There are great fighters in every division, what’s rarer than that though is a great fighter that is truly dominant. There’s two sides to dominance though, at its best it can be breath-taking and awe-inspiring, almost startling. However, more often than not, a fighter too dominate will eventually find themselves on the other end of something just as startling: reality.
The history of combat sports is littered with stories of the unbeatable being beaten, the arrogant being humbled and the untouchable being destroyed. Though it may have been hard to predict at the time, the story of ‘Rowdy’ Ronda Rousey is no different to all of those memorable tales.
In fact, it almost followed the script to an absolute tee. As Rousey made the walk to the cage for her now unforgettable fight against Holly Holm, in many ways the writing was on the wall.
Rousey had been overly animated in the final days before fight night and it showed even more prominently when contrasted with Holm’s calm, cool and collected attitude. It didn’t seem that Rousey was entering in peak condition either and that was understandable considering all of the time she had spent on things other than fighting.
I say all of these factors now and they were clear to me on that memorable November night last year, however, I still expected the dominant champion to prevail as she had on the previous twelve occasions. As the fight began though, it was suddenly clear that this wouldn’t be another one of those nights, it would in fact be a very different experience for the previously supreme divisional queen.
Holly Holm Shuts Down Ronda Rousey
Holm would comprehensively shut down all of Rousey’s attacks, blistering her with hard, fast and accurate left hands. For just the second time in her career, Rousey would be leaving the first round, this was very different to that previous encounter with rival Miesha Tate though.
‘Rowdy’ would be greeted at her stool by her coach who frantically cried instructions, panic was suddenly etched across Rousey’s bloodied face. Though Holm was hitting hard, it was reality that hit harder. Rousey wasn’t unbeatable or untouchable, far from it and worst of all, Ronda now knew that herself.
For all of Rousey’s prior greatness, it was undeniably just a matter of time in the second round. Unable to adapt, Rousey continued to bravely walk into the eye of the storm, getting battered each and every time by the brilliant Holm.
Wobbled and rocked, Rousey was out on her feet and Holm quickly deleted the second half of that issue, landing a head kick to flatten Rousey before closing the show with violent hammerfists. It was a stunning visual. The sublime champion that had been celebrated with superlatives across culture had been stopped in her tracks in brutal fashion.
As much as the responses to the result were telling about society, those that have watched MMA long enough likely wasn’t quite as stunned. History suggests that in MMA, it’s always just a matter of time. As Rousey so easily dismissed her opponents heading into the fateful November fight in Australia, the truth was that the chances of an upset only grew.
Dominance is great but rarely ends well, fighters naturally become comfortable and sometimes can compete with an almost naive brashness.
Rousey Is Not Yet Finished
Fortunately for Rousey though, her story isn’t yet finished. In fact, the biggest chapter may still be ahead. At UFC 207, Rousey takes on the vicious new champion Amanda Nunes in a true test of her greatness, a legacy fight at every level. Rousey should be commended for everything she has done to this point and even for simply taking such a tough fight after thirteen months out.
Fortunately, Rousey is special and whilst dominance may have led to her inevitable downfall, it’s the talent that made her dominant that she needs to display in this fight that could potentially define her. Luckily for Rousey, she has the chance to write one more chapter before it’s too late and that chapter starts at UFC 207.
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