Freelance: Holly Holm Over Ronda Rousey and the Top 10 Upsets in Zuffa, LLC History
For all of the numbers that get thrown around in the world of sports, sometimes it can be easy as a bettor to forge to expect the unexpected. The consequences of doing this when betting on MMA can definitely hurt your wallet just like it did when Holly “The Preacher’s Daughter” Holm end the 12-0 run of UFC women’s bantamweight (135-pound) champion, a winning streak that spanned her entire professional MMA career.
Why Rousey vs. Holm Tops This List
If you ask the MMA community to list off their top ten upsets in either UFC history or the overall history of the sport, you’ll get different answers. UFC 193’s main event is on those lists but does not top them as far as the betting odds are concerned.
However, the result of this fight, as had Rousey herself, transcended the sport and put both in the mainstream consciousness in a way that hadn’t been seen even after the combat leader signed their television deal with Fox Sports in 2011 thanks to Rousey’s appearances on talk shows, in films, and elsewhere.
For all that has been said about Rousey over the years, what ultimately caused her downfall was the very confidence (that some might perceive as over-confidence that made her famous around the globe in the first place. While Holm was keeping quiet in the background, letting her performances do the talking, Rousey went from doing the same to feeling like she had to prove herself as a striker, getting away from her judo base after having a string of knockout/TKO wins go on her record.
Meanwhile, Holm was both a kickboxer and, predominantly, a boxer. According to BoxRec.com, as a pugilist, Holm would win titles for: the International Boxing Association (IBA,) World Boxing Association (WBA,) the International Female Boxer’s Association (IFBA,) the Women’s IBA, the World Boxing Council (WBC,) and the World Boxing Federation (WBF.)
As is known, the southpaw product of Albuquerque, New Mexico had 16 total championship defenses across three different weight classes (super lightweight, welterweight, and super welterweight) and built up a 33-2-3 record with nine victories coming by way of knockout.
How do you think the two matched up on the feet?
The UFC 193 Closing Odds: PerBestFightOdds.com, Holm closed as the +450 underdog compared to the -1,650 Californian.
Breaking Down the Fight
Holm’s camp had taken notice of Rousey’s clinch-judo throw-armbar approach to MMA and successfully evaded the champion every time she tried to do the same against her. The UFC-partnered FightMetric, LLC shows that over the course of two partial rounds, Rousey was decimated.
Holm went 1 for 1 in offensive takedowns and also had a 100 percent success rate in takedown defense. She connected with 38 of 53 overall strikes, all of which were considered significant (fight-changing) blows to produce a success rate of 71 percent before scoring the single knock-down via head kick that created a photo seen around the world. Rousey landed 21 of 69 shots overall (around 30 percent) and 17 of 65 in significant strikes (just 26 percent.)
She said ahead of winning the UFC belt, “Nobody is impossible to beat, and I don’t care who you are,” she said. “I’m not just talking about Ronda Rousey. I’m talking about anybody. There are huge upsets in sports across the board and have been from the beginning of time. There are always huge upsets, and let’s be honest: That’s why people watch sports. It’s why sports are interesting. If you always know what’s going to happen, you wouldn’t watch. But that’s why we watch sports, because we never really know the end result.”
The now-former champion’s above point still holds true and the evidence of this can be seen below in a collection of bouts under the banner of the UFC’s original parent company, Zuffa LLC. This list includes fights from the UFC, and the now-defunct Pride FC and Strikeforce promotions respectively.
Note: Despite the numbers, this opinion-based list is based on the shock value of the upsets and not necessarily the difference in odds between fights alone.
10. Practically Any Fight from UFC Fight Night 61
Reported just about eight months before UFC 193, some bettors took a calculated approach to this particular fight card. There were multiple upsets on the February 22, 2015-Bigfoot vs. Mir that not even leading sportsbook Bovada saw coming. Underdogs paid out at 10-1. Bettors only had to put down between $1 and $5 to walk away happy campers. ESPN reported the day after the event that betting just $4 on each underdog resulted in a payout of $85,000 to one individual.
