured. They can run on treadmill, swim or do drills, but none of that is equivalent to game speed. Holm pushed Rousey beyond her limits and Rousey got sloppy.
Remember playing Mike Tyson’s Punch-Out? Remember how hard it was to get out of the first 90 seconds against Tyson? Every blow was a knockout. So you had to be patient, but if you made it out of the first 90 seconds, you had a chance to win.
Holm made it through, and now she’s champion, a deserving one.
I’m looking forward to the rematch. Rousey will do the work, and she’s proved to be a fast learner. It’s possible that Rousey put too much faith in how good of a striker she was becoming and put herself in danger by trying to stand toe-to-toe with someone who came in with a better striking resume.
You’re going to hear a lot of people making excuses for Rousey. There will be some using her popularity as a reason why she “wasn’t ready.”
“Ronda’s gone Hollywood,” they’ll say. The truth is that Rousey didn’t slack on her training. She just got beat. Holm and her team deserve credit for flawless execution of an excellent the game plan.
That’s why the post-fight was so disappointing. In the octagon, there was a rush to come to the aid of Rousey, instead of celebrating Holm.
Go back and look at UFC president Dana White putting the belt around Holm and then juxtapose that with every time he’s done it for Rousey. White’s actions in the octagon and in post-fight interviews were shameful. He acted as if someone had shot his dog.
I get it, Rousey means cash. She’s a star, no doubt about it, but you made the fight, Dana. If you didn’t think there was a chance for Holm to win, then you did UFC fans a disservice and offered them an inferior fight.
Styles make fights and Holm made history Saturday. All hail, Holly Holm!
Laurence Holmes hosts the Laurence Holmes Show on 670 The Score. Follow him on Twitter @LaurenceWHolmes.