It’s the holiday season, and with the new year quickly approaching, Combat Press is taking a look back at the best of MMA in 2015. Throughout the remainder of the year, Combat Press will announce its award winners in multiple categories, covering everything from the action in the cage to the biggest stories surrounding the sport.
It was the kick heard — or more accurately, seen — around the world.
Almost no one gave Holly Holm a chance when she faced Ronda Rousey for the UFC women’s bantamweight title at UFC 193 in November. Why would they? Rousey was undefeated and deemed unbeatable after winning her previous three fights in a combined 64 seconds. Holm was at one point a 10-to-1 underdog who looked very tentative and unsure in her first two UFC fights.
But a funny thing happened in the Octagon in Australia.
In a bit of genius coaching, Holm’s coaches, Greg Jackson and Mike Winkeljohn, admitted they kept certain things under wraps during Holm’s first two UFC fights, which may be why she seemed tentative. But Holm completely unleashed her arsenal against Rousey, and it worked to perfection. Holm used her elite boxing and kickboxing to out-land Rousey 38-17 in total strikes and even landed a takedown, which many thought was impossible given Rousey’s Olympic-level experience in judo.
At the end of the first round, Rousey was clearly dazed and taken by surprise, despite what her coach thought. In the second round, the proverbial David slayed Goliath. A devastating left head kick from Holm sent Rousey crashing to the mat, and a couple of follow-up hammer strikes led to the fight being waved off. Holm was now the UFC women’s bantamweight champion.
Holm has enjoyed a tidal wave of attention and adulation since winning the belt, including a victory parade in her hometown of Albuquerque, N.M. A rematch with Rousey is a lock in 2016, likely at UFC 200 in July. Holm is on record saying she hopes to fight before then, but it looks like the UFC is going to keep Holm under lock and key until Rousey is healthy enough to fight again, which might take a while. After all, Rousey admitted she still can’t eat an apple after the damage she suffered in her loss to Holm.
So, can lighting strike twice when Holm and Rousey square off again? We’ll have to wait a little while to find out. For now, there’s no question that Holm’s amazing upset of Rousey qualifies as the Combat Press selection for 2015’s “Knockout of the Year.”
Other finalists: Conor McGregor vs. Jose Aldo (UFC 194), Hisaki Kato vs. Joe Schilling (Bellator 139)
Make sure you check out the rest of the Combat Press 2015 MMA Award winners.