Even Superman had his kryptonite.
In a bug-meet-windshield moment few saw coming, Holly Holm knocked out Ronda Rousey with a searing head kick and follow-up punches to capture the Ultimate Fighting Championship women’s bantamweight title in the UFC 193 main event on Saturday at Etihad Stadium in Melbourne, Australia. Holm finished it 59 seconds into round two, with Rousey lying motionless on the canvas.
This was no Hail Mary knockout. Holm dominated the match from start to finish, as she ripped into the heavily favored champion with surgical punches from the outside. Her lateral movement and deft footwork forced Rousey to give chase and left her vulnerable to counters. Holm bloodied her with several left crosses and even survived a pair of ground exchanges, one of which she initiated with a surprising takedown.
Rousey did not alter her approach in the second round, as her reign atop the division began to unravel. Holm connected with a straight left inside the first minute that appeared to daze the judoka. Rousey turned her back briefly and let her guard down before being met with a brutal high kick to the neck that sent her crashing to the floor in a semi-conscious and defenseless state. Holm gave her no time to recover, a final volley of punches and hammerfists prompting referee Herb Dean to act.
In wake of UFC 193 “Rousey vs. Holm,” here are five matches that ought to be considered:
Related » UFC 193 By the Numbers
Holly Holm vs. Ronda Rousey: Some may object to the idea of an immediate rematch, but this is the only fight to make in the aftermath of such a monumental upset. Rousey had been a picture of utter dominance and had finished all 12 of her previous opponents, 11 of them in the first round. She was indestructible, if there was such a thing in MMA. Holm used Rousey’s seemingly pathological aggression against her, as she lured the pursuing judoka into clean, accurate punches. According to preliminary FightMetric data, Holm connected on 38 of her 53 strikes (71 percent), all of them deemed significant. How Rousey responds to her first brush with adversity will define her legacy.
Joanna Jedrzejczyk vs. Claudia Gadelha: It was not the flawless performance for which many had hoped, but Jedrzejczyk retained her strawweight championship with a unanimous decision over American Top Team’s Valerie Letourneau in the co-main event. The charismatic Polish striker impressed with rapid-fire punching combinations, damaging leg kicks and a handful of front kicks to the body and face. Letourneau never yielded but lacked the wherewithal to deal with the considerable weapons being brought against her. Jedrzejczyk landed a staggering 220 significant strikes across the 25-minute bout. Nova Uniao’s Gadelha rebounded from her split decision loss to Jedrzejczyk in December with a unanimous verdict over former World Series of Fighting champion Jessica Aguilar on Aug. 1.
Mark Hunt vs. Josh Barnett: Hunt made certain there was far less drama this time around. The 2001 K-1 World Grand Prix winner took care of Antonio Silva with a glancing right hand behind the ear and follow-up punches in their long-awaited rematch, disposing of “Bigfoot” 3:41 into round one to snap a two-fight losing streak. The two heavyweights had fought to a majority draw in a “Fight of the Year” contender in December 2013. Barnett -- who submitted Hunt under the Pride Fighting Championships banner nine years ago -- last appeared at a UFC Fight Night event on Sept. 26, when he took a unanimous verdict from Roy Nelson in Japan.
Robert Whittaker vs. Derek Brunson: Whittaker thrived under difficult circumstances, as he pocketed a unanimous decision against former Ring of Combat champion Uriah Hall. “The Ultimate Fighter: The Smashes” winner paired leg kicks with stinging punching combinations and also did damage in the clinch, where he utilized short punches, foot stomps and knees to the legs. Hall was a fill-in for the injured Michael Bisping and entered the cage on the strength of his spectacular stoppage on onetime Strikeforce titleholder Gegard Mousasi in September. Brunson has rattled off three straight wins, including back-to-back first-round finishes against Ed Herman and Sam Alvey.
Jared Rosholt vs. Ruslan Magomedov: It was not pleasing to the eye, but Rosholt got the job done yet again. The three-time NCAA All-American wrestler pushed his UFC record to 6-1 with a unanimous decision over Stefan Struve on the main card. Rosholt, 29, stifled the Dutchman with takedowns and an oppressive top game, battling through fatigue late in the fight. The Team Takedown representative may have already reached his ceiling in MMA, but his presence in a thin and aging division cannot be ignored. Magomedov finds himself on a nine-fight winning streak following his unanimous decision victory over Shawn Jordan at UFC 192 on Oct. 3.