The mixed martial arts world was rocked, Friday, Aug. 21, when UFC women’s bantamweight champion “Rowdy” Ronda Rousey announced on “Good Morning America” that she would be facing “The Preacher’s Daughter” Holly Holm at UFC 193 in Melbourne, Australia, on Nov 14.
This is a surprise to fans for a few different reason, one being the elephant in the room that is Rousey vs. Miesha Tate III.
The former Strikeforce women’s champion supposedly earned a title fight after she earned a decision win over Jessica “Evil” Eye. Many speculated the fight would co-main event a super card – headlined by the featherweight unification title bout between champion Jose Aldo and interim champ Conor McGregor – in AT&T Stadium in Dallas. Those rumors were dashed after UFC officials announced that McGregor v. Aldo would fight at UFC 194 in Las Vegas with the middleweight title bout between Chris Weidman (champion) and Luke Rockhold serving as the co-headliner.
With no hint of Rousey vs. Tate III, rumors started swirling that the fight would be saved for a later date. During this time, Holm had just defeated Marion Reneau in a fight where she felt her performance was sub-par and didn’t necessarily merit a title shot, though UFC officials felt differently and now fans have Rousey vs. Holm slated for November 14.
Some fans showed excitement while others looked at Holm and shook their heads. It’s similar to when Floyd Mayweather Jr. announced he would face Andre Berto next month in what is scheduled to be his last professional boxing bout.
While some critics may agree with Holm that she hasn’t earned a title bout, The Preacher’s Daughter has been a candidate for Rousey, even before she stepped foot in the octagon.
In her UFC debut, Holm earned a split-decision win over Raquel Pennington. At the time fans felt “Holm was good, but maybe she’s not ready.” The Preacher’s Daughter started her MMA career in 2011. She found success early, finishing six of her first seven fights. In April 2014, she finished Juliana Werner in the fifth round to become the Legacy Fighting Championships’ women’s bantamweight champion.
While Holm’s MMA resume is small compared to some fighters competing in the octagon, her combat sports career experience is deep, particularly in the boxing realm. From 2002-13, Holm went 33-2-3, won numerous championships in three different weight classes and earned many accolades. She also has a few professional kickboxing bouts to her credit.
Sure Holm excels in the striking department, but what about her ground game and grappling? She’s made strides while training with Jackson’s MMA – not to mention proficient submission specialists such as Jon “Bones” Jones, Michelle “The Karate Hottie” Waterson and Donald “Cowboy” Cerrone – but will she be ready to contend with someone with the grappling credentials as Rousey? Maybe, maybe not. But critics could argue that fighters can’t prepare for the Rowdy one.
Whether or not Holm has the experience, she’s still someone that Rousey hasn’t faced, which is something the UFC can capitalize on from a business stance. Tate may be the No. 1 contender in the eyes of fans, but the world has already seen that fight – twice. Critics were already speculating when Rousey was going to finish Tate.
But fans can look at Holm and come up with different scenarios. Will Holm try to keep the fight standing or go to the ground? Will Rousey want to stand and trade with The Preacher’s Daughter? Will cardio be a factor?
This fight also breaks the stigma that surrounds boxers who transition to mixed martial arts. Critics will argue that boxers wouldn’t succeed in MMA because all they know is striking and it would take years for them to bring their grappling on par with most professional fighters. Holm is showing the world that boxers can be as successful in MMA if they put in the extra time and effort to perfect their skill set.
And for those who are waiting for Rousey vs. Tate III. Don’t worry, we’ll see those two fight again. I’ll continue to use this analogy until the day I die, but those two are like Jim Kirk and Khan Noonien Singh – that’s a “Star Trek” reference for those who don’t know. Rousey and Tate are two rivals who are destined to cross paths over and over again. I’m sure this fight would have happened in December had the UFC been able to AT&T Stadium. It’s a such a good rivalry that you want to hold it in a big venue.
But when Rousey vs. Tate III happens, it may not be for the championship. Besides Holm facing Rousey for the title, Tate is set to face Amanda Nunes at UFC 195 in what could be a title eliminator bout. Nunes is on a hot streak and could pose a challenge to Tate’s contender status. As Joe Rogan likes to say,” Anything can happen in MMA.”
I’m sure fans are disappointed with Rousey announcing Holm as her opponent, but they shouldn’t shake their fists in anger just yet. Rousey vs. Holm could be a strong main event that the UFC could easily compliment with a good main card with 4-5 fights. UFC 190 was good, yet seven bouts – including Rousey vs. Bethe Correia – is too long, especially for casual MMA fans.
But if it’s promoted the right away and both fighters can get in a solid training camp, Rousey vs. Holm could be a fantastic start for the UFC in 2016 and a chance for both fighters to take their legacies to the next level.