Call it the kick felt ’round the world.
In one of the greatest sports upsets in recent memory, former world boxing champion Holly Holm (10-0) knocked out previously undefeated MMA champion and Olympic judo bronze medalist Ronda Rousey (12-1) with a crushing left head kick to claim the UFC bantamweight title Sunday in a packed Etihad Stadium in Melbourne, Australia.
The taller, rangier Holm, who was considered a significant underdog when the bout was announced, forced Rousey to fight upright for most of the match. By fending off Rousey’s takedown attempts, Holm had turned the fight into a boxing match, effectively neutralizing Rousey’s unparalleled grappling skill.
The defeat seems all the more surprising because Rousey has, in the past few months, showcased her sunnier side in multiple media appearances, leveraging her charm off the mat to become UFC’s first bona-fide media darling. She was featured in Maxim; she made headlines when she agreed to go to the Marine Corps Ball with a courageous soldier; she hyped the fight on The Tonight Show; she co-hosted SportsCenter; she starred in a new Carl’s Jr. ad; she locked down a starring role in the Road House reboot.
Oh, and about that Tonight Show appearance: Rousey told Jimmy Fallon that Holm was “the biggest threat, definitely, to me.”
Even after the loss, however, Rousey earned some encouragement from her fellow fighters, among them former heavyweight champion George Foreman, who knows a thing or two about winning (and losing) huge fights.
Down goes Muhammad,Frazier & Foreman RONDA ROUSEY we all came back so will you. pic.twitter.com/7STsY4X8QB
— George Foreman (@GeorgeForeman) November 15, 2015