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2015 SWFight.com Awards: Holly Holm Sweeps Three Different Awards

Holly Holm wins 2015 SWFight.com’s MMA Fighter of the Year, Knockout of the Year, and Upset of the Year

There can be no argument that Holly hit a Holm run in 2015. Keeping her undefeated record intact was unbelievably the least of her accolades for the calendar year as “The Preacher’s Daughter” most notably stunned the combat sport’s world with a violent beatdown and knockout over media darling and arguably the most groundbreaking female combat athlete of all-time, Ronda Rousey. Not only is Holly Holm our staff’s pick for MMA Fighter of the Year, but she also wins in the categories of Upset of the Year and Knockout of the Year.

Upset of the Year – Holly Holm vs. Ronda Rousey – UFC 193, November 13th, 2015

I know New Mexico is excited that Holm returned to Albuquerque with the UFC Women’s Bantamweight Title but let’s settle down with all the fans who said they “knew” Holm was going to win. If that was truly the case, I hope the thousands of people uttering this phrase bet big on Holm just like her manager and team did. At one point, you could get a bet going on Holm at the ridiculous odds of +1250 while Rousey sat pretty at -2000. In layman’s terms, Holm was a 20-1 underdog, noting her as one of the biggest underdogs in the history of the UFC and definitely of any challenger fighting for a UFC Title.

So let’s be real, you all wanted her to win, but outside of New Mexico, not too many people thought Holm would survive the beast that was Rousey. Six minutes into their historic clash, Rousey was served her Holm-made beatdown (last pun, I swear) and as everyone around the world sputtered in disbelief, Albuquerque’s own, Holly Holm, had just defeated Ronda Rousey, a champion many thought to be unbeatable after trampling every opponent in her path to that point.

Holly Hom Greg Jackson Mike WinkeljohnNow many have pointed and laughed at me for picking Rousey to win the fight so let me just take a second of your time to lay down some legitimate facts for you; Prior to their meeting in November, each incredibly talented fighter competed on two occasions. In fact, they fought basically at the same time during the year with one of Holm’s fights featured on the undercard of a Rousey-headlined event.

The main difference? The results.

Holly struggled to defeat Raquel Pennington in her UFC debut, edging out the Colorado fighter in a split decision result. When I say struggle, what I mean is that Holm didn’t seem to land many significant strikes and Pennington, despite being a fringe ranked fighter, was always competitive throughout the 15-minute bout.

In her second UFC bout, Holm was too much for her opponent–another fringe ranked opponent– Marion Reneau. Holm was able to capture victory and remain undefeated but outside of her loyalist, Holm’s two UFC bouts left much to be desired as she wasn’t the same fighter she was on the regional scene where she typically finished overmatched opponents. I would love to hear the argument that these two fights made Holm a world-beater of any sorts.

Holly Holm LegacyFlip over to Rousey who in two bouts only need 48-seconds accumulatively to end both of her bouts. First, Rousey beat the number one contender and fellow undefeated fighter Cat Zingano in 14-seconds. Several months later, Rousey needed a bit more time, 34-seconds, to finish a top contender and another undefeated fighter, Bethe Correia.

Let’s do the math: Rousey’s 2015 opponent’s record – 18-0 (Bethe and Cat both 9-0 prior to fighting Ronda) vs. Holm’s 2015 opponent’s record – 9-5 (Raquel 5-4, Marion 6-1). Rousey’s fight time – 48-seconds vs. Holm’s fight time of 30-minutes. Number of top ten opponents in 2015 – Rousey – 2 vs. Holm – 0.

This was our era’s Matt Serra vs. Georges St. Pierre. There was little to indicate that Holm or Serra had a chance against a Champion who showed nothing less than pure domination during their title reign. The win was truly one of spectacular surprise world-wide and created one of the most shocking upsets in combat history.

It was an easy choice to name Holm’s defeat over Rousey as the “Upset of the Year”. The story however, may have been how Holly accomplished victory which leads us to the next award.

Knockout of the Year – Holly Holm vs. Ronda Rousey – UFC 193, November 13th, 2015

Ronda Rousey vs. Holly HolmFans of Holm and of MMA in general were so busy celebrating the memorable knockout that they may have forgotten how much of an upset the victory of Holm truly was, but that may have been for a real good reason.

