I’m just going to go ahead and use this space today to ramble a bit about Ronda Rousey’s next professional rendezvous, as I’ve been having thoughts about it since I heard the news a few days ago.
Mainly, I’m dismayed.
Like the rest of the MMA-watching world, I’ve been waiting to see who Rousey would fight following her theatrical 34-second dispatching of Bethe Carreia on August 1. Also like most of the rest of the MMA-watching world, I assumed we were in for Part III of Rousey vs. Tate. (Cristiane “Cyborg” Justino’s been calling out Rousey, but their impasse over weight seems unbudgeable for the moment.)
So I was surprised when Rousey announced who she’s planning to fight this January at UFC 195. She’ll face an opponent who’s only been dedicated to MMA for two years. An opponent who’s only fought twice in the UFC, and who only has nine fights on her MMA record, total. We’re four months and a week out from early January. Could someone so inexperienced in MMA possibly get Rousey-ready by then?
I guess anything is possible. It’s possible that we’ll see an upset on January 2. But I don’t think it’s likely.
Southpaw Holly Holm and her kickboxing/boxing career first came to my attention in 2002, when I started following women’s boxing on WBAN.com. At some point, she wrapped up kickboxing and went on to box her way around four weight classes, picking up title belts at every stop. Then, in 2013, she hung up her boxing gloves to shift her attention to MMA. That was just two years ago. I repeat for the third time, that was just two years ago.
Holm, literally “The Preacher’s Daughter” from Albuquerque, New Mexico, is an experienced boxer and a formidable opponent in that sport. She’s comfortable with the contours of the ring, and she’s technically good on her feet. But in order to stand any chance (pun intended, yes) against Ronda Rousey, she has to stay on her feet on January 2.
Because so far? I haven’t seen that Holm has any ground game to speak of, and I don’t know why the UFC is giving we MMA fans this lopsided match-up for Rousey’s next fight. I’m dismayed because of that in and of itself, and I’m also dismayed because, as I said, I’ve been following Holm’s boxing career for 13 years. I feel like I know the girl, as long-time fans do. After Holm’s tremendous, decorated and highly-esteemed boxing career, I don’t want to see her get into the octagon to be finished off in less time than it takes me to take the trash out to the alley behind my house. I don’t want to see it. I don’t want to hear about it, either. Ronda Rousey? Holly Holm? In four months?
In four months, Rousey can sharpen her stand-up skills (have I mentioned that her striking coach was/is Lucia Rijker?), but Holm, the newcomer to MMA, will need years of grappling work and experience to raise her skill-set on the ground to Rousey-level proficiency. Rousey reigns on the ground. Okay, she reigns everywhere, but especially on the ground. (You know, that whole Olympic Judo thing of hers that preceded her MMA career….)
Holm needs to have a plan, and it should include honing her take-down defense between now and January. If she can keep her head, set the pace and control the fight with a highly technical boxing approach (not allowing the bout to become a brawl), and successfully ward off Rousey’s take-down attempts, then she’d have a chance. And I do believe a Holm win is a possibility. The fight will, after all, begin to Holm’s advantage… standing up.
She just has to stay standing up.
Guys, I’m a Holm fan in boxing. I’m a Rousey fan in MMA. I’m having a hard time reconciling the idea of the two of them in the octagon together. In my mind, they belong on their respective sides of the combat sports universe, where they each dominate. I’d heard Holm’s name thrown into the mix in talk about who Rousey could fight next, but I’ve never given Rousey vs. Holm a serious thought… at least not at this embryonic stage in Holm’s MMA career. It always seemed like something that could happen in the future. Is the future in four months?