Holly Holm’s shocking victory over Ronda Rousey at UFC 193 raised her stock to an all-time high.
So high, in fact, that even the Albuquerque, N.M., native knew it was going to be difficult to live up to the lofty expectations she set heading into her showdown with Miesha Tate at UFC 196. Different opponent. Different set of skills. And as it turned out, far different result.
“I had two fights in the UFC and they said next up is Ronda and I said, ‘Great, let’s do this.’ I know coming into this next fight it was a whole different fight,” Holm said. “I knew everybody’s expectations were high. I still feel like I’m learning. This is still the beginning for me. I haven’t been doing MMA that long. I feel like I have a lot to accomplish in this sport. The Ronda fight was a big high. It was also back in November.”
Tate adopted a far different approach on Saturday than Rousey did some four months ago in Australia. Where “Rowdy” rushed forward, Tate was more deliberate. Still, other than a precarious second stanza in which she was nearly submitted, Holm was able to rack up points on the scorecards by controlling the range with her striking. If not as enthralling as her beatdown of Rousey, the performance was effective enough, that, if Holm had been able to stay the course for two more minutes, she would have likely earned a narrow verdict over Tate.
Instead, it was Tate who once again showcased her trademark resilience by forcing Holm to tap to a rear-naked choke 3:30 into the final period.
“For me, any time I lose, I have to be honest with myself. I knew I was ahead on the scorecards,” Holm said. “Maybe I felt like I was a little too complacent there instead of still acting with that sense of urgency. …I let her get in way too tight before I tried to shuck her off. Big mistake, it cost me everything tonight, but I’ll be back.”
The loss did nothing to sap Holm’s competitive spirit. While the lucrative Rousey rematch may be on the backburner for now, that seemed to be of little concern to the Jackson-Wink MMA product.
“I want to fight Miesha tomorrow. She would want the same thing [if she lost]. I am more anxious to get in and train than I have been in a long time,” Holm said. “Everybody asked, ‘Why are you taking this fight? You should wait for the rematch [with Rousey].’ I’m in it to fight. Tonight I made some mistakes. I’m going to fix those mistakes and I’m going to come back stronger.
“Miesha capitalized. She can be behind in a fight and she can still finish. I let my guard down and it cost me the fight. I want to get back in the gym and get better. I do feel like my whole MMA career has been on this fast course, which I love and I want the challenge.”
Despite the newfound fame and obligations that accompanied her upset of Rousey and first title defense, Holm says she doesn’t plan on taking an extended break after UFC 196. Whether it’s Tate, Rousey or someone else, she’ll be eagerly awaiting the next call from UFC brass.
“I’ll be training right away, and I’ll take the fight as soon as they give anything to me. It’s whatever opportunity they give to me. Who doesn’t want a rematch? If you’re making this your career, it’s because you have passion for it, it’s because you have pride, that want for victory. That is what I want,” she said. “The biggest thing that hurts right now is my heart. I do want the rematch. But who’s to say they’ll give it too me right away? If I have to fight somebody else to get there, that’s OK.”