When UFC 193, which would mark the organization’s eighth trip to Australia, was first announced, the country’s legions of fight fans expected to see a welterweight title fight between Robbie Lawler and Carlos Condit. When injuries nixed those plans, however, they ended up with a very different, and ultimately very historic card.
The evening’s headlining honors were given to UFC women’s bantamweight champion Ronda Rousey and undefeated challenger, Holly Holm. The co-main event spot, meanwhile, was held by UFC strawweight champion Joanna Jedrzejczyk and challenger Valerie Letourneau, making this the first UFC card ever headlined by a pair of women’s title fights. This, however, is not why the card will be remembered.
In the end, it would mark the fall of an MMA icon.
Elsewhere on the card, we were treated to action in six of the UFC’s male divisions, featuring legends, prospects, and journeymen alike. And when all was said and done, the card delivered as a good one. Packed to the edges with stoppages, wars and of course, upsets, it’s one we won’t be forgetting any time soon.
Here’s a recap of the action for those who missed it.
The Main Card:
Rousey Goes Down
In advance of her main event clash with Ronda Rousey, Holly Holm was pushed as the sort of decorated striker that might give the champion problems. And after the pair’s unexpected weigh-in scuffle, hopes that Holm might be the woman to finally give Rousey a good fight ballooned even further. Even still, however, the odds identified the champ as an almost unbeatable favorite.
Sometimes, the odds lie.
From the opening bell, Rousey seemed to have difficulty with her challenger’s striking. The champ was consistently beat to the punch, and the elbow, and eventually, the kick. Yes, in the end, the kick proved to be Rousey’s bane.
In the bout’s second round, Holm uncorked a missile of a kick that sent her bewildered foe tumbling to the floor. A few follow-up punches later, and Rousey was out cold. Holm had won the title, and scored one of the biggest upsets in UFC history in the process.
With the win, Holm moves to a perfect 10-0, and more notably, has dumped the fight game on its head. And while her first challenge will almost certainly be a Rousey rematch, the women’s bantamweight division is suddenly a lot more interesting. Somewhere out there, Miesha Tate is smiling.
Rousey, meanwhile, tastes defeat for the first time—a development that just hours ago, was almost impossible to fathom. She’s now 12-1 as a professional. You read that right. There’s no longer a zero on Ronda Rousey’s record.
Jedrzejczyk Out-Strikes Letourneau to Unanimous Decision Triumph
In the co-main event of the evening, UFC strawweight champion Joanna Jedrzejczyk looked to defend her title for a second time against Canada’s Valerie Letourneau. And while the Canadian has always been deserving of our props, she was not expected to have much to offer the dynamic divisional queen. Pegged as more than a -2000 favorite by most betting outlets, Jedrzejczyk was predicted to smash through her challenger as she has done to all of her recent opponents.
In the end, Letourneau put up far more of a fight than anybody expected. Throughout the bout, which unfolded almost exclusively on the feet, she was able to land repeatedly on the champ. All the same, by the time the final bell chimed, she’d been soundly out-hustled, falling victim to a non-stop torrent of leg kicks and punches in bunches.
With the win, the champion is now 3-0 in UFC title fights, and a perfect 11-0 overall. Her next challenge is likely to be a rematch with divisional rival Claudia Gadelha.
In defeat, Letourneau falls to a tough 8-4—a record that is hardly indicative of her talent. And while, at the end of the day she seemed to have little to offer the strawweight queen, her gritty performance showed she certainly belongs among the division’s elite fighters.
Hunt Drops Bigfoot with First-Round Punch
The middle bout of the pay-per-view paired hulking Brazilian Antonio “Bigfoot” Silva with the legendary Mark Hunt, who dropped over 40 pounds in preparation for the fight. The pairing marked the rematch of an unforgettable 2013 slobberknocker, which ended in a majority draw. Since their first encounter, however, both men have taken some serious damage at the hands of elite fighters like Stipe Miocic, Fabricio Werdum, Andrei Arlovski, and Frank Mir. So naturally, many fight fans expected this bout to look amply different than its predecessor. That is to say, a stoppage seemed far more likely than the sound of the final bell. These predictions proved accurate.
