Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) women's Bantamweight stars Ronda Rousey and Holly Holm TONIGHT (Nov. 14, 2015) at UFC 193 inside Etihad Stadium in Melbourne, Australia.
At this point, Rousey is merely cementing her legacy as one of the best ever. She's been largely untouchable inside the Octagon, destroying the majority of her opponents in the opening minute.
On the other hand, Holm has been less impressive in her UFC tenure, although she did tear through the regional scene. However, her past doesn't matter all that much once they're both inside the cage, as Holm does have the ideal style to dethrone Rousey.
Let's take a look at the keys to victory for both women:
Key Wins: Miesha Tate (UFC 168, Strikeforce: Tate vs Rousey), Sara McMann (UFC 170), Cat Zingano (UFC 184)
Key Losses: None
Keys to Victory: Just 12 fights into her professional career, Rousey has established herself as the most dominant fighter in the sport, male or female. While her competition level isn't the greatest, it's hard to deny that Rousey has been disposing of her challengers in style.
Of those 12 victories, only one of her opponents has managed to escape the first round.
In this bout, the most challenging aspect of facing Holm will be closing the distance. Holm is a very talented boxer with solid footwork who is quite motivated to avoid clinching with the champion, so Rousey will likely need to incorporate a bit more grace into her entry rather than the standard charge.
To do so, Rousey should do her best to prevent Holm from circling. While it's unlikely that Rousey will become a savvy ring cutter over night, she doesn't need the perfect takedown set up.
She just needs one opportunity to grab the clinch ... even an ugly one.
Once Rousey manages to get her hands on the boxing champion, it quickly becomes a fight we've all seen before. Her opponent will struggle, Rousey will hit a beautiful trip or throw, and suddenly an arm is being twisted in an unpleasant angle.
Key Wins: Raquel Pennington (UFC 184), Marion Reneau (UFC Fight Night 71)
Key Losses: None
Keys to Victory: Holm is one of the finest strikers in women's mixed martial arts (WMMA). Utilizing excellent movement and powerful kicks, Holm has finished six of her opponents via knockout.
In this bout, Holm's movement is key, as avoiding the clinch is absolutely imperative. Even one slip up could be the end, so Holm's footwork has to be on point.
In addition, Holm should be looking to deter Rousey's forward pressure. The most obvious way to do that is jab, but Holm has other options as well. For example, Holm is a student of Mike Winkeljohn, who's the head striking coach of Jackson's MMA. That team -- and it has showed up in Holm's game as well -- is known for their lengthy, momentum-halting kicks like the side and oblique kick.
Finally, if Holm does find herself in a bad position on the mat or in the clinch, staying tight is very important. Many women panic, for good reason, once Rousey grabs hold of them and give up easy takedowns or submissions. For Holm, stalling is the name of the game, as a referee stand up/separation or the round ending could easily save her.
Plus, Holm's style is better suited to fight in long bouts. She's a well-conditioned athlete used to fighting for a long period of time, whereas Rousey goes full speed from the get-go and attempts to destroy her opponent immediately.
Bottom Line: This is a definite style clash that will likely result in either a quick finish or dramatic upset. Either way, it should be entertaining.
Rousey is almost out of contenders that she hasn't already beaten at least once. If she dispatches Holm, there really aren't a ton of fights left for her. There's Amanda Nunes and a couple potential rematches, but Rousey would largely have cleared her division out.
Quite the accomplishment.
On the other hand, defeat would humanize Rousey. If other women in her division see Rousey fall, they'll realize where her weaknesses lie and attempt to take advantage as well. Then, those aforementioned rematches could become more interesting than another quick armbar.
Obviously, this is Holm's big opportunity. She's been competing for a long time, and it simply doesn't seem likely that she builds another long win streak to earn a second shot. Tonight's match is do-or-die for "The Preacher's Daughter."
If Holm wins, her place in history is sealed as the woman who dethroned Ronda Rousey. There will undoubtedly be a rematch, but Holm will have radically changed the world of MMA. On the other hand, a loss puts Holm in the same unpleasant position as each of Rousey's past challengers, as they struggle to find relevant fights and build up to a second chance.
At UFC 193, Ronda Rousey and Holly Holm will battle for the belt. Which athlete will have her hand raised when the dust settles?