First things first. I’m a boxing writer, and while I admire MMA I don’t know nearly enough about it to write with any authority, at least not usually. But in this instance, I think there’s room for a boxing writer to offer input. I’m talking, of course, about Ronda Rousey’s crushing defeat at the hands and feet of former boxer Holy Holm. Some time has passed since that stunning upset, so now I’d like to offer what we might call an outsider’s perspective.
Knowing full well that I’m not expertly aware of what generally happens inside the octagon, the Rousey vs Holm fight looked to me like a case of an MMA star trying to punch a boxer’s lights out. That proved to be an exceedingly poor idea, especially since the boxer in question was also an MMA fighter of note. More on that later. Right now, let’s focus on Rousey.
Truth be told, the woman has benefitted from fantastic hype. That doesn’t mean she’s a hype job, it simply means the hype surrounding her has been insane for close to a full year. And indeed, there’s been a lot to be impressed with about Ronda Rousey. She’s relentless, brutal and efficient. It’s not hyperbole to be blown away by such fighting attributes.
Let’s face it, Rousey didn’t grace the cover of Ring magazine by accident. Boxing, particularly Golden Boy Promotions, wanted in on the Rousey action. Rousey, in turn, seemed flattered by all the attention, and appeared to be giving serious consideration to the idea of changing her focus to boxing.
And why wouldn’t she? Fact is, popular boxers make a whole lot more cash than popular MMA stars do. Compare Rousey’s paychecks to Floyd Mayweather’s and you might be stunned. Indeed, the guy may have made several hundred times more than the millions Rousey earned over the past year. That’s saying something, and it clearly wasn’t lost on the UFC star.
Plus, people should keep in mind the fact that Rousey sincerely loves boxing. Boxing fans may bash her, but – as Steve Kim rightly pointed out – Rousey had been nothing but publicly supportive of our sport in the extreme. Name one other top athlete who isn’t a boxer who has proven to be the fan of “The Sweet Science” that Rousey is. The fact that you’re now taking a moment to come up with a name says it all.
So yeah, it makes sense that Rousey would become seriously interested in boxing. There was just one problem: she wasn’t a boxer. She was a talented mixed martial artist with an extensive background in judo. Indeed, those of us boxing analysts who watched footage of Rousey sparring with the likes of Vic Darchinyan saw serious flaws in her game. Not that it was a big deal, mind you. No one would ever fault Andre Ward for not being effectively able to ground and pound, after all.
Things became a problem for Rousey, however, when she was convinced by the media, boxing powerhouses, and herself that she could beat a boxer at his or her own game. Look, I have no idea whether or not Rousey could have, or might still in the future, beat Holm. What I do know is that Rousey has proven woefully incapable of trading punches with her. And yeah, people like De La Hoya – whom I’ve spoken with, like, and admire – might bare some of the guilt for making this woman believe she could do something she obviously couldn’t. Fighting is a dangerous business, and Rousey shouldn’t have been allowed to think that she could be something that she wasn’t.
That being said, some attention has to be paid to Holm in all this. Some on the boxing side of things have taken her amazing win as proof that boxing is superior to mixed martial arts. This, of course, is ridiculous. As I’ve said in the face of equally obnoxious MMA fanboy rhetoric, these are two distinctly different sports, one being no greater than the other.
What makes Holm unique is that she effectively took elements of boxing technique and converted them into a winning formula for MMA. Unlike many boxers who make the switch to the octagon, she didn’t try to beat her MMA foes at their own game. Rather she effectively employed the boxer’s mindset of hitting and not getting hit. And in that regard, the woman may well be a game changer.
But I’ll let an actual MMA writer weigh in on that one. Sometimes, after all, you just have to stick with what you’re good at. That’s a lesson Ms. Rousey has learned the hard way. — Sean Crose