Bovada’s manager Kevin Bradley said at the time, “We had at least a dozen of these bets that paid out $10,000 or more…We take in so much more money on the NFL or the NBA that when you have these types of parlay winners, it's hard to hurt [our business]… What happened with UFC is just so rare. We're not getting this money back from the people that won," he continued.
"The type of bettor that wins these bets throws a small amount of money on all the favorites or all the underdogs to try to get rich. Well, I guess it worked.”
9. “The Prodigy” B.J. Penn Falls to Frankie “The Answer” Edgar in Sad Trilogy
Before these two would do battle multiple times and things would just get more and more depressing as it became obvious that Penn should enter retirement, the new UFC Hall of Fame member appeared to be in near-top form as he put together an impressive 5-1 record between mid-2007 and December of 2009, only losing to one of the greatest ever in Georges “Rush” St-Pierre.
Prior to that defeat he had finished Sean “The Muscle Shark” Sherk by TKO at UFC 84 and Joe “Daddy” Stevenson and Jens “Little Evil” Pulver with back-to-back rear-naked choke submissions at UFC 80 and The Ultimate Fighter 5 finale respectively. He would go on to put away Kenny “KenFlo” Florian in the same way at UFC 101 and score a TKO victory over renowned wild-man Diego “The Nightmare” Sanchez, forcing a fifth-round doctor stoppage in the main event of UFC 107 just before meeting Edgar.
The UFC 112 Closing Odds: Both of those last bout mentioned were for Penn’s UFC lightweight (155-pound) gold and when he initially won the championship, he became just the second man in both UFC history to win titles in two separate weight divisions. So, it came as no surprise that the legend was the heavy -1,100 favorite per Bookmaker against the +725 underdog in Edgar.
UFC 118: The 50-45 decision that was in the challenger’s favor after the first bout was viewed as controversial enough to warrant a rematch at UFC 118, a rematch that would end with the same score. Penn would fight through December of 2012 before first entering retirement.
The TUF 19 Finale Closing Odds: What was the fight that brought him back to the octagon? A third (unnecessary) go-round with the New Jersey native in early July of 2014 as the headliner of the TUF 19 finale. MMAOddsBreaker’s closing odds then were favoring Edgar (-370) with Penn the obvious underdog at +330.
This fight is a big deal because Edgar truly got the better of his opponent like he did in their second bout, but not only did he no longer have a 1-1 split on his record, but he topped the Hawaiian icon by third-round TKO to send him into retirement for a second time.
This proves that his third UFC stint that began in January of this year with a TKO loss to Yair “El Pantera” Rodriguez just 24 seconds into Round 2 is entirely absurd. However, what happened at UFC 112 started it all.
8. GSP vs. Matt “The Terror” Serra
For the second time, Canada’s greatest MMA fighter is mentioned on this list. This contest was truly one that shocked the MMA world given the polar opposite career paths that each man was on at the time. St-Pierre had just begun his second reign as UFC welterweight (170-pound) champion after avenging his only loss at the time against Matt Hughes by head kick and strikes. He’d won six straight fights including the Hughes rematch.
THE UFC 69 Closing Odds: Meanwhile, Serra had just come off of doing the fourth season of TUF known as The Comeback, meant for fighters who hadn’t had the best of luck inside the octagon to that point. The New Yorker was a mixed 5-3 in the UFC just before beating GSP for the belt (9-4 in MMA overall) so it wasn’t exactly a shocker when the closing odds from Bookmaker had the champion at minus -1000 and Serra at +700.
The challenger won his lone UFC strap by strikes in just 3:25 against one of the greatest in the sport but would fall to the Canadian again (by TKO due to knees to the body) at UFC 83. Serra would retire just three fights later with an overall record of 11-7 after competing professionally for around 11 years.
