Monday, 16 November 2015

TV Review: UFC 193 Rousey vs Holm

It’s time to take a trip to the land down under as we take a look back at the events of UFC 193, shown live in the early hours of this past Sunday morning on BT Sport here in Britain.

The action began with the big boys of the heavyweight division as Stefan Struve faced Jared Rosholt.

This fight may not have been to the liking of many Australians but it proved to be a very interesting battle. It began with a lengthy feeling out period in which Rosholt tested the waters with some nice leg kicks, but when he took the big Dutchman down it signalled the start of the American’s period of dominance, a period that lasted until the end of the second round. It may not have looked pretty or spectacular but it was effective as Rosholt controlled the action.

Struve’s best work came in the final round, but the only problem was that he needed to go all out for victory, which was something he didn’t do. He scored with some nice blows and took the fight to the ground as Rosholt slowed down, but it wasn’t really enough to put the American in any sort of trouble.

So with the fight going the distance the judges were called into action as Rosholt took the unanimous decision.

Middleweight action followed as Uriah Hall went up against Robert Whittaker.

Now this was a lot better. Whittaker gave us a statement of intent early on when a big right hand rocked Hall, and from there this fight turned into a nice little back and forth encounter.

The transplanted Kiwi did a great job of controlling the action. His striking looked excellent throughout and gave Hall no end of trouble, and his ground work wasn’t far behind in that aspect, especially towards the end of the first round when he took his man’s back.

Hall had his moments, but the fact was that he always looked a few steps behind his opponent, and like other fighters before him his best moments came in the final round when he responded to another Whittaker onslaught. But as the old saying goes it was too little too late by then.

So with another fight going the distance it went down to the judges again as Whittaker took the unanimous decision.

It was back up to heavyweight for the next fight as Mark Hunt took on Bigfoot Silva.

As with the previous heavyweight fight these two began with a lengthy feeling out process, with Hunt testing the waters a little with a couple of stinging kicks, one to the legs, and the second to the body.

But just when it looked as if the action was going to carry forward into the second round Hunt connected with a combination that rocked the big Brazilian. A few seconds later another big right sent Silva crumbling to the canvas, and after Hunt followed him down for a spot of ground and pound the referee stepped in to give Hunt the TKO win.

The co-main event saw Valerie Letourneau challenge Joanna Jedrzejczyk for the Women’s Strawweight title.

I really enjoyed this one. Apart from a brief trip to the ground in the first these two gave us five rounds of great striking with, as the old saying goes, both women leaving it all in the Octagon.

Jedrzejczyk’s performance was brilliant throughout. The front kick that caught Letourneau flush in the face in the first round was a thing of beauty, and the way she targeted her opponent’s lead leg throughout the fight was spot on. The highly visible damage she sustained screamed out ice bag long before the fight came to an end.

Letourneau looked okay, and she managed to get off some good shots of her own, but the only problem was that the champion was getting off more, and with her right eye swelling and her left leg looking a complete mess it was more than obvious who was going to win this one.

So it came as no surprise to anyone with the gift of sight when the judges gave Jedrzejczyk the unanimous decision.

The main event saw Holly Holm challenging Ronda Rousey for the Women’s Bantamweight title.

If this fight showed anything is that the UFC’s poster girl is human after all, because for nearly six minutes Holm made her look positively ordinary as she put on the perfect striking display.

It was like watching a master at work as Holm took the champion apart with her superior striking. Rousey just didn’t have any answers to Holm’s questions, and to make matters worse the challenger put the exclamation mark on the proceedings when she scored with the takedown, and even though Rousey went for an armbar at one point it was obvious who won the round.

Rousey looked shattered when the round came to an end, but what I found most surprising was when he corner men greeted her by saying “Beautiful! Just beautiful!” It made me wonder just what fight they’d been watching.

It was more of the same when the second round began. Holm was using Rousey for target practice by this time, and when a left kick to the head dropped the champion like a sack of spuds it was all over bar the shouting. A brief moment of ground and pound followed until the referee stepped in to give Holm the knockout win.

In conclusion – I have to admit that I considered skipping this show, mainly because my ongoing health problems have meant that I haven’t been able to devote as much time as I usually do due to the mountain of DVD reviews I’ve got backed up.

However, when I awoke on Sunday morning to the news of one of the biggest upsets in UFC history I just knew that I had to give this a look-see, and I’m more than glad that I did.

Quality-wise the main show varied. Rosholt and Struve didn’t exactly set the world on fire with their opener, but as the show progressed the fights got better and better, and on any other day the Women’s Strawweight title fight would have been a great main event, and probably my fight of the night.

But then Holly Holm had to come along and spoil the party as it were by taking down one of the most dominant champions in UFC history. The fountain of knowledge that is Joe Rogan compared her victory over Ronda Rousey as being an upset on the level of Matt Serra’s defeat of Georges St-Pierre a few years back, but I’d also throw in Chris Weidman’s win over Anderson Silva as well.

But then again, given Holm’s performance and pedigree as a striker can it really be considered an upset? Or did she just expose the holes in Rousey’s game like nobody else had? Either way, it was a tremendous win, which is why it gets my fight of the night no-prize.

So with all of that out of the way there’s just one more thing left to do, and that’s to give UFC 193 the big thumbs up.