From Post to Post: Fresh Air for a Stale Division

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With arguably the biggest upset in all of MMA, in which Holly Holm defeated Ronda Rousey in a one sided affair, it seems that the women’s bantamweight division has seemingly risen from the dead. Before UFC 193, the talks were always about who would be next in line for Ronda and who could be the one to even give her a fight. As her dominance continued, journalists and analysts just said how long they thought Rousey’s opponent would last. With the huge upset, there is now a whole new life in the 135lb division — interesting match ups, new contenders, and a plethora of stylistic differences make this division seem completely brand new. We here at MMASucka are here to discuss the future of this division and what exactly it means for Holly Holm to be the new women to beat.

Kyle Salas: Well guys, she did it. Holly Holm shut out Ronda Rousey in last night’s main event and seemingly made this division seem way more open and actually competitive. I never had a doubt that Holly was the one to do it, but now that it’s all said and done I actually want to break down this division. It used to always be who was next to either feed Ronda or who could they market to sell out another crowd. With this new champion in Holm other match ups actually have an influence on the division. It seems like now is the right time to start making match ups for this division as soon as possible to set up another contender, in case a Holm vs. Rousey rematch isn’t immediate. Zingano and Tate are at the top of my list for a shot next, but either way, it’s wide open.

Nick Baldwin: It’s usually good for a division when a dominant champion is dethroned because it opens up the division and brand new matchups can be setup. If Rousey won on Saturday, who would challenge for the belt next? There are of course a few options, including rematches but more likely fighters that wouldn’t be ready, and that isn’t quite a conversation I would’ve enjoyed having. We’re better off with this upset because now we can discuss how Holm being the champ affects the UFC positively and negatively.

As a business, this probably isn’t good for the promotion. She was featured on the global cover of EA Sports UFC 2 (which was unveiled last week) for a reason; she was the UFC’s biggest star. People either loved her or hated her as champion, but that didn’t matter — she still drove attention like nuts. She broke the UFC’s attendance record on Saturday, she headlined the pay-per-view that currently has the most buys this year… the list of her accomplishments go on and on. Looking at the short term side of things, Rousey losing is great. She could gain more fans because she will likely return more humble, plus the rematch (using the word the because it will happen at one point or another) between the two elite fighters could possibly break records — even more records than what Rousey and Holm have already broken. That’ll be all great for the UFC until Holm beats her again — and I believe Holm has her number, it was definitely not a fluke by any means — because Rousey losing twice would be devastating. It would be difficult for her to rebound from the losses, keep her fans, remain confident and her championship spirit. Therefore, short term, this is great for the UFC. But long term, probably not.

As far as the division goes, this is fantastic news for other women’s bantamweights. Fighters like Zingano, Tate, Kaufman — all fighters that have lost to Rousey — will be able to get back into title contention quite easily. You have to remember that Rousey beats anyone and everyone with poor takedown-defense. So for that reason, this change in champion probably doesn’t affect up-and-comers like Amanda Nunes and Julianna Pena, but at least they don’t have to be worried about being taken down in 15 seconds and soon after that submitted. As Kyle mentioned above, matchups involving top contenders actually matter, now. Other than Rousey, the only other two fighters that have lost to Holm in the UFC are Raquel Pennington and Marion Reneau, who are both far from the top of the division. Essentially, every fighter, veteran or up-and-comer, can start fresh. They can completely restart their run for the women’s bantamweight championship, now held by Holly Holm — not Ronda Rousey.

Jeremy Brand: With Rousey losing her belt to Holm it definitely put the 135-pound division in a state that it hasn’t been in quite some time. Many will say that there are a number of new contenders now, however I disagree a little bit. Yes there are women to vie for the title, but none of them will be able to take it from the current champ. The only person with a legitimate chance, very slim I might add, is the woman who Holm took the belt from and the one who is still (unfortunately) the face of the division — Ronda Rousey.

If MMA math worked, one might say that Raquel Pennington would have the best shot at Holm because she fought the champ to a split decision. This is not the case. If you watched either of Holm’s first two Octagon appearances, she used them as primers for her crack at Rousey. I would bet money that if she were to have stepped inside the cage against someone else before getting that crack at the belt, it would have been a pitter patter fight, much like her Pennington and Marion Reneau outings.

Holm holds something in this division that could be very tough to deal with — whether it’s her fantastic world class boxing, or her takedown defense or her footwork, she is going to make it very hard for any 135-pound woman to beat her.

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I am a 20 year old college student with a passion for MMA media and write for MMASucka. You can follow me on Twitter at @AwildKyle, it's always nice to meet new MMA enthusiasts.

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