Ronda Rousey, the Ultimate Fighting Championship's biggest star, sent her fame soaring to unprecedented heights with a 16-second knockout win over Alexis Davis at UFC 175.
It wasn't just the speed, though there was plenty of that. It was Rousey's efficiency, the way she effortlessly transitioned from striking to grappling.
The champion stormed out of the gate with strikes, catching one punch to the face during the first exchange. From there, everything happened far too quickly for Davis to comprehend; Rousey landed a left hook that staggered Davis and then a knee to the body.
And then, in a move Rousey has executed countless times during her career as a judoka, she grabbed Davis in a headlock and sent her soaring, flipping her with a picture-perfect throw. Rousey landed on top of Davis and immediately began punching her in the face. Davis, who had never recovered from the first left hook and the shock of being tossed on her head, went limp. The fight was stopped.
What are we to make of Rousey? She has the looks and the marketability, to be sure. She has a burgeoning Hollywood career. But more than that, she has drastically improved as a fighter, and she has done so at a speed that is unprecedented. Only Jon Jones, the light heavyweight champion, can be said to have improved as much as Rousey in such a short time period.
She executed her game plan perfectly. On Wednesday afternoon, a member of her camp told me she would be going for the knockout and that she would be doing so early. She'd been working on her boxing every day and reducing the amount of time she spent grappling. When she beat Sara McMann with a knee to the body, some called it a fluke and an early stoppage.
Rousey wanted to prove a point, and she wanted to do so with her hands. She swarmed Davis from the opening bell, and the challenger—who was completely overmatched from the time the fight was first announced—well, she never knew what hit her.
There is nobody like Rousey in mixed martial arts, and I'm not even talking about her commercial appeal. Again, she is the UFC's biggest star. But strictly on an athletic level, there is nobody, except perhaps fellow Olympian Daniel Cormier, who can match her for sheer physical prowess and talent.
She is so good, in fact, that it is nearly impossible to imagine any member of the UFC's female roster having a remote chance of beating her. Even Holly Holm, a fantastic striker, would likely be quickly dispatched by Rousey.
In reality, there is only Cyborg. The talks with Gina Carano may lead to something, and that something may end up doing big business. But only Cris Justino represents a true threat to Rousey's reign.
And after what saw Saturday night, I'm not even sure Justino beats Rousey.
Like the new article format? Send us feedback!