Holm brutally battered Rousey for the duration of the first round including an escape of Rousey’s notoriously strong positional control where it appeared Rousey was looking to set up her patented armbar. Rousey looked like an amateur up against the superior striking talents of Holm and Rousey’s face told the tale of Holm’s elite striking capabilities.

While Holm spent five minutes of the first round altering Rousey’s Hollywood-ready face, it was within the first minute of the second round that really put Holm on the map going forward.

Clearly dazed and out-of-her-element, Rousey made the terrible decision of leaving herself wide-open to the onslaught of her opponent. Without any sort of defense around her face, Holm threw her own patented signature move – a head-kick – to the jaw of Rousey rendering her immediately defenseless.

The kick heard ’round the world!

Now officially signed onto the UFC's roster, arguably WMMA's best striker will find herself on a collision course with UFC Champion Ronda Rousey.  Photo Credit: Will Fox / Sherdog / Southwest Fight News / The Fox Identity

Now officially signed onto the UFC’s roster, arguably WMMA’s best striker will find herself on a collision course with UFC Champion Ronda Rousey.
Photo Credit: Will Fox / Sherdog / Southwest Fight News / The Fox Identity

The brutal head-kick was already a feature on Holm’s highlight reel but the kick wasn’t seen in all of its glory and violence during Holm’s two-fight tenure with the UFC. During her regional run, Holm used a kick-heavy attack to polish up several victories and utilizing the high kick as a finish move. Opponents Allana Jones and Juliana Werner have been on the receiving end of Holm high kicks and each of them crumbled to the mat in similar fashion to Rousey.

It was a knockout over the top woman fighter in the history of MMA. It was a knockout that captured Holly’s first World Title in MMA to compliment her Boxing World Titles. It was the first time in Rousey’s career that she looked even slightly vulnerable. It was the first time Holly showed the world, in sense of exposure, how dangerous her talents truly are. And finally, it was done on the sport’s brightest stage for an event that was heavily focused upon Rousey’s dominance.

Did any other knockout even have a chance?

MMA Fighter of the Year – Holly Holm

Was this award ever in any doubt? This panel representing SWFight thought long and hard on this. It is clear that Holm is the most deserving but our efforts on this site are geared towards helping with the exposure of local fighters who may not get the media attention the stars of MMA residing in our state receive. In fact, ever since her win over Rousey – I have seen Holmes Holms Homes Holm’s name multiple times each day online. It is safe to say she doesn’t require more media to gain more exposure as Holm may be the most talked about fighter in the game right now not named Conor McGregor.

But it just wouldn’t be right.

Photo Credit: Will Fox / Sherdog.com / Southwest Fight News / The Fox Identity

Photo Credit: Will Fox / Sherdog.com / Southwest Fight News / The Fox Identity

Holly is now 10-0, which includes her 3-0 2015 capped off by the title victory over Ronda Rousey. Not only is Holm winning inside the cage, she is winning everywhere else as well. She is the role model that MMA has so desperately missed since Randy Couture retired and she is a beacon of optimism for those that really enjoy sportsmanship in combat sports.

Holm could be anyone’s role model. She is professional. She is well-spoken. From what people close to her say, she is the same person on TV as she is in person, a rarity in the entertainment business, and she is compassionate all-around. What more could you ask for in an athlete?

It just wouldn’t be right to name anyone else Fighter of the Year. Holm really took the sport by the horns this year and made a name for herself while simultaneously carving out a legacy that will be remembered forever. It isn’t too often that an individual can go from relative unknown world-wide to one of the most prominent individuals to ever show their craft in a single calendar year.

But Holly did.

SWFight.com MMA Fighter of the Year in 2015 – Holly Holm.

Past Winners:
Damacio Page
Kevin Croom
2012: Carlos Condit/Brenda Gonzales

About Phillip Lujan

Phillip Lujan is one of the lead contributors and a featured writer for SWFight.com. Specializing in MMA breakdowns and analysis, Phillip is considered the MMA aficionado on staff. With nearly ten years of experience in combat sports, gazing through the eyes perceptively as a fan and a cornerman and from fight manager to analyst. He can be reached on twitter at @KingStark24 or through email at marcello.lujan@gmail.com.