Holly Holm’s defeat of Ronda Rousey in Melbourne, Australia last Sunday for the UFC women’s bantamweight title was the kind of victory I particularly relish. I have been a fan of Rousey. It is hard not to be – she has been so dominant (her fights have averaged less than a minute long). She was considered unbeatable – the most dominant athlete in the world. Before pursuing a career as a UFC fighter, Rousey was an Olympic bronze medalist in Judo. Her fighting style is based upon this training. She is a grappler and brawler. Holm, conversely, is a world champion, undefeated boxer. This was her first UFC fight. She is taller than Rousey. Her wing-span is long even for her height. She boxed Rousey with supreme skill, landing more than thirty scoring punches and kicks before knocking her out half-way through the second round. She figured out how to beat the unbeatable opponent.
That’s why I am so excited about Holm’s victory. I always love it when someone figures out how to beat the unbeatable foe. I love for intelligence to triumph over brute force and superior skill. My favorite athletic event ever is The Rumble in the Jungle, Muhammad Ali’s knockout of George Foreman in Kinshasa, back in 1974. I was an Ali fan, and I thought he had no chance against Foreman who had demolished Frazier with an uppercut which lifted him off the floor like he was an inflatable clown. But Ali figured it out. He invented the “rope-a-dope,” letting Foreman, who had never gone past the fourth round, punch himself out. By the eighth round Foreman was so tired he couldn’t even lift his arms and Ali pummeled him into the canvas.
Brute force, superior skill, and intelligence are all possible paths to victory. None guarantee success, for “the race is not to the swift, nor the battle to the strong, nor bread to men of wisdom for time and chance happen to all” (Ecclesiastes 9.11). None of these three strategies are of any use against our adversary, the devil.
We are no match for him. His intelligence is more advanced, his skill superior, and his brute force more brutish. He is “a roaring lion” – an apex predator (I Peter 5.8). There is only one strategy that works against him – resistance.
Be watchful. Your adversary, the devil, prowls around like a roaring lion seeking someone to devour. Resist him, firm in your faith, knowing that the same kinds of suffering are being experienced by your brotherhood throughout the world. I Peter 5.8-10 ESV
We think we can manage him. We think we can stay one step ahead. We think that we can be strong enough on our own. We lie to ourselves. We go places we ought not. We fill our minds with garbage. We take damaging things into our bodies. We indulge pernicious feelings. We think somehow we will deal with it all. We are wrong. There is only one response to make to our enemy – resistance. When we resist he flees.
Resist the devil and he will flee from you. James 4.7.
Our resistance is successful because we are empowered by God. He will not let us go (Romans 8.31-39). He who is with us is greater that he who is with our enemies (II Kings 6.16). Our faith is the victory that overcomes the world (I John 5.4).
Jesus says that if our right eye offends we should gouge it out, and if our right hand offends we should cut it off (Matthew 5.29). Jesus says we should resist, even by drastic means. I wonder what we would do if Jesus had said to remove our tablets and our smart phones instead of our hands and our eyes.
None of our strategies is sufficient. Time and chance happen to all. God’s strategy is sure. Resist the Devil and he will flee.