It was the kick heard ’round the world.
Most observers did not give Holly Holm much of a chance in her quest to dethrone Ronda Rousey for the Ultimate Fighting Championship women’s bantamweight title at UFC 193 on Saturday at Etihad Stadium in Melbourne, Australia. Some even wondered whether she belonged in the same cage.
The sportsbooks varied wildly. Odds started at -2000, +1000 and then settled closer, with the favorite Rousey ranging from -716 on Sportsbet to -1650 on BetDSI and the underdog Holm from +450 on SB Global to +700 on BetDSI. By comparison, Georges St. Pierre-Matt Serra hovered around -1050, +750 at UFC 69.
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Despite the astronomical odds, “The Preacher’s Daughter” silenced her doubters in the main event, as she sprang the shocking upset and knocked out Rousey with a head kick and follow-up punches 59 seconds into the second round. Holm was on her game throughout the fight, as she landed brutal straight lefts, connected with a devastating standing elbow and even executed a surprising takedown. Her surgical striking, nimble footwork and lateral movement took Rousey out of her comfort zone. The flustered judoka desperately tried and failed to close the distance, moving forward with wild hooks that Holm easily evaded and countered. Odds for a potential rematch are already out, and, as many could have predicted, they are much closer, with Rousey around -160 and Holm around +140.
There were two other upsets on the main card, neither of which approached the magnitude of Holm-Rousey.
Uriah Hall was a -165 favorite against Robert Whittaker (+140), according to BetDSI. He landed some diverse strikes in the back-and-forth battle, but Whittaker played the game a little better and walked away with a unanimous decision. Scores were 30-27, 30-27 and 29-28, all in Whittaker’s favor. Meanwhile, three-time NCAA All-American Jared Rosholt (+150) defeated Stefan Struve (-200) despite being at a significant height and reach disadvantage. Rosholt used his wrestling and heavy top control to neutralize the Blackzilians-trained Dutchman, as he earned matching 29-28 scores from all three judges.
The UFC 193 prelims featured three fighters who bucked the odds.
Holm’s Jackson-Wink MMA teammate, Kyle Noke (+210), made quick work of Peter Sobotta at 170 pounds, as he put an end to his seven-fight winning streak with a crushing body kick and follow-up punches 2:01 into the first round. Noke pocketed a $50,000 “Performance of the Night” bonus for his efforts.
Meanwhile, Alliance MMA’s Danny Martinez (+105) took a unanimous verdict from Richie Vaculik (-125) with an aggressive game plan. “The Gremlin” mixed together wild winging punches, takedowns and persistent top control, earning 30-27 nods across the board for his first UFC victory.
Finally, four-time Olympian Daniel Kelly (+225) defeated American Top Team middleweight Steve Montgomery (-270). Kelly put together a strong first round but seemed to run out of gas in the second. The Australian judoka executed multiple takedowns and tried several submissions in the third round to seal the deal. All three judges scored it 29-28 for Kelly.