A new future awaits Ronda Rousey after loss

MELBOURNE, Australia

Unless you were the lucky bloke whose $20K bet on Holly Holm to win turned into $240K of genius, you likely never envisioned Ronda Rousey succumbing to the striking and Leg Kick That Shocked The World.

In Melbourne, Australia, before a record crowd of 56,214 that commanded a record gate of AUD $9.53 million, the general reaction to Holm’s second-round knockout leg kick was pure astonishment.

Did that really just happen?

As if the head kick -- coming off a hail of combination punches, jabs and abdominal kicks -- wasn’t devastating enough, the force of it knocked Rousey’s head straight to the canvas, where she landed on her cheek with a sickening thud.

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“She was transported (to the hospital) because she got knocked out, No. 1,” UFC President Dana White said of Rousey, who surrendered her UFC Women’s Bantamweight Championship to Holm at 59 seconds of the second round. “And her (upper) lip was split in half, and they had to sew her lip.”

Rousey’s seventh title defense was her worst nightmare, a brawl against an experienced professional boxer-turned-MMA star that forced the heretofore undefeated legend into an exhausting, frustrating battle of standup exchanges and unrequited, unsatisfying pursuit.

Holm’s exquisite conditioning and her fearless determination to keep Rousey from applying any of her signature submission moves turned this a shockingly one-sided affair. Rousey, left with a bloody mouth after the stunning first round went to Holm on all three judges’ cards, had lost the first-ever round of her professional MMA career.

Staggered by the beating she sustained, Rousey must now reassess what’s next. And so must the UFC. The most electrifying star in the UFC has been a superb champion, representing the sport and empowering women worldwide. She’s a crossover star of epic proportions.

Rousey spoke this week of weathering a constant storm, a nonstop force precipitated by all the women challenging her throne.

Without question, this loss has left her crushed.

“Obviously, she was completely bummed out and depressed,” White said of Rousey, whom he visited before she was transported to a local hospital.

For fans of the division, Holm’s impressive victory ushers in a new era of matchups, as well as the obvious rematch. With UFC 200 set for July 9 in Las Vegas at the city’s sparkling new arena, Rousey’s crack at revenge would seem perfectly timed for this date.

White wouldn’t speculate specifically, but he conceded Holm-Rousey 2 is inevitable.

“Obviously we don’t make fights the night of the fight, but the rematch makes a lot of sense,” he said. “The rematch is what people want to see.

“I mean, it changes a lot of things. The (Cris) Cyborg fight, some other stuff we were working on … “

But don’t think for a second that Holm’s magnificent victory left anyone in Melbourne disappointed. On the contrary.

“Tonight was one of those moments. These are the moments in fighting that make it so crazy and so fun,” White said. “Tonight was one of those moments. (UFC announcer Joe) Rogan was downstairs saying this is by far the biggest upset in UFC history, you know? At the end of the day, I made this fight. I said that this was a good fight.

“Holly was the right fight.  Ronda had never faced anybody who uses the range and distance that she does. This woman has four times more fights than Ronda does. She’s been a world champion. This was the right fight.”

Rousey’s remarkable reign is over. Now, perhaps it’s time to slow down a bit. The #RouseyRevolution hasn’t stopped. It has simply turned the page to a new, very fascinating chapter.

Nancy Gay is the Editor-in-Chief of Follow her on Twitter at @NancyGay

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