2. Holly Holm Over Ronda Rousey
In November 2015, Ronda Rousey was unequivocally the biggest star in MMA and perhaps its most dominant champion. Undefeated in 12 pro MMA fights, all of them finishes, Rousey’s combination of next-level grappling – she was a bronze medalist in judo at 2008 Beijing Olympics – and powerful striking had cut down every challenger set before her.
Her latest victim was set to be Holly Holm at UFC 193. Holm was herself undefeated and boasted championship level boxing and kickboxing pedigrees. But her first two UFC appearances had left much to be desired, as she won both by decision in less-than-exciting fights. Yet with a dearth of new contenders, Holm was the best option available.
Most observers expected Rousey to toss Holm on her head and submit her with her trademark armbar. As the fight began, it became clear this was her intention. But Holm, a Jackson-Winklejohn protegé, was prepared. As Rousey repeatedly tried to close the distance, she was met with a piston-like jab from the challenger, who did an excellent job moving laterally to not get cornered. When Rousey was able to get a hold of her foe, Holm was able to extricate herself and reset the fight at distance. As the first round came to a close, Rousey was tired, bloodied, and befuddled.
The champion failed to make the necessary adjustments between rounds, and it was more of the same in the second stanza. Eventually, Rousey was staggered by a punch and a push from the challenger. With her back to Holm, she returned to her feet and was met instantly with a head kick that landed flush. Rousey crashed to the mat, her utter domination of women’s bantamweight at a devastating end. Holm had been more than a 10-1 underdog.