UFC 193 takes place Saturday night in the United States, emanating from Etihad Stadium in Melbourne, Australia. The event is expected to draw over 50,000 fans and set the UFC's live attendance record. Headlining the event is the undefeated UFC women's bantamweight champion Ronda Rousey defending her title against undefeated former boxing world champion Holly Holm. Rousey has become the sport's biggest star and a breakthrough mainstream celebrity. In the co-feature, the other UFC women's champion, strawweight queen Joanna Jedrzejczyk defends her title against Valerie Letourneau. Rousey and Jedrzejczyk are heavy betting favorites.
UFC Women's Bantamweight Title: Ronda Rousey vs. Holly Holm
Rousey's story is well known at this point, an Olympic bronze medalist in judo who is 12-0 in MMA with 11 first round stoppages and 1 third round stoppage. Her striking has improved greatly but her ground game and armbar remains her bread and butter. Holm was a world champion boxer who has won all her MMA fights. She hasn't looked great in the UFC thus far, however, and her ground game is a question mark against such a high level opponent.
Round 1. Rousey comes in swinging wildly with punches. Holm circles from the outside and connnects with a hard combination includes a straight punch to the jaw. Rousey clinches a minute and 20 seconds in. Holm brushes off the clinch and lands a few hard punches. Rousey is bleeding from the nose. Rousey gets a clinch and takes Holm down, but she can't get the armbar. Holm backs off and lands a big punch as they return to the feet. Rousey continues to look to close distance with Holm landing shots as she moves in. Holm is pounding Rousey with shots. Rousey hurts Holm with a hook. Holm is forced to clinch and takes Rousey down. Holm then backs off and stands up. Rousey charges in wildly in desperation. They clinch and exchange knees to the body. 10-9 Holm.
Round 2. Rousey dives in and gets caught with a couple of counter punches. Holm is a different level of striker. Holly Holm with a head kick that knocks Rousey out.
Winner: Holly Holm, KO, round 2.
That was one of the biggest upsets in MMA history. Holm when she entered MMA was thought to be a big challenge to anyone because of her boxing background and because she was knocking opponents out with head kicks. Her first two UFC fights were struggles even in victory and people backed off from that optimism even as she remained unbeaten. This fight affirmed those original hopes as Holm demonstrated all her skill and athleticism.
For Rousey, it was a bad weekend. She came off as a bad sportswoman insulting and refusing to touch gloves with the even tempered and good natured Holm and then fought a wild, dangerous fight that didn't show sufficient respect for her opponent's ability.
For UFC, it's likely a big victory. Rousey's star is already so high and it sets up what will be a massive money rematch, perhaps at UFC 200 next year.
UFC Women's Strawweight Title: Joanna Jedrzejczyk vs. Valerie Letourneau
Jedrzejczyk, the undefeated champion, is one of the most feared strikers in the sport following her demolitions of recent opponents. UFC is hoping she can become a star at the level of her ability. Letourneau has won four fights in a row but is getting this shot because other contenders were unavailable.
Round 1. Letourneau lands a couple punches that knock Jedrzejczyk down. She continues to land punches and elbows on the ground. Jedrzejczyk stands back up. Jedrzejczyk lands a few knees to the body by the cage while Letourneau maintains a clinch. They separate and exchange kicks. Jedrzejczyk lands a big front kick to the face but Letourneau is able to recover. 10-9 Letourneau.
Round 2. Letourneau lands a nice kick to the body. They exchange punches from close range. Both are very good defensively, avoiding power shots from the other. Letourneau lands a couple nice punches. Jedrzejczyk is beginning to throw more in the way of combinations as she gets more comfortable. Close round. 10-9 Jedrzejczyk by a hair.
Round 3. They clinch by the cage. Neither fighter is able to get an advantage and they break. Upon separation, Jedrzejczyk connects with another big front kick right up the middle. Letourneau answers with a few solid punches of her own. Jedrzejczyk looks more comfortable than she did early in the fight but Letourneau continues to hold her own. Letourneau lands a couple low kicks late. 10-9 Jedrzejczyk.
Round 4. Jedrzejczyk confidently returns to her boxing. She's landing more as the fight goes on and avoiding Letourneau's attempts at offense. Jedrzejczyk isn't brutalizing Letourneau like she has other recent opponents but she is landing a lot more as this fight goes on. Jedrzejczyk appears to hurt her a little with punches late in the round. 10-9 Jedrzejczyk. The first and second rounds were debatable but the third and fourth clearly belong to Jedrzejczyk.