After a short feeling our process, Hunt landed the punch that mattered, and polished things off with ground and pound for a first round TKO.
The victory moves the iconic slugger above the .500 mark, as he now sits at 11-10-1 overall. And while the aging heavyweight’s best days are probably behind him, he continues somehow remains one of the division’s best. Bigfoot, meanwhile, is now 1-3 in his last 4 and 19-7-1 overall. The Brazilian bomber appears to be nearing the end of the road.
Whittaker Edges Hall in Middleweight Gunfight
Originally, Robert Whittaker was penciled in for a bout with British veteran Michael Bisping. When Bisping was injured, however, Whittaker was forced to shift his focus to the talented, if inconsistent, Uriah Hall.
Both middleweights entered the bout with epic stoppages in their wake. When we last saw Whittaker, he levelled Brad Tavares with a savage salvo of first-round punches. Hall, meanwhile, recently scored an upset for the ages over longtime contender Gegard Mousasi with a spinning kick and follow up strikes. In Australia, both karate stylists looked to become bona fide top-10 middleweights with another brilliant performance. And when all was said and done, the man to succeed was Whittaker—though Hall didn’t make it easy for him.
For three wild rounds, the two dynamic strikers traded heavy artillery across all levels, landing knees, kicks, elbows and punches throughout an unforgettable encounter.
In victory, Whittaker moves to 3-0 since jumping from welterweight to middleweight. At just 24, he’s now 15-4 overall. Hall, meanwhile, has the momentum of a two-fight streak halted. He’s now 12-6 overall.
Rosholt Edges Struve in Slow Fight
The main card began with a clash of middling heavyweights. In one corner, stood 7’0 Dutchman Stefan Struve who, in May, rebounded from a shaky skid with a decision triumph over Antonio “Minotauro” Nogueira. In the other corner, was talented wrestler Jared Rosholt, who lumbered onto the canvas with two wins behind him.
It was a close one. Though Rosholt was able to score with takedowns throughout the bout, Struve was active off his back, and was the markedly better man on the feet. Yet when the final bell chimed, the judges sided with the American.
The tight win moves Rosholt to 14-2, and pushes him onto a three fight streak. Struve meanwhile, returns to the loss column. He’s now 1-3 in his last 4 and 26-8 overall.
Matthews Elbows Force Doctor Stoppage
The final preliminary bout of this anticipated card paired 21-year-old Australian prospect Jake Matthews with Mexico’s Akbarh Arreola in an intriguing lightweight clash. Matthews’ last bout, which also occurred in Australia, saw him upset by a James Vick Guillotine choke. In Melbourne, he was nearly upset again.
In the bout’s first round, the young Australian was pushed to the brink, and nearly succumbed to a rear-naked choke. In the second, however, he turned the tide with a barrage of slicing elbows, which eventually led to a doctor stoppage.
The win moves Matthews to a solid 9-1 overall, and 3-1 in the UFC. Arreola, in contrast, slips to 23-10-1 in sum.
Noke Snipes Sobotta with Body Kick
In Melbourne, veteran Australian welterweight Kyle Noke looked for a memorable, home-field victory. His opportunity for that came against Polish-German submission specialist Peter Sobotta, who entered the bout on a seven-fight win-streak—a baffling six of which occurred via rear-naked choke.
There was no rear-naked choke for Sobotta in Melbourne. Instead, he found himself doubled-over from the impact of a rocket-powered front kick, and moments later, buried in a storm of ground and pound.
The first round win moves the 35-year-old Noke onto a two fight win-streak, and to 22-7 in sum. Sobotta, on the other hand, has a 7-fight streak snapped, and falls to 15-5-1 overall. He’s now 2-1 in this, his second stint with the UFC.
Villante Smokes Perosh in Round One
The lone light heavyweight bout of the night paired Chris Weidman training partner Gian Villante with Anthony Perosh, who is the oldest fighter currently competing in the UFC’s light heavyweight division.
