The crowd started booing rather early in the first round itself. Fighting before them, in a caged-octagon ring was a trained boxer fighting a jiu-jitsu proponent. Both athletes come from sports where a lack in defensive strength cannot be made up for with attacking intent. And so at Singapore Indoor Stadium, on the UFC Fight Night, the pair stayed glued to the steel edges, grappling without much intent of making a killer move. On a rare occasion, a punch or kick (that missed the target altogether) would come up – an oasis in the mundane desert the match was turning into.
But this wasn’t the bout people had come to see. The main event was between a pair of serial brawlers, Holly Holm and Bethe Correia. All styles work when it comes to mixed martial arts, and especially in the sport’s marquee promotion.
Before taking up the MMA, Holm had forged a formidable professional boxing career for herself, while Correia is a prominent practitioner of Brazilian jiu-jitsu – two attack-centric disciplines.
Yet they too weren’t spared the boos from fans, especially since the five-round main event match had its first piece of meaningful action come late in the second round. But for all the hype and the reputation of both competitors being hardy combatants, all it took was one kick to decide the match.
Correia took a moment to taunt Holm, challenging her to take a shot. It proved to be the opportunity that Holm, and the 8,414 strong crowd in the stadium waiting for.
Just as she did when she faced and beat UFC poster girl and bantamweight champion Ronda Rousey in 2015, Holm struck Correia with a kick to the head.
Finally, there was a change of chants from the stands, as Correia sank to the mat and Holm stepped forward to complete the knockout with a punch to end her three-match losing streak since defeating Rousey. “She can make a mess of a fight and I wanted to keep it clean. So I had to wait for my chance,” Holm explains, after the bout.