If you haven’t heard already, Ronda “Rowdy” Rousey fights Holly “The Preacher’s Daughter” Holm on January 2, 2016. This is quite the surprise as everyone thought Miesha Tate would get her third crack at the title; including Miesha. Whatever reasons Dana White had for this match-up, one thing is for sure. This will be a much different fight than Ronda’s shellacking of Beth Correia and her two victories over Miesha. In fact, there will be no comparison.
While Miesha is an improved striker, her background is primarily wrestling and her strength is in her ground game. During their last match, Miesha held her ground better when they fought standing up, but whenever Miesha tried to wrestle with Ronda the tables turned, and quickly. Ronda turned the tables and took her down. To Miesha’s credit, she managed to escape the arm bar once and has lasted longer than anyone else, but the outcome was still the same.
Miesha fought well, but nobody beats Ronda on the mat.
Ronda’s Judo mastery is unmatched in the UFC, and grabbing her plays right into her hands. Though Miesha definitely improved her stand-up fighting(demonstrated by her devastating right to Jessica Eye in Chicago), Miesha has not shown herself to be a better striker than Ronda, and nobody in women’s MMA can defeat Ronda on the ground. Miesha had a better shot than most, but her chances of beating Ronda are still slim.
Bethe Correia provided Ronda with an opportunity to showcase her striking. Despite her bravado during their weigh-in, she was essentially Ronda’s punching bag for 34 seconds by standing in one place and engaging in a slug fest; one that the enraged Ronda was all too happy to win. Ronda showed that she doesn’t need Judo to defeat her opponents. She proved that she can punch too, and that she has knockout power. As a result, she reduced Bethe Correia to nothing more than a talkative sparring partner.
Holly Holm provides a different challenge from both Miesha and Bethe. As a former bantamweight boxing world champion with a record of 33-2-3, and 9 knockouts, Holly is unlikely to stand still and be anyone’s punching bag. She moves around the ring, holds a strong stance and anticipates strikes well. Ronda will not be able to punch in a straight line like she did against Bethe Correia; not if she doesn’t want to catch a counter punch to the jaw Holly is also effective at managing distance. She can use her kicks and jabs to keep her opponents at bay and she utilizes a lightning fast, well-timed left straight. Though she knows when to turn it up, she is not the stalking, bullying fighter that Ronda is. Holly is tactical, and while Ronda is compared to Mike Tyson, Holly’s style is more akin to a poor-man’s Muhammad Ali(down to the skipping around the ring in some matches).
Much like Ronda, Iron Mike always pressured his opponents for the quick win and with great results.
Like Holly, Ali didn’t rush his opponents. He outsmarted them and wore them down.
No, this is not a literal comparison of Holm with the greatest heavyweight of all time, but the stylistic similarity is there. Ali was mocked for running from his opponents at first, but he became a champion because he employed the same strategy that Holly does now; hitting your opponent while ensuring that you don’t get hit by capitalizing on angles and counter-punching. Holly doesn’t want to trade punches with her opponents, and she doesn’t want a wrestling match. She wants to feel them out, set them up, and pick them apart until they fall. If Ronda comes in swinging in a straight line like she did against Bethe Correia, Holly will become a champion too. That strategy is way too easy for an experienced boxer and kickboxer to figure out.
Perfect set up by distracting with the right and swinging in with the left.
Ronda is an improved striker, but she’s no championship boxer. If she expects to beat Holly, she must to take the fight to the ground where she is weakest. She must neutralize those jabs and kicks by closing the distance. For this fight, she must become the Arm-Collector again and employ her deadly arm bar. So far there is no evidence Holly can defeat Ronda at grappling. We have yet to see much of a ground game from Holly, but on the mat, Ronda reigns as Queen.
Holly Holm is still new to MMA and the UFC, but she is undefeated because she is the most adept striker in her division. If she expects to defeat Ronda and take her title, she must stay off the ground. Slipping and countering Ronda’s punches while using her kicks to maintain distance is the best way for Holly to defend herself. Frustrated fans might call it running, but standing still, brawling, and wrestling is not the only strategy to win a fight, and it is the least likely way to beat Ronda Rousey. If you disagree, re-watch Ronda’s butt-kicking of Bethe Correia and both of her victories against Miesha Tate. Tactical striking and maintaining pace is the way to go, even if it is easier said than done. They are Holly Holms’ strengths and her only shot at victory.
Skip to 1:35 for Holly Holm’s striking highlights.
This fight will be determined by style and pace. Whoever controls the pace and keeps it at her distance and style will win. If you’re Ronda Rousey, you want to close the gap, get the fight on the ground, and end it quickly. If you’re Holly Holm, you want to turn it into a marathon and wear down your opponent by capitalizing on her mistakes. Ronda is the favorite to win, and with good reason. She has dominated her division for her entire UFC career and shows no signs of slowing down. However, as Holly Holm has already said, everyone is beatable. We will see who wins this exciting fight on January 2nd.
Good confidence. Let’s see it in the octagon.
Who do you have winning this fight? Feel to free comment!
Fight well, my friends.
Update: The fight has been moved up to November 14, 2015 and moved to Melbourne, Australia.