Round 5. The fight has settled into a groove and the 5th is largely going down like the 3rd and 4th. Jedrzejczyk is bouncing on the balls of her feet, throwing crisp combinations and moving out of the way of counter offense. Letourneau is hanging in the pocket and firing back but just isn't landing at the same rate as the champion. Jedrzejczyk lands some nice leg kicks late and the fighters embrace at the close. 10-9 Jedrzejczyk, 49-46 Jedrzejczyk.
Winner: Joanna Jedrzejczyk, unanimous decision (49-46, 49-46, 50-45).
Letourneau fought a good fight, competing well throughout, but Jedrzejczyk's striking took over as the fight went on. It wasn't a star making performance for Jedrzejczyk competing right before Rona Rousey, but she showed her mettle when challenged and beat a game opponent.
Other UFC 193 results:
Ben Nguyen vs. Ryan Benoit
Nguyen, 13-5, first landed on the radar of MMA fans when a viral video spread of him knocking out a cocky, bullying tattooed opponent. Originally from South Dakota, he has been fighting primarily in Australia in recent years. Benoit is 8-3 and is coming off an upset win over Sergio Pettis.
Round 1. Nguyen hurts Benoit with a right hand. He follows with a knee to the body and Benoit goes down. Nguyen opens up with punches on the ground that have a lot of power and moves into advantageous full mount position. Benoit gives Nguyen his back and Nguyen sinks in a rear naked choke attempt. Benoit is able to prevent Nguyen from getting the choke sunk and Nguyen gives it up. Moments later Nguyen goes for the rear naked choke again and this time he gets the submission.
Winner: Ben Nguyen, submission, round 1.
That was a very impressive performance by Nguyen, who was a dominant offensive fighter standing and on the ground. With his 8th win in a row, Nguyen is going to receive some buzz in the thin flyweight division.
James Moontasri vs. Anton Zafir
Moontasri has been unimpressive in the UFC thus far, going 1-2 at lightweight. He is moving up to welterweight in an effort to stick with the promotion. Zafir is an Australian fighter who has accumulated a 7-1 record against soft competition.
Round 1. Moontasri lands a hard kick to the body at the start. Zafir answers a little while later with a hard overhand right. They clinch by the cage with Zafir looking for a takedown. Zafir takes Moontasri down and lands a few punches from half guard position. Zafir continues to land light punches until Moontasri returns to his feet with two minutes left in the round. Zafir clinches with Moontasri for a while before Moontasri finally gets separation. Moontasri lands a nice uppercut and spinning back kick. He adds a spinning back fist. Zafir crumbles from the kick and is forced to cover up on the ground. Moontasri lands punches until the referee stops the fight.
Winner: James Moontasri, TKO, round 1.
Moontasri wasn't able to get off for most of the round, but when he had an opportunity late he made it count. The vicious spinning back kick was a highlight reel shot.
Richard Walsh vs. Steve Kennedy
Both of these Australian fighters need a win here. Walsh's personality made him popular on Ultimate Fighter Nations but he lost his last two fights. Kennedy lost his UFC debut via first round submission.
Round 1. Walsh starts out extremely aggressively. He's hammering Kennedy with stiff leg kicks and following with rapid fire combinations of punches. He stuns Kennedy with punches and looks to finish but Kennedy is able to cover up and escape. Walsh continues to work over Kennedy with his punches. Kennedy gets a takedown with 90 seconds left in the fight and immediately sinks in his hooks, utilizing his legs to control Walsh's body. Kennedy looks to set up a rear naked choke. Walsh looks to spin out but ends up mounted. Kennedy lands a few punches and looks to set up a kimura at the end of the round. Walsh dominated the standup and Kennedy dominated the ground game. 10-9 Walsh.
Round 2. Walsh pushes forward with his punches to start the ground. Kennedy dives in for a low takedown. Walsh stuffs it and drops a few punches from top position. He then lets Kennedy stand back up. Walsh blocks another takedown and lands a few more punches from top position. He then lets Kennedy up again. Kennedy drops down and Walsh punishes him from the top. Walsh stands back up and Kennedy struggles to return to his feet. Kennedy looks for another takedown and gets it with two minutes left. Kennedy doesn't seem to have the same energy as in the first round and just sits on top without accomplishing much offensively. 10-9 Walsh.
