Ronda Rousey will defend her Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) women's Bantamweight belt against Holly Holm this Saturday night (Nov. 14, 2015) at Etihad Stadium in Melbourne, Australia.
The undefeated champion (12-0) is a whopping -2000 favorite over Holm heading into the UFC 193 main event, as she seeks her seventh straight title defense. Meanwhile, Holm -- who is currently the No. 7-ranked contender -- is also undefeated (9-0). She was once a top boxer, having won various titles in three different weight classes over the course of an 11-year span, posting an impressive record (33-2-3) in the process.
Holm's resume and credentials are certainly admirable, but she is stepping in the Octagon against Rousey, who has been far too much for anyone of her opponents to handle. In fact, "Rowdy's" last three opponents were all dispatched in a total of one minute and four seconds ... combined. If you throw in the two opponents who proceeded that trio who were mowed down in record fashion, the time total is three minutes and eight seconds.
Rousey, 28, has gone past the first round only once -- Miesha Tate at UFC 168 -- where she landed her patented armbar submission in the third round. So does Holm stand an actual chance this weekend? Former UFC title contender -- and current ESPN MMA analyst and host of the "You're Welcome" podcast -- Chael Sonnen, sheds some light on the pivotal match up.
"There is just so many different ways to look at this," said Sonnen, who is now the color commentator for World Series of Fighting (WSOF). "On one hand, Holly is a better competitor than the last few girls Ronda has fought. As far as skills-wise for MMA, I think she is very limited. It is important to remember -- even though she has only won two UFC fights -- she is undefeated. Even though she has only had nine MMA fights, she did win them all. She does have an ability to know a set date, a set of circumstances, an agreed upon weight class, show up, do her part and get her hand raised. There are not that many women who do. The sport is so new and what Ronda had that was so unique was a competitive background, not actual technique. That gets lost on people. The sport of judo has had a miserable and minuscule run of success in UFC. In the history of UFC, judo has not fared very well. There is only one exception. And it's not because [Ronda] is so good at judo or knows some kind of skills that others don't know, the thing that sets Ronda apart is that she has competed so much.
"Until you've walked into that environment and deal with those stresses of competing in a one-on-one situation with another person and going through that over and over again, the anxieties and stresses that these ladies feel overwhelms them and seldomly does it come down to technique vs technique. So I think in that regard, the fact that Holly has competed many times before is going to help her. And I also think you can get lost in Ronda's success. There was a lot of happenstance that just kept happening in some of her last fights. She ends up in a tussle with Cat Zingano and comes out with an armbar. She ends up clinched up with Sara McMann and throws one knee and happens to land on Sara's liver that ends up paralyzing her for a couple of seconds."
Holm, 34, didn't look quite as good as advertised in her first two UFC bouts, both decision victories over Raquel Pennington and Marion Renau, respectively. Despite her obvious boxing titles and undefeated record, there are few onlookers who are giving her even a puncher's chance on Saturday night in Melbourne. Indeed, most think Rousey will be able to close the distance, throw Holm to the canvas and take care of business on the ground.
"That is how I see it. too," said Sonnen. "I think there is a big stretch here. I think the one thing Holly has is she is durable and she can compete. As far as her skills, if you want to question them I think someone is well within their rights to question them, but, being durable and being able to compete will take you a long, long way in this sport. I equally disagree with a 'puncher's chance.' I don't think she has a puncher's chance. I think she is going to have to lean on something else. Her punching -- which is supposed to be her strong suit -- has been average at absolute best. Her first UFC fight was 90 percent stand up. I couldn't even tell you who her opponent was, but it was absolute tit-for-tat in the punching and kicking department, which is what she is supposed to be great at. I don't know about this 'puncher's chance' business, but I think there is something to be said for her durability and her experience in competing. You can't replace the experience in competing, not for what you learn in the physical aspects, but for what you learn from the locker room to the locker room. I think that Holly is going to have some advantages over Ronda's previous opponents, but it's just still a gap that is too big."
Rousey has won via submission nine times in her career, which is what has truly defined her place in the sport, separating her from her peers But, she has won three of her last four fights via (technical) knockout. In fact, her most recent win over Bethe Correia ended the Brazilian's night with, essentially, just one big one punch.
Does Sonnen see a case where Rousey could try to beat Holm at her own game and remain standing?
"I don't think so, but to your point, that happens all the time, doesn't it?" he said. "We see it in this sport. Golfers do it all the time where they fall in love with one shot and it always comes back to bite them in their ass. I don't think so. I think she is looking for her grappling first and foremost. Even the times when she is throwing punches, I think she is just waiting for that girl to react and then she is going to come at her knees or come inside and get back to what she does well. I think she is a smart enough athlete to do that. I'd imagine she will probably look for an armbar. I think that is probably what she will look for is to get her down."
Holm may not have gone the distance in her first two fights, while Rousey is dismantling her foes at a record pace, but Sonnen said winning -- however the method -- is what is most important. And there is something to be said for Holm getting her hand raised nine straight times in MMA competition.
"I think that Holly has some real advantages in that she has gone out there and found a way to win," he said. "Whether it's been impressive or not, she has found a way to win. This whole 'finish fights' routine, this is a brand new phenomenon. This didn't exist when I was growing up. This came around 2005-2006. Floyd Mayweather -- by those standards -- would never have been world champion. So, the bottom line is you go out and you get your hand raised. And Holly has done that. Whether she has stopped people or not, she has done that. She is durable and she uses the the scoring system and the clock to her strategy, but so have a lot of the other greats. You make a choice in fighting, if you go for the finish you are not going to win the decision, and if you try to win a decision you are most likely not likely to get a finish. I don't know if I would fault her for that."
At the end of the day, though, the retired UFC Middleweight and Light Heavyweight veteran says it will be the champion who gets her hand raised once again, but Holm will take it past the first round and join Tate as the only other fighter to do so.
"If I had to go one way or the other, I think it gets past the first. I think Ronda Rousey, end of the second round TKO."