Overnight sensation. Failure. Got what was deserved. Too much talking. Arrogant. Disrespectful of their opponent. Cocky. Put back in their place.
If you were to ask 10 different people of varying age groups who these statements are about, you're liable to get 10 different answers. Modern sports history is littered with champions who some felt got what was coming to them. Or, champions who did too much talking – arrogant.
For those who were alive during his prime, Muhammad Ali (Cassius Clay prior) was a brash Black man when America was in the middle of a civil rights movement. It didn't sit well with many in white America.
But he backed up his braggadocio in the ring, becoming the heavyweight champion of the world. Although he would eventually lose, Ali made you pay attention to the sport of boxing. In both victory and defeat, he made people talk.
It was unprecedented.
Merriam-Webster defines unprecedented as “not done or experienced before”.
If there was a word to describe UFC 193, it would be unprecedented. According to Yahoo! Sports:
- Over one-million pay-per-view sold (currently top 3 in UFC history)
- 56,214 in attendance at Melbourne's Etihad Stadium (UFC record)
- Gate record of $6.8 million ($9.5 million Australian - 4th in UFC history)
- 6,000-plus establishments purchasing the PPV (topping the 2010 Lesnar-Velasquez fight)
- Conversation on twitter topped out at 29k per minute with over 85 million impressions
Those numbers show the power of the Rousey name.
Why? Because the headliner of UFC 193 was Ronda Rousey and people paid to see a fight between two women in the same way they paid to see Floyd Mayweather, Muhammad Ali and Mike Tyson fight.
Holly Holm’s stunning knockout of the seemingly invincible Ronda Rousey brought her instant social media fame. Her Instagram post after the fight garnered over 113,000 likes – an increase of over 11,000% from her other photos in early 2015.
Rousey may have been the headliner walking into the fight, but Holm stole the show.
Don't Be A DNB
If you know anything about Ronda Rousey, you've surely heard of the term DNB. “DNB” (Do Nothing Bitch) was Rousey's way of combating the body image criticism she has faced in her career. Too masculine, some said. Not feminine enough, said others.
As the most feared female fighter in history, she was not one to be trifled with. Rather than letting the fools win, Don't Be A DNB became part of her identity – even selling shirts to raise funds for charity.
Up until November 14, 2015 in Melbourne, Rouse was definitely not a DNB.
Then came Holly Holm.
We all waited and expected Holm to fall prey to the great Rousey arm-bar. All of her previous opponents did, and in record time. Rousey's vicious dominance brought many new fans to the sport. NFL, college football, NBA and MLB players would tweet during a Rousey fight.
How long is this fight gonna last? I've got a movie to watch – hurry up Ronda.
It became a running joke to newer fans of the sport. But, it drew people in. They wanted to see how quickly this one would end.
On Saturday night the dreaded arm-bar came...and went. Holly Holm refused to crumble as previous Rousey opponents did. Not only did Holm not crumble, she attacked intelligently and stood her ground against one of the greatest champions in MMA history.
Ronda Rousey could do nothing about it.
“Obviously, I thought Ronda would have more answers,” said UFC President Dana White after the fight. The answers never came. At least, not the typical Rousey-type of answers we've grown accustomed to. Newer fans were stunned. Some lrongtime fans were not.
Reactions turned into celebrations for many with long ties to the sport. They rejoiced in Rousey's humiliation. All of the bravado and arrogance they saw in Rousey was gone as she lay on that mat in Etihad Stadium.
In combat sports, when you choose to embrace the role of the villain be prepared for the victory celebration when you fall— Dr. Johnny Benjamin (@DrJCBenjamin) November 18, 2015
When the champ is down, they get kicked and everyone has an opinion. Everyone from Donald Trump to Lady Gaga to Ohio State's Cardale Jones shared their thoughts. Former undefeated ladies boxing champ Laila Ali did not mince words in her assessment of Rousey saying, “In order to be the best in the world, you definitely don’t ever get beat up like that in your prime. Period.”
Safe to say Laila Ali never faced a competitor of Holm's skill. But, that's a story for another day.
But, the fact that current and former athletes as well as celebrities were tweeting about this fight on Saturday and into this week illustrates how far women's MMA has come. It also drew comparisons to Serena Williams’ surprising end to her Grand Slam run.
Williams faced an upset of what some called monumental proportions when she lost to Italy's Roberta Vinci in the U.S. Open semi-final in September. Williams was two matches shy of a calendar year Grand Slam, something the sport of tennis had not seen since Steffi Graf did it in 1988.
For those paying attention, some of the same criticisms directed at Williams in September were similar to ones we heard and read about Rousey after last Saturday's loss.
Arrogant. Disrespectful. Classless. Got what she deserved.
Different sports. Different athletes. Champions, competitors, driven. How they go about their business rubs some people the wrong way. They are not afraid to destroy society's idea of what a champion female athlete should be.
Why should they? They do what they have to do to accomplish their goals. Not yours.
Call her too “Hollywood” if you want. Say she cares more about what happens outside the octagon instead of inside. Get angry at her cockiness. None of that matters when a sport is trying to grow, does it?
The marketing of Rousey through interviews, appearances on popular shows and yes, even film roles, helped bring women's MMA into the mainstream.
Because Ronda Rousey is a mainstream celebrity and Holly Holm, until Saturday, was essentially just "the opponent." https://t.co/2rYHmeUZyI— Jonathan Snowden (@JESnowden) November 17, 2015
The UFC knew it could capitalize on her brashness and bravado. Boxing has long been filled with that type of a fighter. They stir a reaction in people – the very core of human emotions, the battle between love and hate. Rousey embraced both.
When people are given a platform, they either inspire greatness in others or they chase them away. Rousey inspired girls, women to give the sport a try. Her competitors were inspired to work harder to get better. The results of which we documented recently in “The Empowering Force of Women's MMA”.
Now that Rousey has been dethroned, what now? Where does the UFC go from here?
Holly Holm will have something to say about that. She was the underdog heading into UFC 193. People root for underdogs. Now, she is the humble champion. A champion that the rest of the Bantamweight Division will be after. Names like Miesha Tate and Julianna Peña. Cat Zingano and Sarah Kaufman.
It remains to be seen if the UFC will give them their shot at the new champ first or if a juicy rematch with Rousey will be in the works. Holm may not reach the marketing level of Rousey but she will command attention because of that humility. And, of course, those skills. Those wicked, wicked skills.
Holm did something no one else could do. She not only beat, but dominated and controlled the fight against the seemingly invincible Ronda Rousey, making it the biggest fight women's MMA has ever seen.
Media outlets were talking, tweeting and writing about it like never before. Interest in women's MMA, a sport still in its infancy, is at its highest right now because of Holm's upset victory. Women's MMA has room to grow.
“I see videos of little girls who are 8 years old who are hitting pads better than I could ever hit pads,” former UFC, now Invicta fighter, Angela “Overkill” Hill, told us. “These little 12 year-olds hitting flying arm bars on boys and grappling. Hopefully when they reach the age where they're competing, I'll be retired.”
UFC Bantamweight fighter, Marion Reneau agrees, telling us “We are taking part in something that is bigger than what we may think it is.”
The foundation is there. Those eight to twelve-year-old girls are the future of women's MMA.
Until then, the sport's immediate future no longer rests in just one woman's hands.