Unfortunately for Perosh and the Australian fans in attendance, age is starting to look like a real factor. The Australian found himself on the wrong end of a one-punch knockout just minutes into the first round. It’s the seventh knockout or TKO loss of his career.
The win moves Vilante to 14-6 and separates him from a July loss to Tom Lawlor. Perosh, on the other hand, is now 15-10 overall, and a tough 1-3 in his last 4. He may have fought his last fight.
Martinez Out-Duels Vaculik to Decision
The televised prelims were launched by the second and final flyweight bout of the evening. In one corner, we had Australia’s Richie Vaculik, who returned to the Octagon after being snuffed by Louis Smolka in November of 2014. In the other corner, we had Danny Martinez, who entered the fight in do-or-die mode, having lost all three of his previous UFC bouts.
The story of this bout was Martinez’s pressure which, over the course of three rounds was more than enough to earn him a 30-27, unanimous decision win. The win, which is his first since December 2012, moves him to 18-7 overall and 1-3 in the UFC. Vaculik, meanwhile, falls to 10-4.
Kelly Rallies for Decision Triumph
The Fight Pass Prelims wrapped up by an interesting middleweight bout between a pair of fighters with a 14-year age disparity. In one corner, we had 6’4 TUF 21 veteran Steve “The Creepy Weasel” Montgomery. In the other, we had Australian Olympic judoka Daniel Kelly. Both fighters entered the bout with first-round knockout losses behind them, and looked to erase those memories with a strong performance.
Fortunately for the Australian fans in attendance, the man to accomplish that feat was Kelly. Leaning primarily on his patented grappling, and scoring surprisingly frequently on the feet, the Aussie stole rounds 1 and 3 for a unanimous decision.
In victory, he moves to 10-1 in total and 3-1 inside the UFC. Montgomery, on the other hand, slides to a tough 8-4 and stays winless in 2 UFC bouts.
Walsh Chops Down Kennedy
Bout three featured a clash of Australians as Sydney’s Richard Walsh mixed it up with Perth’s Steve Kennedy in an intriguing welterweight draw. Both men entered the bout with losses in the rear view mirror, and looked to win big on home soil. Of course, only one fighter could leave victorious, and in Melbourne, that fighter was Walsh.
With an onslaught of 119 total strikes, 30 of which were crippling impacts to Kennedy’s lead leg, the bearded slugger harnessed his inner lumberjack en route to a sound, unanimous decision win. In victory, he moves to 9-3 overall, and 2-2 in the UFC. Kennedy, meanwhile, falls to 22-8 overall, and has struck out in both of his UFC appearances.
Moontasri Spinning Attack Crumples Zafir
The second bout of the evening came courtesy of the welterweight division as James Moontasri took on Australia’s own Anton Zafir. The bout saw Moontasri make his welterweight debut, while Zafir made a short-notice UFC debut, stepping up to replace his injured teammate Brendan O’Reilly.
Despite a being put on his back in the bout’s opening frames, Moontasri shone brightly in his first fight as welterweight. Flaunting the striking for which he’s known, he put his opponent down with a spinning kick to the ribs, and a follow-up spinning back fist to the face.
The TKO victory moves Moontasri to 9-3 overall and 2-2 in the UFC. His opponent, meanwhile, loses for just the second time, and now sits at 7-2.
Nguyen Makes Quick Work of Benoit
The Australian action began in the flyweight division, as Ryan Benoit and Ben Nguyen went to war in a fun, if unheralded bit of matchmaking. Benoit looked to build on the momentum of a March walloping of Sergio Pettis, while Nguyen looked to extend his win-streak to an impressive eight.
In the end, this one was all Nguyen. Rocking his opponent in the bout’s early moments, he proceeded to drag things to the mat, where he secured back mount, and eventually, a tight rear naked choke. It’s the fourth fastest finish in UFC flyweight history. With the win, Nguyen moves to 14-5 overall and 2-0 in the UFC. Benoit, meanwhile, now sits at 8-4 overall and 1-2 in the UFC.
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