While competing in the UFC, one loss could end a career. No really, one landed left hand hook or a blocked leg kick (ask Anderson Silva), has the potential to make or break a fighter. However, if one is fortunate to have their hand held high and name announced by famous octagon announcer Bruce Buffer, his or her next fight could be against a ranked fighter, then a top five fighter, and finally the champion of the division. To this journalist it is called "Soaring to the Top," and three fighters have caught the attention of the nation as well as VAVEL USA to be recognized for their spectacular 2015 campaigns. Who are these fighters you ask? None other than Luke Rockhold, Holly Holm, and "The Notorious" Conor McGregor.
***Current Women's Bantamweight Champion
UFC 184: Holm - Pennington
Starting her UFC career at the beginning of this year (ironically at UFC 184: Rousey - Zingano), Holm moved to 1-0 in a split decision thanks to solely being the aggressor against Raquel Pennington (30-27, 28-29, and 29-28). Yes, "The Preacher's Daughter" showed off some impressive leg kicks as a part of her kickboxing and the ability to recover quickly when hit hard, but like in her boxing career she was victorious via a decision, not a knockout.
Succeeding her first fight in the octagon, the 18-time boxing champion said, "Because of all the hype, I feel I cannot live up to it. There is so much talk, and yeah there is a lot of nerves involved. I hate it (her debut) is a split-decision." Her second bout would be a bit more satisfying.
UFC Fight Night: Holm - Reneau
Facing fellow late UFC starter Marion Reneau on July 15, the now 34-year old's comfort level soared as she looked confident, resulting in more success of putting together side kicks and stinging punch combos. Additionally, even when her opponent induced clinches or mounted her back, Holm would escape harm's way (while slipping submission attempts) and come out with a multitude of significant strikes in her favor. Really, the statistics of the two fighters told the whole story as the former boxer had more than twice the number of total and significant strikes that Reneau had! Victory two was in the books! However, her third and final fight of 2015 would bring a challenge that could only be described as "rowdy."
***Women's Bantamweight Title Fight
Initially impressed by Holm after her first fight, the only UFC women's bantamweight champion Ronda Rousey had two future opponents in mind after quickly finishing Cat Zingano: Holly Holm and Bethe Correia. Following a swift knockout of the Brazilian Correia, it was Holm's turn to have a crack at the champion. She didn't squander it.
Sitting back and effectively landing counter-punches the New Mexico native bloodied Rousey by the end of Round 1 while completely dominating the first five minutes. Round 2 brought more of the same as the then champion was completely out of energy before she went "night-night."
It started with a simple left hand straight to "Rowdy's" chin that brought Rousey to her knees. Holm knowing her opponent was hurt, then went all-out and followed with a nasty left kick to the temple. Pow! Rousey hit the ground like a ton of bricks (and her head even bounced off the canvas) prior to Holm finishing the fight with three hammer fists. The UFC had a new bantamweight champion, and her name was Holly Holm.
Yet, the Rousey-Holm rivalry is far from over! In fact, it has just begun as UFC President Dana White has already committed to giving Ronda Rousey a rematch at UFC 200. So all in all, if you don't know who Holly Holm is now, you may want to learn her name because she is not going away anytime soon!
More VAVEL USA's UFC Year in Review...
December 26 - Fight of the Year (Lawler - MacDonald II)
December 27 - Submission of the Year (Rousey - Zingano)
December 28 - Knockout(s) of the Year (Rousey - Holm & Aldo - McGregor)
December 30 - Soaring to the Top (Luke Rockhold, Holly Holm, & Conor McGregor)