Holly Holm Defeats Ronda Rousey

Sunday Chess Problem is taking the week off. But in other sporting news, Holly Holm defeated Ronda Rousey in their big fight on Saturday.

I've been a casual MAA fan for a while, and I like Ronda Rousey, so I actually bought the Pay-Per-View to watch the fight. Now, the thing about fighters is that they seem unbeatable right up until someone beats them. Chuck Liddell was untouchable for several years, then Quinton Jackson knocked him out. Anderson Silva was embarrassing everyone he faced, until he got too cocky against Chris Weidman. Then Weidman won the rematch too. Now it's Rousey's turn. She finally faced an opponent who fought her smart. Holm kept her at bay with her long arms and quick jab in the first round. Then she kicked Rousey in the head in the second and so much for that.

Even more remarkable is that Rousey said this on The Tonight Show prior to the fight:

“She's undefeated and an amazing athlete and I think the biggest threat, definitely, to me, especially on paper and stylistically,” Rousey told Jimmy Fallon. “She's the type of fighter that you have to be very, very patient with. I feel like she's gonna try and like, keep distance and keep far away from me and get me frustrated until a point I'll make a mistake and she can try and kick me in the head.”

“But it's not gonna go like that,” she added.

Actually, it went exactly like that.

One thing I've learned from watching MMA is that movie fighting is just ridiculous. We've all seen the movies where the bad guy is landing one haymaker after another on the good guy. Then the good guy grits his teeth, remembers his training, and rallies to win the fight. In real life, by contrast, if one big, tough guy hits another big, tough guy with a real bomb, the fight just ends. It's like flipping a switch.

On the other hand, movie fighting has great lines like this:

Skip ahead to the 6:10 mark to hear one of all-time favorite lines in a martial arts movie, from the otherwise awful Lionheart, starring Jean-Claude Van Damme.

Anyway, Rousey's previous title defense was back in August. I was in New York City for a few days at the time, but I wanted to watch the fight. Being in midtown Manhattan, I figured there were probably about a dozen sports bars within walking distance, so I asked at the front desk of the hotel where I was staying if they could recommend one. They directed me to an Irish pub just a block away.

So I walked over and had dinner. Of course, Rousey's fight was going to be the last of the night, so I settled in for a long evening. The restaurant rapidly filled up with other fight fans, and before long I was sharing my table with a middle-aged man and his teenaged son. We had about two hours to kill, and did so with a very pleasant chat. Turned out they were from California, and had just been in Cooperstown for the Baseball Hall of Fame induction ceremony. It was all very pleasant, and I found Dad to be calm and soft-spoken.

Now, Rousey's opponent was a Brazilian fighter named Bethe Correia. Trash-talking is de rigueur before the fight, and Rousey is no amateur at the art, but Correia was really obnoxious about it. Good trash-talking is cocky and funny, think Conor McGregor, but it shouldn't be mean. And Correia was just being mean. She called Rousey a fraud and suggested that Rousey would want to kill herself after the fight. This was in especially poor taste considering that Rousey's father committed suicide.

So there was a lot of bad blood between the two of them, and everyone in the restaurant was cheering for Rousey. Finally, the fight started. You could barely hear the announcers over the din in the restaurant. About fifteen seconds in Rousey landed a real shot.

And that was when my mild-mannered, soft-spoken dinner companion leapt up and shouted at the top of his lungs, “Yeah! Who's the fraud now you Brazilian b*tch!”

I missed the end of the fight (which was nineteen seconds away at that point) I was so taken aback. His son stared at him as well, as did most of the restaurant. Rousey continued her onslaught and my dinner companion kept shouting, turning red and firing spittle. When the referee stopped the fight everyone went nuts. A few seconds later my dinner companion sat down, completely calm once more, and said to me, sheepishly, “Sometimes I get excited during the fight.” Indeed!

I try to be a bit more clinical, but I do find MMA pretty engrossing. Boxing never did much for me, but MMA just seems to be so much more complex and interesting. Frankly, it's actually a lot safer than boxing, or even football for that matter. MMA fighters just don't take the repeated head trauma that characterize those other sports. The fights are generally just fifteen minutes and the official stops it immediately if one fighter starts getting into real trouble. It's not like boxing where you fight for forty-five minutes or until one fighter can't stand up anymore. If anything I've seen fights where I thought the referee was too quick to stop it.

Actually, that led to a funny moment on Saturday. The fights were taking place in Melbourne, Australia. In an earlier bout, one of the fighters was getting beat up pretty good, but clearly still had a lot of fight left in him. In the break between rounds the doctor checked him out and stopped the fight. The announcers were incensed. They felt that was a very questionable stoppage. One of them said something like, “I guess that's how they roll in Australia. No way a Vegas doctor would stop this fight.”

Back to the Rousey fight. The co-main event of the evening was a title bout in a different weight class between Joanna Jedrzejczyk and Valerie Letourneau. This is the first time both the main event and co-main event were both female fights. And those two fights were by far the most exciting and hard-fought of the night. Woman's MMA has come a long way.

I'm sure Rousey will be back, and when she returns I will get the Pay-Per-View to watch her. She's an amazing fighter and an amazing personality. Heck, Rocky lost that first fight to Mr. T, but he came back better than ever. Holly Holm, for her part, clearly deserved the win. This wasn't just some lucky sucker punch, after all.

For now, though, I'm mostly looking forward to the Jose Aldo-Conor McGregor fight in December.

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MAA fan? Like the famous equation solving bouts in Renaissance Italy? "With a quick cubic jab, Tartaglia has his opponent on his knees! The crowd goes wild!"

By Michael Weiss (not verified) on 17 Nov 2015 #permalink

I guess I just cannot get into sports where the goal is to injure your opponent. Kinda like human dog-fighting.

sean s.

By sean samis (not verified) on 17 Nov 2015 #permalink

What women's MMA has lacked all along was someone capable of beating Rousey in any given encounter, or what's the point? If Ali hadn't had Frazier, would he have been called "the Greatest"? How would we have known?

What's happened? Trying to see any post except this one gives me error 404 - not found, and the helpful text nginx.

By john harshman (not verified) on 19 Nov 2015 #permalink

Same here - Cant read the Ruse's book post - getting a 404 -not found

By Deepak Shetty (not verified) on 19 Nov 2015 #permalink

And its working now

By Deepak Shetty (not verified) on 19 Nov 2015 #permalink

"...MMA just seems to be so much more complex and interesting..."

I puzzle over that from time to time, but I'm not expert enough to resolve it in my head.

Part of it is timing, kicking and grappling tend to open up and slow down the action respectively and make it easier to see what's happening.

There's a lot of subtlety and strategy in boxing done properly--based on small angles and adjustments and very fast execution.

By Obstreperous A… (not verified) on 22 Nov 2015 #permalink