Round 3. Walsh blocks a takedown and lands some knees to the back of Kennedy. They separate and Walsh lands a big punch. Walsh fends off another takedown. Kennedy has so little energy and is getting booed by the crowd for his seeming lack of effort. Walsh lands a few punches from a standing position to a grounded Kennedy and lets Kennedy up. Kennedy is mostly covering up as Walsh moves forward. Kennedy goes for a takedown and doesn't come close. Kennedy ends up on his back doing nothing again. Walsh drops down a big punch. 10-8 Walsh, 30-26 Walsh. Kennedy did nothing that round.
Winner: Richard Walsh, unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 29-28).
That wasn't a pretty fight. Walsh fought pretty well on balance but struggled on the ground. Kennedy looked awful and it will be a surprise if he isn't cut by the UFC following this performance.
Dan Kelly vs. Steve Montgomery
Kelly is a four time Olympian for Australia in judo. He is now 38, so he has limited time left to compete at a top level. He suffered his first MMA defeat in his last fight to Sam Alvey. Montgomery has the colorful nickname of the "Creepy Weasel." He was knocked out in his UFC debut.
Round 1. Kelly is pressuring early. He lands a hard left hand but Montgomery responds with a knee to the body and Kelly backs off. Kelly then cracks Montgomery with another big left hand. He follows with additional punches and then uses a judo throw to dump Montgomery on the ground. Kelly immediately goes to town with a series of elbows. Montgomery stands up halfway through the round but Kelly throws him back down. Kelly prevents Montgomery from standing up and takes his back. Kelly transitions into full mount but loses the position quickly. Kelly works from top position with punches. Montgomery looks to stand up but has to give up that attempt when Kelly goes for a D'Arce choke. 10-8 Kelly.
Round 2. As Kelly moves in, Montgomery lands a knee to the body and backs off. Kelly moves in with punches and clinches again. Kelly can't get a takedown. Montgomery separates and lands some good shots as Kelly moves back in. Kelly wants the fight in very close distance. Kelly finally gets a takedown halfway through the round. Montgomery is able to get back up and connects with some solid punches from range on the feet. Kelly is taking a lot of punishment moving in and Montgomery blocks a judo throw attempt. 10-9 Montgomery.
Round 3. Kelly immediately looks to close distance. He eats a knee to the body in the process. They exchange punches with each man landing. Kelly goes for a takedown and it is blocked again. Montgomery's punches are crisper at this point of the fight but Kelly still has good power. Kelly lands his big left hand a couple times and some knees. Kelly gets a takedown with 90 seconds left. Montgomery tries to get up and Kelly takes his back. Kelly looks for a rear naked choke but can't get it. Kelly transitions into an armbar attempt but doesn't get it. He then rolls into side control and then mount. He lands a series of punches, really turning it on late. Kelly looks for an arm triangle choke late but can't get it. 3rd round was close but Kelly definitely pulled it out at the end. 10-9 Kelly, 29-27 Kelly.
Winner: Dan Kelly, unanimous decision (29-28, 29-28, 29-28).
Kelly showed a lot of heart making the big effort in the final 90 seconds of the fight to pull out the win. He was dominant early but it looked like Montgomery was taking over until the surge at the end.
The television portion of the event begins with a moment of silence for the victims of the terrorist attacks in Paris.
Richie Vaculik vs. Danny Martinez
Vaculik, the Australian, is 1-2 in the UFC. Most of his wins have come via submission. Martinez is 0-3 in the UFC but is getting another chance.
Round 1. Martinez is swinging wildly while Vaculik looks to time his counters. Martinez gets the takedown and lands some punches from the top. Vaculik stands back up. Martinez gets Vaculik back down and lands some light punches there. The action is slow and the referee stands the fight back up. They throw wild punches back on the feet with neither man connecting much. Vaculik gets a takedown of his own but Martinez stands up and then takes down Vaculik. 10-9 Martinez.
Round 2. Martinez's punches continue to be wild, looping shots that don't land with much precision. However, the volume of his attempts has led Vaculik to not throw that much at all. Martinez gets a takedown. Vaculik gets back up. Martinez catches Vaculik with a hook and opens up in a hurry with wild punches and a knee looking to finish. He just isn't very accurate, though, and Vaculik recovers. Martinez gets a takedown. 10-9 Martinez.
