There is a much different feel than initially perceived for UFC women’s bantamweight champion Ronda Rousey’s showdown with former boxing world champion Holly Holm.
Despite the massive scale of the UFC 193 backdrop at Etihad Stadium in Melbourne, the long-awaited championship fight between Rousey and Holm feels a bit underappreciated. The UFC went the extra mile in media tours and putting together one of the most ambitious promotional videos in the company’s history.
But on the eve of perhaps the biggest fight in women’s bantamweight history, the buzz surrounding Holm, like every other Rousey opponent not named Miesha Tate, has been lacking.
An obvious reason for this has been Rousey’s continued dominance. She has inherited the same aura of invincibility commonly associated with many of MMA’s all-time greats. Georges St-Pierre, Anderson Silva, Fedor Emelianenko, B.J. Penn — casual fans viewed each of these legends as invincible before they were proven mortal.
Few can envision Rousey ever being defeated, and the majority of those who can aren’t convinced the preacher’s daughter from Albuquerque is the one to do it.
However, there is no such thing as a perfect fighter. Every fighter has a loose thread somewhere, capable of being pulled by the right opponent. Whether Holm is the one to unravel MMA’s pound-for-pound queen is a question we’ll all know the answer to by the end of Saturday night.
Holm has never faced a grappler as dominant as Rousey, but likewise, Rousey has never faced anyone near Holm’s level on the feet. Both fighters burned with a look of determination as they had to be physically separated when teasing fans with one final staredown at the weigh-ins before the championship fight on Saturday.
“I’m here, and that’s right, I am here to shock the world. But I know I have my hands full with Ronda. I have all the respect for her in the world. She’s done a hard job here, she’s ran through everybody. But I’m a different fighter,” Holm said at the weigh-ins.
So long for all of the friendly buildup.
Rousey didn’t appear particularly thrilled about Holm getting in her face. When speaking with UFC commentator Joe Rogan, she vowed to make Holm pay on fight night:
“I just wanted to get in her face and show her that I was there for a reason. She’s the one that put the fist on my face, I didn’t touch her. She’s the one that touched me, and I told her that fake, sweet act — I see right through it, I really do. It was all fake. All that respect, all that everything, all that you being sweet — I see it right now that it’s fake, and you’re going to get it on Sunday.”
In the co-main attraction, UFC women’s strawweight champion Joanna Jedrzejczyk is slated to defend her title against Canadian contender Valerie Letourneau. While Rousey typically leans on submissions and Judo to woman-handle opponents, Jedrzejczyk seems to prefer the messier route — punches, kicks, knees and elbows.
The undefeated polish champion is one of the most intense fighters — male or female — in all of MMA. Just ask Jessica Penne, Jedrzejczyk’s last opponent.
Letourneau is a skilled fighter that has flown under the radar for this event, but there is no question that she has her work cut out for her if she hopes to dethrone Jedrzejczyk.
The full results from Friday’s weigh-in are listed below:
Main card (Pay-Per-View at 10 p.m. ET)
Ronda Rousey (134) vs. Holly Holm (134)
Joanna Jedrzejczyk (114) vs. Valerie Letourneau (115)
Mark Hunt (265) vs. Antonio Silva (263)
Uriah Hall (185) vs. Robert Whittaker (185)
Stefan Struve (239) vs. Jared Rosholt (265)
Preliminary Card (FOX Sports 1 at 8 p.m. ET)
Jake Matthews (155) vs. Akbarh Arreola (155)
Kyle Noke (169) vs. Peter Sobotta (169)
Anthony Perosh (205) vs. Gian Villante (205)
Richie Vaculik (125) vs. Danny Martinez (125)
Undercard (UFC Fight Pass at 6 p.m. ET)
Dan Kelly (185) vs. Steve Montgomery (185)
Richard Walsh (170) vs. Steve Kennedy (169)
James Moontasri (170) vs. Anton Zafir (170)
Ben Nguyen (126) vs. Ryan Benoit (125)