Ronda Rousey was the UFC’s unequivocal, shining star in the mainstream sports world, and as long as that star beamed, the interest in MMA was universal. But through a ripple in the cosmos, “The Preacher’s Daughter” Holly Holm stepped in and extinguished the star that had burned so bright for the UFC over the last three years.
Acting as if Holm being crowned the new women’s bantamweight champion spells certain doom for women’s MMA would be irrational and melodramatic. The show will go on with or without Rousey leading the way like it did when Georges St-Pierre unofficially retired or when Anderson Silva was defeated by Chris Weidman.
It doesn’t make the transition any easier for the UFC, as Rousey was the biggest draw in the promotion’s history.
Holm would be the obvious candidate to take up the mantle. The former world boxing champion is likeable, a fantastic role model and more than ready to deal with life in the spotlight. Her standup-heavy offense can also be pretty exciting depending on the opponent.
If not Holm, the UFC could drop down a couple divisions and take a look at its strawweight champion, Joanna Jedrzejczyk.
The undefeated Polish fighter is coming off a unanimous decision win over Valerie Letourneau in the co-main event of UFC 193.
It’s unfair to ask any fighter to step in and fill the void left by Rousey, but if there is one woman on the UFC roster with the right stuff, it would have to be Joanna “Champion.” Like Holm, Jedrzejczyk has stood strong in the spotlight as a likeable role mode with an aesthetically pleasing fighting style. Perhaps the only difference is Jedrzejczyk’s outwardly beaming personality.
She doesn’t mind opening up to the world and giving strangers an opportunity to see her inner-workings. So many times fighters replace their true selves with caricatures of their ideal selves the moment a camera light turns on.
Rousey’s popularity was partially based off her performances inside of the octagon, but much of it had to do with the way she carried herself on the outside. She was real and brutally honest when necessary. In a way, it felt like each of us knew her personally. She was a cultural phenomenon, who was rarely mum or reserved on any topic.
Jedrzejczyk boasts that same kind of brash confidence that lured people to stand behind Rousey. Holm does as well inwardly, as she obviously isn’t the kind of fighter who wears her emotions on her sleeve.
Emotions are relatable to every human being on the planet because they represent a real feeling. Jedrzejczyk is marketable in nearly every way that Rousey was marketable, if the UFC decides to go in that direction.
It only makes sense that more spotlight will shine in Jedrzejczyk’s direction following Rousey’s recent tumble down the mountaintop, at least until Rousey returns and faces Holm in a rematch.
From strictly a business perspective, there is no doubt UFC President Dana White is secretly crossing his fingers that Rousey takes back the title from Holm, which would setup an inevitable rubber match. But given Holm’s dominance on Saturday, it would take a Herculean effort and a dramatically improved Rousey to even come close to pulling off a win.
By this time next year, Jedrzejczyk should be rolling off the twisted tongues of every MMA fan.