7. Rameau Sokoudjou vs. Antonio Rogerio Nogeuira
Despite the fact that his brother Antonio Rodrigo won a UFC title, for both of the Nogeuira brothers, their best days were inarguably during their Pride FC days. Just ahead of Pride 33: The Second Coming, Rogerio was nearly flawless at 9-1 and had recently put on a Fight of the Year opposite his Brazilian countryman in Mauricio “Shogun” Rua.
The Pride FC 33 Closing Odds: Sokoudjou was 2-1 and had just come off of the loss (by KO against Glover Teixeira) after scoring one of his victories by a narrow split decision, and so was the +1,350 underdog against the -2,300 favorite in “Little Nog” per Bookmaker. He upset the then 12-2 veteran by KO in just 23 seconds.
6. Gabriel Gonzaga vs. Mirko Cro Cop
The UFC 70 Closing Odds: Fox Sports considers this a “battle of the head kicks” that Cro Cop (-500) was supposed to take easily. Gonzaga. The former Pride FC tournament champion was finished with that very move by the (+400, per Tapology.com) in just under five minutes.
A possible lesson? Not to rely too much on one weapon (some would argue in similar way to Rousey.) The fight is also notable as it’s one of the biggest highlights of Gonzaga’s career after a mediocre run in the UFC and his retirement in 2016 while his opponent has since go on to win a tournament title for Japan’s Rizin Fighting Federation, largely considered the child of Pride FC/DREAM.
5. Bobby Lashley vs. Chad Griggs
Lashley is the Anti-Brock Lesnar. While most MMA fans despise Lesnar for getting a title shot against Randy Couture (more on him later) with a record of 2-1 prior to winning the UFC heavyweight (265-pound) championship, Lashley has earned much respect for working his way up the ranks in MMA while simultaneously continuing on as a professional wrestler.
The Strikeforce- Houston Closing Odds: The Colorado native legitimately wrestled in the U.S. Army and has an NAIA championship-winning background. He was already famous from his time as a WWE superstar, so by comparison, virtually no one had him pegged to lose to (or knew of) Strikeforce’s Chad Griggs. Griggs (the +700 underdog per Bookmaker) pummeled Lashley (the -1,200 favorite) until he won by doctor stoppage TKO after Lashley’s cardio failed him.
The victory would be one of Griggs’ final three before being finished twice in the UFC prior to his release and retirement from MMA. He now works as a full-time firefighter.
This fight is also important because Lashley has since improved to 15-2 overall and has since signed with the world’s second most popular promotion in Bellator MMA where he is a perfect 5-0 and could be approaching his first major heavyweight title shot.
4. TJ Dillashaw vs. Renan Barao I
“Killashaw” was a respectable 4-0 with three finishes when he entered the UFC, but that was on the regional level. After surviving six weeks in the TUF house, he came up just short against John “The Magician” Dodson in the TUF 17 finale by unanimous decision, the UFC debut for both men.
The Importance: On the other side of the coin, Brazil’s Renan Barao was reigning supreme as the UFC bantamweight (135-pound) champion, having not been defeated since the age of 18 as reported by Fury’s Fight Picks, and having earned 32-1 (with one no contest after he suffered an illegal soccer kick and could not continue to fight) record before the two met.
The UFC 173 Closing Odds: This earned Barao the prestige of not just a title, but being the heavy favorite (-1,250 per Bookmaker) against the +765 challenger. Dillashaw then led the striking as well as the fight entirely, having the champion out on his feet a number of times before ending his night with a head kick and ground n’ pound.
3. Chuck Liddell vs. Keith Jardine
Chuck “The Iceman” Liddell was a name that UFC fans and those new to MMA associated most with the sport prior to the debuts of Jon “Bones” Jones, Rousey, or the “Notorious” Conor McGregor. Jardine was just supposed to be a tune-up fight for bigger things down the line, something to get him back on his feet after dropping the UFC light heavyweight (205-pound) championship to Pride vet Quinton “Rampage” Jackson.
