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By Zach Arnold | November 14, 2015
Ronda Rousey’s many admirers think she is as sexy as Maria Sharapova, but it was supposed to be Holly Holm’s role to play Maria Sharapova to Ronda’s Serena Williams in the cage. Ronda was the 20-to-1 favorite who was going to vanquish the pro-boxing convert to MMA and head onto a giant fight against Cris Cyborg.
Everything changed in Melbourne. Not only did Holly Holm knock out Ronda Rousey, she put her into an ambulance ride to a hospital.
The Buster Douglas comparisons immediately started flying. Quite appropriate, given ESPN’s airing of the Chasing Tyson documentary reviewing the 90s with Tyson/Douglas at the Tokyo Dome and Evander Holyfield watching his then-golden ticket fight with Tyson blow up in smoke. We know how the story played out, including cameos from Riddick Bowe & Michael Moorer.
The Chasing Tyson formula is now UFC’s best case scenario. A scenario where Rousey somehow rebounds, Holm fights the likes of Cris Cyborg, Miesha Tate, and Julianna Pena. For a true hardcore fight fan, these are wonderful scenarios. For the casual fight fan who loved or hated Ronda Rousey only and the media who helped build Rousey up to Rock-level icon status, they are now left with a feeling similar to when Mike Tyson went to jail in Indianapolis.
“[Everything] is on pause,” the venerable Charley Steiner lamented at the time.
That sound you're hearing is the mainstream leaping off the Ronda Rousey bandwagon. It was quite a run though guys!
— Jonathan Snowden (@JESnowden) November 15, 2015
The events that transpired before the fight in Melbourne had an eerie tone to what distracted Tyson before his Tokyo Dome fight. Ronda didn’t have rape allegations hanging over her head, but she was hearing and feeling the pressure from critics over what she wrote in her book about physically hitting a man. Was it domestic violence or not?
“Legally, you could almost consider it kidnapping” was the way it was paraphrased in her defense.
There was the Travis Browne “I’m her boyfriend” situation and Ronda hanging up on the conference call. There was Ronda’s mother chewing into trainer Edmond Tarverdyan as a bum, only for Bloody Elbow to extensive report on his major financial woes in bankruptcy court.
The usual questions as to whether or not Ronda would soon retire permanently and head to Hollywood. Would she fight at UFC 200? How long of a layoff would she take? Would she eventually fight Cris Cyborg? There was no peace heading into the Melbourne fight.
Styles make fights and Ronda Rousey faced the worst possible fighter in Holly Holm. A professional boxer with great discipline and foot work. She got crushed.
Suddenly, Ronda’s cheerleaders in the media turned hard on her. ESPN, which sent respected reporter Ramona Shelburne to Australia to cover the fight, found themselves covering Ronda’s demise wall-to-wall while Fox Sports 1 stuck with the Utah/Arizona college football game. Gracious in victory, Holly Holm delivered a fantastic interview with Ms. Shelburne that made you feel really, really good for her. Only a day before the fight, Rousey was trashing Holm the way Donald Trump has been attacking Ben Carson’s character:
Fake ass cheap shotting fake respect fake humility bitch – "preacher's daughter" my ass – I see… https://t.co/5jWOT4K5od
— Ronda Rousey (@RondaRousey) November 14, 2015
A depressed Dana White on ESPN didn’t give a full-throated “yay!” to Holly Holm’s title win. For a man who drew over 56,000 fans to a largely silent Etihad Stadium, he struggled to muster a smile. He acted like his dog died. But women’s MMA sure didn’t.
In an irony of all ironies, Gilbert Melendez and Chael Sonnen dished out the best advice to both UFC & Ronda Rousey on how to move forward. Jonathan Coachman asked whether or not Ronda had the ability to be humble and contrite. Sonnen warned Ronda not to send a public relations flunky on social media to use a fake excuse and that she should admit that she lost to a better fighter in Holly Holm.
Two individuals whom, according to UFC & USADA’s new policy, can no longer associate with fighters due to prohibited association were doing the best job out of anyone in putting a positive foot forward on the events that transpired in Melbourne.