A few months ago, I lamented the state of female Mixed Martial Arts, particularly that of the 115-pound division, because the division’s champ (I’m just going to call her Joanna Champion, because everyone agrees, her included, that spelling her last name is just too damn hard) was engaging in a series of squash matches that were essentially unfair to the rest of her peers. Although her opponent in last Saturday’s title defense, Valérie Létourneau, managed to at least not fall down, it was still a one-sided beatdown, in which we saw a game but completely overmatched opponent get picked apart over the course of 25 minutes. Was Joanna’s aura of invincibility weakened by not finishing her opponent? Not at all. In fact, it seems she suffered a fractured hand during the fight, but kept throwing technical, straight punches, and wrecking her opponent’s lead leg, effectively eliminating all movement.
Sure, it wasn’t the star-making performance the UFC needed out of one of its most brutal finishers, but it confirmed that the talent gap between the champ and challengers at 115 pounds is still massive. One challenger lies in wait in Claudia Gadelha, who lost to the champion by split decision in a very competitive fight, but after that… well, it’s pretty barren out there, and I don’t see anyone in the top 10 of the division that won’t get absolutely smashed.
But that’s not the matchup everyone’s talking about. No, we’re still hearing about the “head kick heard around the world,” and I’m pretty sure Sunday morning saw the highest amount of Google searches for the word “hubris,” well, ever. If you didn’t know about it yet, Ronda Rousey lost her title to the
undefeated Holly Holm. And it wasn’t just a loss. It was an embarrassment. Not the Anderson Silva type embarrassment, where you clown around with a serious opponent until he knocks you out cold. This was much worse. Rousey decided to talk some 11th hour trash with Holm, behave rather aggressively at weigh-ins, then come in with not only the worst game plan on earth, but also a complete inability to adapt during the fight.
I could go over the technical details, but that’s been done to death. In the end, Holly Holm fought the perfect fight; her movement was nothing short of brilliant and designed to catch Rousey doing what she always does: bull rush for the clinch to either throw strikes or throw bodies. What’s more interesting is the public’s reaction. On one side, we’ve got the majority of the Internet enjoying a bit of good old fashioned Schadenfreude, eager to pile on to the vitriol being tossed Rousey’s way, blaming her loss on everything from poor training, to poor in-fight coaching and “lubegate.” I won’t even explain that last one because it has to do with a Maxim interview.
Former Rousey opponents have poured on the hate, expressing joy at her losing in such vicious fashion, completely disregarding the fact that she is the reason behind the biggest paydays of their careers. Fans are creating memes reminiscent of the ones mocking Rashad Evans’ face when he was brutally floored by a Lyoto Machida straight left. Yet this feels crueller. Sure, Rousey had bought into her own hype, and seemed to read her own press clippings when she probably should’ve been working head movement and footwork. And there’s nothing the public loves more than to lob scathing heaps of vitriol on struggling celebrities while hypocritically following their every move when they’re on top.
But this isn’t the biggest upset in MMA history. Sadly, that distinction still belongs to Canadian phenom George St-Pierre, who essentially brain-farted his way to being stopped without ever getting a strike off by pasta enthusiast Matt Serra way back at UFC 69. Holly Holm had a clear path to victory, one that was written out in the striker’s handbook. Control distance, counter, move. Rousey rushed in, made Holm’s punches more powerful than they had any right to be, and had no answer for some pretty rudimentary shit. Except for that straight left, which was Cro Cop-esque in its execution.
The simple fact of the matter is that we’ve seen this type of scenario play out so often, it’s just plain boring to focus on the loser. Sylvester Stallone wrote the blueprint on this exact storyline. Just watch Rocky 3, which is accurate down to the pro wrestling appearance. When Tyson lost to James “Buster” Douglas, the new champ was essentially dismissed and soundly KO’d in his first title defense against Evander Holyfield after electing to avoid an immediate rematch (because Tyson and Don King are pretty much batshit crazy).
But here we are again, with a dominant champion knocked down a peg, and the general public in disbelief that it could have let its faith in one fallible human being reach the fanatic level that it did. Holm is getting her share of attention from the “MMA media” (a term I find risible, as it consists primarily of a bunch of glorified bloggers, writing opinion pieces on fucking retweets), but it’s doubtful that she will captivate the unwashed masses the way Rousey did. She’s a nice person and an accomplished athlete. Fuck it, isn’t Ronda sleeping with a guy who beat his wife? – JP
(JP Sadek brings his intellect and wit to a site overrun with opinionated, yet passionate yahoos. After successful stints with such acts as The Dead City Rebels, Longtimers, and Tokyo Sex Whale, JP now drums for a fantastic group of doom rockers, Loviatar. When he’s not taking on the life of a family man or ravenous fight fan, JP is hard at work as owner/operator of Wolf Lake Studios, in Lac-Des-Loups, Quebec. Every Wednesday night, HEAD ON A SWIVEL brings a vibrant, yet grounded view on everything from music, the ever-growing world of MMA, politics, art, and everything in between. Check it!)