Round 3. Vaculik blocks a takedown attempt. Martinez goes for another and gets it. Martinez can't accomplish much on the ground and Vaculik returns to his feet. Vaculik opens up a little with his punches and knees but Martinez switches levels and takes him down. On the ground, Vaculik lands a series of elbows to the head from the bottom. Martinez is able to start getting some offense in from the top but he hasn't been very effective on top throughout the fight. 10-9 Martinez, 30-27 Martinez.
Winner: Danny Martinez, unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 30-27).
That was not a fight that left you with the impression that either fighter belongs in the UFC.
Gian Villante vs. Anthony Perosh
Villante trains out of the same camp as UFC middleweight champion Chris Weidman. For quite a while he was considered a potential future star in the sport but he has never quite put it all together. He turned in one of the most impressive performances of his career earlier this year in upsetting Corey Anderson and was looking good in his next fight against Tom Lawlor before Lawlor knocked him out. Perosh is one of the most experienced UFC fighters from Australia, still fighting at age 43. His submission game has always been his specialty.
Round 1. Villante is punishing Perosh with punches early, connecting with power at will and mixing in solid kicks as well. Villante drops Perosh with a heavy right hand and the referee stops the contest.
Winner: Gian Villante, TKO, round 1.
That was a one sided beatdown by Villante. He was dominant for pretty much every second, hurting Perosh with superior speed, power and technique. It feels like he is putting his game together better than ever before.
Kyle Noke vs. Peter Sobotta
Noke is one of the most well known Australian fighters, having fought in major league MMA for most of the past decade. He was once a bodyguard for the "Crocodile Hunter" Steve Irwin. He has won 2 of his last 3 fights. Sobotta is a Polish-German fighter. He fought three times for UFC in 2009-2010 and lost all three fights. Since then, he has not lost in MMA competition. He picked up a series of wins outside UFC and then won his last two inside UFC.
Round 1. Noke looks crisp early with his combinations. He lands a kick to the body which causes Sobotta to scream in pain and collapse to the ground. Noke follows with additional punches on the ground until the referee mercifully calls it off. Sobotta tried to continue but it was all over with that kick to the body.
Winner: Kyle Noke, TKO, round 1.
Noke was impressive in ending Sobotta's long winning streak. Sobotta's body just wouldn't cooperate after taking that kick.
Jake Matthews vs. Akbarh Arreola
Matthews is considered Australia's top MMA prospect with a particularly good ground game. At just 21 years old, he has a world of potential and he has looked good thus far in the UFC. However, he suffered a setback in his most recent fight, a loss to James Vick. Arreola is a tough Mexican veteran who is 1-2 thus far in the UFC.
Round 1. Arreola lands a nice left hand early. Matthews answers with a right. Matthews clinches and pushes Arreola up against the cage. Upon separation, Arreola stuns Matthews with a looping left hand. Matthews ties Arreola up to regain his composure. Arreola lands a head kick moments later and Matthews goes down. Arreola follows with punches on the ground, gets in his hooks, and looks for a rear naked choke. He lands some punches and goes for the choke again but Matthews defends successfully. Matthews gets out and takes top position. He then goes to town with a series of big punches and elbows until the round comes to a close. The flurry was key because it prevented a 10-8 round. 10-9 Arreola.
Round 2. Matthews gets a takedown early. He goes to town with hard punches from top position and Arreola is mostly just covering up. Arreola has no answers. He's bleeding, just lying in closed guard and eating a non-stop barrage of punches. Arreola was unbelievably ineffective off his back. 10-8 Matthews. The doctor stops the fight between rounds due to terrible swelling by Arreola's eye.
Winner: Jake Matthews, doctor stoppage, round 2.
Matthews was in big trouble early but survived and came back with a fury. He definitely gets points for his toughness and heart, although the fight also raises questions about how good he is overall at this stage of his career.
Stefan Struve vs. Jared Rosholt
Struve is a unique fighter, standing near 7 feet tall. He doesn't utilize his reach as much as one would expect from such a tall fighter but has a dangerous ground game and striking power. He is coming off a win over the legendary Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira. Rosholt's strength is his wrestling and he is 5-1 in the UFC.
