Holm shocked the world early Sunday morning, knocking out Rousey with a skull-rattling head kick in the second round to take her Women’s Bantamweight title, in what is arguably the greatest upset in UFC history. Rousey (12-1) had run through every opponent she faced in her career and built an aura that was compared by UFC President Dana White to Mike Tyson in his prime. Holm (10-0), a 16-1 betting underdog, was touted as Rousey’s greatest challenge to date. And she lived up to that billing, as she picked her opponent apart before finishing the fight in the second.
“Getting in here I just had so much love and support,” Holm told UFC commentator Joe Rogan in her post-fight interview. “I just felt like, ‘How could I not do this with all that love?’ I had so much.”
From the opening moments of their main event, it was clear Holm was a threat unlike any Rousey had seen. She landed clean counterstrikes on her overly aggressive opponent and inflicted noticeable bruising on Rousey’s face.
Known for her fast-paced fighting style, Rousey continued to press forward and exchange on her feet. At one point, “Rowdy” attempted to use her Olympic-level judo background to take the fight to the ground, but Holm thwarted the attempt and responded with a surprising takedown of her own.
By the time the first five-round minute round expired, Rousey had absorbed more significant strikes than in her past three UFC fights combined. But Holm wasn’t done yet. Although she’s known for her boxing and punching ability, it was a high kick that did the most damage, catching a retreating Rousey on the neck and immediately dropping her the canvas.
Holm followed the knockdown with two unnecessary hammerfists to the jaw to end the fight at 0:59 of Round 2. Rousey struggled to find her wits for several minutes after being put out cold and a UFC record 56,214 fans in attendance at Melbourne’s Etihad Stadium were left in utter disbelief.
“Everything we worked on happened tonight,” Holm said. “Something we worked on was trying to get the angle of the clinch. I didn’t want to kick her in the body ’cause we didn’t want her to grab onto [my leg], so we were going high and it just was there.”
Rousey’s nearly three-year title reign came to an end, and she was transported to a nearby hospital following the knockout as a precautionary measure. She provided no post-fight comment following the first loss of her career.
UFC officials said a rematch between Holm and Rousey is the likely next fight – so much for that disappearance – and the new champion agreed that’s a fitting decision.
“I think a rematch makes sense for sure,” Holm said. “I’ve been on the losing side of a fight [in boxing], and I wanted a rematch. I wanted to avenge my loss. With a champion like Ronda, who’s gone out of her way and gone above and beyond to do great things, absolutely, she deserves a rematch.”