Laila Ali thinks things might be different the second time around between Ronda Rousey and Holly Holm. Just not any better for Rousey.
The daughter of Muhammad Ali, and a legendary women's boxer in her own right, was none too impressed with Rousey's striking skills in fighters with Holm and Bethe Correia. And she believes Holm was just getting started with her second-round knockout of Rousey at UFC 193 in November.
"I personally do not think that she'll beat Holly Holm [in a rematch]," Ali said in an interview with Chael Sonnen. "I think that if she fought her again, then the same thing and worse will happen. Holly Holm was just getting warmed up. You know what I'm saying? She was just getting warmed up. She had nerves, too. This was her big moment."
Ali said the first time she watched Rousey fight was back in August when the former UFC women's bantamweight champion fought Bethe Correia. Rousey knocked out Corriea in just 34 seconds. But Ali saw a lot of issues with Rousey's skills in that short amount of time, she said.
"I noticed right away when the fight started, I was like, 'She doesn't have any head movement,'" Ali said. "She came straight in and she got busted in the face so many times where she had a bloody nose.
"I saw that the girl she fought wasn't really a challenge for her, but I was able to see her mistakes. Not moving your head is a big mistake when you're getting into the ring with someone who has a boxing background."
Ali seems to believe Rousey's credentials as the best women's MMA fighter in the world were a product of promotion. "Rowdy" was absolutely regarded as that after dominating opponents through her first 12 fights, with 11 first-round finishes, many of which came in the opening seconds.
"People hype fighters up, but at the end of the day, what did Ronda Rousey have? 12 fights, something like that," Ali said. "And they're calling her the best fighter ever, and I see that she truly believes that about herself.
"You're only as good as the opposition you face. There were some girls out there I never had the opportunity to face. But I saw Ronda Rousey kind of act like she really does believe that she's the best female fighter in the world. I was thinking, wow, she hasn't even faced some of the other girls that are considered to be the best."
Ali said she could see Rousey get frustrated against Holm, like when she swung for a left hook and ended up on her knees. She believes that was a product of Rousey's cockiness.
"You feel stupid," Ali said. "You really do in the ring."
Ali, of course, knows Holm from boxing. Holm was a three-division boxing champion and a two-time Ring Magazine women's boxer of the year. Ali said Holm actually called her out once, which she respected since Ali is significantly bigger than Holm. What Ali didn't know about Holm was her kickboxing prowess, so she was stunned when Holm beat Rousey with a head kick.
"I was like, whoa," Ali said. "I didn't think it was gonna happen like that, but I did know that Holly Holm was going to win."
Just like she knows Holm will win the rematch, which is not likely to happen before the second half of the year due to Rousey's movie obligations. Holm has made an extremely successful transition to MMA and is about to make her first title defense against Miesha Tate in the co-main event of UFC 196 on March 5 in Las Vegas. Ali will be rooting for her.
"This is her moment," Ali said. "She can make way more money and get way more exposure in the UFC. I'm happy for her."