The Preacher’s Daughter does women’s boxing proud.

At the end of August, I wrote about the upcoming MMA fight between defending UFC Bantamweight champion Ronda Rousey and her challenger, Holly Holm, and I was less than pleased. That was when the fight was set for UFC 195, which would take place on January 2, 2016.

On November 12, last week Thursday, it came to my attention that the fight was going to happen in two days… nearly two months ahead of the original date. How I missed that memo, I don’t know, but the change threw me. I went to Facebook with my consternation, which I don’t often do.

Returning to my train of thought: In that first post about the upcoming fight, I expressed doubt, though I did say:

“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.”

But I wrote that, as I said, in the midst of doubt. Now that we know about Holm’s plan and how she carried it out with winning precision, I’m back to say that I was wrong. I’d been hasty in writing that first blog post, and hasty in posting on Facebook when I found out that the fight would happen in two days. In both cases, I didn’t give myself time to mentally adjust to the situation. I’d fallen into the pervasive notion that Rousey’s game was bullet-proof.

Hindsight is a wondrous thing. The question was never about the strength of Holm’s ground game. The question was about the strength of Rousey’s stand-up game.

It was my own cowardice that fueled my doubt. That first post was me imposing my own fears onto the situation. I wasn’t so much afraid for Holm as I was afraid for myself; after following Holm’s professional fighting career for over 10 years, I didn’t want to see her lose this fight. But because I’d been following Holm’s career for over 10 years, I should never have doubted her. I guess it was just that the bulldozer of WIN Rousey was riding didn’t appear to be running out of gas. I freaked out before I could remind myself about Holm’s wealth of ring experience and her exceptional athletic ability.

Now the world realizes that women’s boxing veteran Holm is a formidable presence in any ring or cage, and to underestimate her is a mistake.

After finding out that the fight would take place in two days, I dove into the internets and dragged out the video of the Rousey/Holm weigh-in. After watching it, all I could think was, “What was that, exactly?” What was that post-weigh-in outburst erupting from Rousey’s mouth… that one about Holm being “fake,” etc.?

And then my respect for Rousey slipped a little, and my admiration along with it. I knew that the kind of swagger Rousey performed is sort of par for the course leading up to a fight, but again, I’m writing from my personal bias toward Holm. (Delayed disclaimer: it’s difficult to write objectively about this given my long-time history as a Holm fan.) I was already on #TeamHollyHolm, but after watching that weigh-in, I prayed that Holm would win. On Saturday morning, the day of the fight, I silently dedicated my Body Combat workout to Holm before class started.

Watching the fight now, I feel foolish for having worried about Holly “The Preacher’s Daughter” Holm. (She’s “The Preacher’s Daughter” because she actually is a preacher’s daughter, by the way.) How could I have doubted her when I was so familiar with her talent and toughness? When I knew the depth of her confidence and the breadth of her professional boxing record? Holm is a multi-world champion trained by one of the best combat sports training teams in the country. I shouldn’t have aggrieved this bout, especially since I’d viewed training videos of Holm such as the one on this page:

http://www.mmafighting.com/2014/4/3/5577052/holly-holm-training-camp-journal

Holm is meticulous about her own training, dedicated and focused beyond the scope of what seems humanly possible, and she’s merciless on herself. Mike Winkeljohn, her coach, couldn’t be harder on her than than she is on herself.

 

Holly Holm

Holly Holm

 

I don’t know what happened to Rousey in that fight. She seemed ill-prepared to face a combat athlete of Holm’s caliber. She also looked tired by the end of the first round, as if she didn’t train hard enough. Had she been too busy? Did she take her training less seriously because she assumed that she’d score another first-round win? Or could it be that Holm is simply the superior fighter? Holm is smart, calm, humble, and mature, all of which goes into her arsenal of badass, and none of which I’ve seen Rousey display… yet. Rousey is young. She has time to mature. I almost pitied her as she panicked (when she realized what she was up against) and chased, careened, and flailed around the octagon after Holm. It was a Rousey I’d never seen, but it was a Holm I’d seen time and again, and now that the MMA-watching world has seen it, too, the MMA game has been changed.

Obviously, Rousey is a supremely talented combat athlete, as well, and she’s certainly deserved her victories in combat sports. But so has Holm… and Holm has many more victories than Rousey over a much longer career in professional fighting. The fact that most of her career has been in boxing rather than in MMA is irrelevant.

I’m just happy that Holm won. That’s my girl.

In closing, enjoy this adorable pic I found of Holm with her husband:

 

Holly Holm with husband Jeff Kirkpatrick

Holly Holm with husband Jeff Kirkpatrick

Rousey vs. Holm WTF.

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.

 

thatasianlookingchick.com-RouseyVsHolmUFC195

 

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?