Round 1. Struve isn't throwing much at all early in spite of the huge reach advantage. Rosholt throws some low kicks while Struve walks him down. Rosholt gets a takedown and immediately is in side control position. Struve gets him into full guard but Rosholt works his way back into side control. Dull round. 10-9 Rosholt.
Round 2. There is deep bruising on the leg of Struve from a few kicks in the first round. Struve continues to just walk forward while throwing very little. After all these years it's remarkable he hasn't worked to take better advantage of his reach. Rosholt clinches and presses Struve by the cage. Nothing happens and they break. Rosholt gets a takedown halfway through the round and is immediately in side control. Struve is able to get full guard but still isn't able to do much there. Struve looks to attack the arm late buy can't get anything. 10-9 Rosholt.
Round 3. Struve walks forward, throwing little. 50 seconds in, he throws a lone jab. He goes for a power uppercut. Rosholt grabs a single leg two minutes in but Struve pulls away. Rosholt looks tired. Struve lands a head kick. Rosholt isn't doing much at all and Struve could capitalize but he throws so rarely and almost always one shot at a time. It's so frustrating to watch because he could do so much more. Rosholt gets a takedown with a minute left. Struve gets up with 30 seconds left and the crowd is loudly booing the inactivity. Struve gets a takedown very late and Rosholt just holds on. 10-9 Struve, 29-28 Rosholt. That was not a good fight at all.
Winner: Jared Rosholt, unanimous decision (29-28, 29-28, 29-28).
Struve is such a frustrating fighter to watch because he's got so many natural advantages and he doesn't utilize them in fights at all. Rosholt won but did little to nothing to impress.
Uriah Hall vs. Robert Whittaker
Hall is a dynamic offensive fighter who has some of the most spectacular knockouts in the sport. However, he has lost fights he shouldn't have and doesn't always fight at the level he could. Whittaker is an Ultimate Fighter winner from Australia riding a three fight win streak.
Round 1. Whittaker attacks aggressively from the start, winging some punches at Hall and particular a right hand that connects well. Hall looks to establish his jab and time Whittaker. Whittaker connects with a couple more punches and catches Hall coming in with a takedown. Whittaker lands some punches from the top and gets into side control. Hall tries to get up but Whittaker takes his back. Hall rolls out into top position and drops down a few shots before the round concludes. 10-9 Whittaker.
Round 2. Whittaker lands a couple punches and looks for a takedown. Hall prevents that but Whittaker is dictating the pace of the fight. Hall begins to open up with some wild techniques but hasn't been able to land anything big. Hall lands a few nice leg kicks. Whittaker continues to have success throwing short hooks as Hall is moving in. Close round. 10-9 Whittaker.
Round 3. Whittaker lands a solid left hand early. He hurts Hall with additional punches by the cage and Hall is forced to simply cover up. Hall is having trouble with his vision as well. Whittaker presses Hall against the cage, lands a nice elbow, and separates. Hall lands a head kick and then a spectacular flying knee. Whittaker is bleeding around the nose. Hall lands a front kick. He's really pouring it on late. Whittaker answers with a few solid punches of his own. Whittaker adds a few shots to the body. He grabs Hall's back from the standing position and the fight comes to an end. 10-9 Hall, 29-28 Whittaker.
Winner: Robert Whittaker, unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 29-28).
That's a very nice win for Whittaker against a tough opponent. He fought a smart fight and earned his fourth victory in a row. He's likely to get some significant fights in the near future and will have the chance to prove he belongs with the upper echelon of the division.
Mark Hunt vs. Antonio "Bigfoot" Silva
This is a rematch of a December 2013 draw that was one of the best heavyweight fights in MMA history. It will be tough to live up to that standard as Hunt is 41 and took a terrible beating in his last fight while Silva had to give up the testosterone replacement therapy he relied on after undergoing surgery to remove a pituitary gland tumor.
Round 1. The fighters feel each other out early, mostly just throwing the occasional kick over the first minute and a half. Hunt lands the first big blow of the fight, a hard kick to the body halfway through the round. Silva uses a knee to the body. Hunt connects with a pair of punches, drops him with a third and the referee steps in.
Winner: Mark Hunt, TKO, round 1.
As expected, the fight didn't match the excitement of the first. Silva just can't take a punch like he once could. For Hunt, it's a solid win and allows him to continue on past the age of 40.
Follow on Twitter at @ToddMartinMMA.