Monday November 23, 2015— UFC 193 produced what some would say is the greatest upset in MMA history with Holly Holm defeating Ronda Rousey via vicious head kick in the second round.
Since then there has been a lot of debate and questions abound. One of the biggest debates is did Ronda pave the way for WMMA? In a word NO. The names that come to mind are Gina Carano, Cristiane “Cyborg” Justino, Shannon Knapp, and Julie Kedzie.
I know many will disagree with the Cyborg reference but she cut her teeth early and has continued to be dominant to date. Carano was the first true “face” of WMMA back before it hit the true mainstream. Shannon Knapp took the big step that most thought would fail in 2012 by founding Invicta Fighting Championship that features an all women roster which is thriving. Julie Kedzie has done it all from in the cage, commentating, and now match making for Invicta FC.
Holly Holm the new UFC Bantamweight champion has a real connection with a couple of the trailblazers before her. What’s that you ask? Holm, Kedzie and Carano all trained under the tutelage of Greg Jackson at Jackson’s-Winklejohn’s MMA in Albuquerque, New Mexico. It’s safe to say that I should have added Greg Jackson as a person to pave the way for WMMA.
The biggest question asked by the masses is who is next for Holly Holm? UFC President Dana White has said that Rousey will get an immediate rematch but having a six month medical suspension puts the UFC in a unique place. Do you wait for Rousey’s medical clearance and keep your newly crowned champion on the shelf for that long? I don’t think so, the UFC Bantamweight division is loaded with talent and presents different styles for Holm.
Miesha Tate who seems to be deemed the “gatekeeper” of the division. Although promised the next shot at Rousey before the UFC went with Holm instead. Tate has reeled off three straight wins but has that earned her a shot? Cat Zingano is another interesting option with her only defeat being at the hands of Rousey. Maybe you go a little further back in the division and give a young budding star like Julianna Pena shot. Regardless of the who I think Holm makes one defense before Rousey is medically cleared.
Ronda Rousey has definitely transitioned WMMA into the mainstream over the past three years. The way in which she went through the division was unheard of and spectacular. At UFC 193 she was defeated soundly. Many have questioned whether she will come back or not. The answer is simple, Rousey is a true champion and will be back with a chip on her shoulder.
Look for the UFC Bantamweight division to be full of fireworks in 2016.
By: Dustin Hill
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