The UFC 76 Closing Odds: Jardine was a formidable adversary for the former champion, but he had a couple some losses and a draw on his record and had just been stopped by Houston Alexander thanks to a combination of trading leather and knee strikes. When the lines closed, Jardine was a + 245 underdog against the -450 Liddell according to BestFightOdds.com.
Although the call may have been by split decision compared to a decisive finish, no one expected the two bouts with Jackson and (even more so) Jardine to be what would set than favorite son of San Luis Obispo, California on the path to retirement.
Liddell would pick up one win in his next four bouts after Jardine, a decision win over Wanderlei Silva before falling in three straight contests and stepping away from competition in 2010, seeing the UFC just slightly past the historic UFC 100 pay-per-view.
2. Randy Couture vs. Tim Silvia
The UFC 68 Closing Odds: Couture over Silva gave hope to men with “Dad-bods” everywhere. At 43, the near-Olympic level wrestler out-struck his over six-and-a-half-foot tall opponent after just losing to the abovementioned Liddell by KO so he was expected to be the underdog and was at +205 to Sylvia’s -235 per BloodyElbow.com.
So what’s so special about this fight that it ranked at #2 on this list? Couture wasn’t just the underdog in this bout, he was the ultimate underdog as (thanks to his age) he proves the entire point of this list itself: Never count any fighter out of a fight completely.
The fight was for Sylvia’s UFC heavyweight championship as well, so the victory made Couture not just one of (now three) men in UFC history to win belts in two different weight classes, but the oldest in UFC history to do so period.
1. Royce Gracie Wins the UFC 1 Tournament
Did anyone not see this coming? The UFC itself, now the premier combat sports organization on the planet originated off the very idea of upsets. This win is mostly now based off of the fact that in 1993, the majority of the world (particularly American crowds) had not yet been exposed to Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, it hadn’t been figured out, much like Rousey during her streak.
Still, the idea behind the UFC in the first place was specifically to showcase their family’s fighting style in as close to a real-world altercation as possible against other forms of combat (because you never know ahead of time what style an opponent knows in a street fight.) Those behind putting on the first UFC event weren’t sure until they saw how successful the event was that there would even be a UFC 2, so the Gracies had one shot to show the world how smaller opponents could topple Goliaths simply by using leverage.
It worked, fans were awe-struck, and the Ultimate Fighting Championship was born.
*Made from source material from Fury’s Fight Picks, Fox Sports, and other outlets
What This Means for YOU
There just so happens to be a possible upset on the horizon, albeit outside of the UFC.
Current Destiny of Heros Odds (5/24): ONE Championship’s Istela Nunes De Souza is the +275 underdog (per FightOdds.io) heading into her strawweight (115-pound) title shot against Angela “Unstoppable” Lee. The champion has remained true to her nickname to this point at 7-0 with one KO/TKO but five submissions (with three bouts ending in Round 1) for a total career fight time of just under an hour and the challenger is close behind at 5-0 (1 No Contest) with two KO/TKOs and a career time of just over 45 minutes.
Oh, the thing is that Lee is just 20 years of age. However, where there is youth, there is often inexperience (for both women.) Nunes De Souza sees the same weaknesses in Lee’s game as Holm did in Rousey’s—preferring the ground against striking. Lee even fell into the same trap as Rousey in feeling pressure to prove herself on the feet.
In that sense, doing that like Rousey is the definition of insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results. There’s a saying in the betting world: Never bet more than you are prepared to lose. Although, there is another that applies in this weekend’s situation as well: Those who don’t learn from history are doomed to repeat it.
The lesson is this for fighters: No one will believe a person can accomplish greatness until they simply do it. However, the lesson for bettors is what it has always been: Don’t get comfortable.
The night’s not over until the final horn sounds because anything can happen on any given night in this crazy world of sports.