On Saturday night, during the third round of a thrilling U.F.C. bout between Holly Holm, the bantamweight champion, and Miesha Tate, the challenger, one of the announcers broke an unwritten rule.
“As the business side, I absolutely hate it.” If Holm lost to Tate, then a Holm-Rousey rematch would be diminished-it would be a grudge match, but no longer a championship match.
Against Tate, one of Holm’s biggest assets seemed to be her four-inch reach advantage, and as the first round began, she used her fists and feet to keep Tate too far away to threaten her.
In the second round, Tate took Holm to the canvas, w Tate had a decided advantage.
Holm survived the second round against Tate, although she clearly lost it, and she returned to form in the third and fourth, landing just enough precise punches and kicks to keep Tate away, and to sway the judges.
If Tate had won the fifth, the result probably would have been a draw, and Holm would have kept her belt; to win the championship, Tate needed to do something extraordinary, which seemed unlikely.
Tate ducked, rushed in, grabbed Holm around the waist and wrestled her to the mat.
Holm staggered to her feet and lurched forward, trying to throw Tate off her back, but Tate held fast, sinking her forearm under Holm’s chin-a method of strangulation known to fans as a rear naked choke.
One of the commentators bellowed, “She put her to sleep!” Holm’s reign had lasted precisely sixteen weeks; now Tate was the bantamweight champion of the U.F.C. Does that mean Tate is the best? In these muddy waters, nothing is clear: Holm has knocked out Rousey, Tate has choked out Holm, and Rousey has beaten Tate twice, each time by applying an armbar so painful that Tate conceded-winning by submission can seem even more convincing than winning by knockout.