In the minds of many, there were very few ways for UFC 193 to live up to the billing that the organization had promoted it with. While Melbourne’s Etihad Stadium is larger than Toronto’s Rogers Centre, and the event ended up drawing the biggest attendance in UFC history, there wasn’t the same type of energy as existed in Toronto for UFC 124, Rio de Janeiro for UFC 134, or Dublin for the organization’s recent forays there. Part of that had to do with a card that was seen to have little intrigue. The top two bouts were supposed to be squash matches for the UFC’s female champions to impress once again. That part didn’t go to plan, and it’s what will end up making UFC 193 memorable years from now. In the evening’s main event, challenger Holly Holm shocked the MMA world by toppling the only women’s bantamweight champion in a completely one-sided performance as a massive underdog. Holm’s dominance was reminiscent of current men’s bantamweight champion TJ Dillashaw when he captured the belt from Renan Barao. Holm was able to take Rousey almost completely out of her game, sting the champ with punches on nearly every attempted entry, and even nullifying Rousey in the clinch on a couple of occasions. As Rousey’s frustration grew visually, she began to get desperate with her attacks, leaving herself open to even cleaner and harder shots from Holm. In the second round, Holm landed a shot that staggered the champion, and in Rousey’s rush to regain her footing, she left herself open for a head kick that she never saw coming. It put her out, and one of the biggest upsets in UFC history was complete.
It will be interesting to see if the next women’s bantamweight title fight is a rematch of Rousey’s only career loss, or if she takes some time off and another challenger emerges. As much as the UFC likely wants Rousey back in there as soon as possible given the numbers she draws, this could be an opportunity to ignite some interest in the division beyond just her presence. The co-main event wasn’t nearly as shocking, but strawweight champion Joanna Jedrzejczyk wasn’t nearly as dominant as expected either. Valerie LeTourneau gave the champion her stiffest title defense, and was competitive throughout the five round bout that very few expected to go the distance. It was clear who had come out on top in the end, as Jedrzejczyk consistently landed the better shots and did so at a higher volume, but LeTourneau showed no fear of the champion.
It does seem clear what is next for Jedrzejczyk, and that’s a rematch with Claudia Gadelha. The two fought in Jedrzejczyk’s second UFC appearance, and went to a contentious split decision in which the Polish fighter got the nod. Their rematch will be the best female fight that the UFC has ever put on, from a talent perspective, and should be hotly anticipated. Beyond those two fights, the local flavor took over. New Zealand’s Mark Hunt made much shorter work of Antonio Silva than in their first meeting, putting the Brazilian down at 3:41 of the first round. Hunt spent much of the early portion of the round stalking Silva and looking to set up his strikes. Once he found the opening he was looking for, he delivered with his customary power, and this time around it was more than Silva could absorb. Hunt has been competitive with some of the best fighters in the world in his stunning late career resurgence and remains a fan favorite, but there isn’t much room for him to move in the division. Although they were culprits in one of the worst displays of cardio in UFC history, perhaps a rematch with Ben Rothwell would be worthwhile at this point given each man’s performances of late. Robert Whittaker continued to look strong at middleweight as he outpointed Uriah Hall en route to a unanimous decision. Whittaker was the busier and more effective fighter aside from some brief flashes from Hall. The TUF Smashes winner is now 3-0 at middleweight, and certainly a young fighter to keep an eye on in one of the UFC’s quickly aging divisions. Hall is the exact same fighter he’s always been: he shows incredible offense at times, and nothing at others, and if his big strikes don’t get the job done, he’s prone to losing a decision. Kicking off the main card (for some reason unbeknownst to all), Jared Rosholt did Jared Rosholt things and won a decision. Once he was able to navigate the reach of Stefan Struve, he was able to outwrestle the Dutch fighter with ease to take the first two rounds. Then he got tired in the third, as Rosholt is wont to do, and went into full-on survivor mode to get to the final bell and collect his scorecards from the judges. It will be the same recipe for every Jared Rosholt fight until he faces fighters in the top 10 who are more capable wrestlers and athletes.