Going into her fight against Holly Holm, Ronda Rousey was heavily favored to prevail. Some pegged Holm as a 20 to 1 underdog. Who could argue with this? After Ronda had been absolutely dominant in her UFC career, steamrolling through the competition in the same way that Mike Tyson did in the late 1980s. There was an aura of invincibility about Ronda and she seemed unbeatable……until Saturday night.
Simply put, Holm masterfully executed her game plan over the two rounds of that fight, maintaining her distance from Ronda’s aggressiveness and timing her kicks and punches to match Ronda’s bull rushes. She employed left punches, oblique kicks and great lateral movement to negate Ronda’s preferred strategy. Holm’s boxing experience served her well and set up the coup de grace in the 2nd round.
Ironically, Ronda had forecast this very scenario months ago, as shown in this video clip:
If you are not able to view this video, click here.
(For my deaf friends, this clip is unfortunately not close captioned. In summary, Ronda said that Holm was probably going to “keep far away from me and keep me frustrated to a point where I’ll make a mistake and she’ll try to kick me in the head – but it’s not going to go like that.”)
The fight went exactly like that.
This brings up the question: why did Ronda look so unprepared or not have an effective strategy to counter Holm’s probable strategy? Did she even have a plan? There are several answers that I can think of.
(1) Ronda started to believe her own hype. This is human nature. It has happened to many athletes and they paid for it. A good example is Mike Tyson prior to his fight with Buster Douglas in February of 1990.
(2) Ronda’s coach (Edmond Tarverdyan) prepared her poorly for the fight. This is only speculation and I’m only drawing on the outcome of the fight. Still, based on Ronda’s comments to Jimmy Fallon, they should have known the basic contours of a game plan against Holm.
(3) Several news reports indicate that Ronda’s personal life had become chaotic in the weeks leading up to this bout. If true, this could have disrupted her focus.
Whatever the reason, it was startling to see Ronda look like a rank amateur against Holm. She was content to bull rush and throw haymakers. This was eerily reminiscent of Mike Tyson in his career after the death of his trainer, Cus D’Amato. Holm was prepared for everything that Ronda threw at her.
Bottom line, Ronda was ill-prepared for the fight. I think that it is fair to say that Ronda should look in the mirror for answers.
On the other hand, Holm and her team came up with a great strategy and she executed it brilliantly. She was incredibly well prepared. As noted above, she maintained distance, thus largely neutralizing Ronda’s judo skills, used lateral movement and was highly effective with her striking. Long story short, she and her trainers had an effective game plan and she executed it very well.
This fight serves as a pretty good reminder of what it takes to succeed and a warning to those who become too full of themselves.
Generally, the way to succeed is pretty simple.
(2) Prepare; and
Do those three and you’ll have a good chance of succeeding. This is true regardless of whether this applies to martial arts, real life, your professional career.
On the flip side, if you don’t plan, prepare or practice, you are setting yourself up to fail. In those circumstances, there is no one to blame but yourself.
Bud Wilkinson, the legendary football coach at Oklahoma once said
“Everyone has the will to win, but do you have the will to prepare?”