Before Holly Holm was formally introduced at a press conference in Albuquerque, N.M., on Tuesday afternoon, her UFC 193 triumph over Ronda Rousey was replayed on a pair of projection screens inside Legends Theater at Route 66 Casino.
To say the new UFC women’s bantamweight champ enjoyed the presentation wouldn’t be entirely accurate. Instead, Holm used the time to critique her performance, one that turned out to be one of last year’s most shocking and dominant efforts.
“It’s like, ‘Chill out, you already know what happens,’” Holm said sheepishly. “I’m always looking for holes in my game, things that I didn’t do perfect. That’s what we’re doing right now: perfecting some of the things that I didn’t do just right in that fight. Yes it was awesome, turned out in my favor and everything we worked on panned out in the fight, but there are things to perfect, things to get better at and that’s what we’re working on for this next fight.”
Holm, of course, has moved on from Rousey for the time being as she prepares to make her first title defense against Miesha Tate at UFC 196 in Las Vegas on March 5. While Rousey is taking time away from the Octagon and isn’t likely to return until late 2016, she hasn’t strayed far from the headlines.
That was once again the case on Tuesday, as the Olympic judoka gave a candid interview during an appearance on “The Ellen Degeneres Show.” Perhaps was the most concerning revelation was that Rousey even contemplated suicide in the immediate aftermath of her first career defeat.
‘Honestly, I was in the medical room, I was down in the corner. I was like, ‘What am I anymore if I’m not this?’ I was literally sitting there and thinking about killing myself,” Rousey said. “In that exact second I’m like, ‘I’m nothing. What do I do anymore? And no one gives a s—t about me anymore without this.’”
Prior to facing Holm, Rousey had been utterly dominant throughout her professional MMA tenure. Only one opponent made it past the first round against her, and “Rowdy” was rarely threatened on the way to 12 consecutive wins. In the process, she became the sport’s biggest mainstream star, which opened the door for opportunities most mixed martial artists will never see.
That aura of invincibility came crashing down thanks to a Holm head kick in Melbourne last November. The Jackson-Wink MMA product did her best to navigate a difficult subject matter when asked to address Rousey’s comments.
“There’s a lot of things around that. When I heard that she said that, for me it’s one of those things it’s like, ‘How do I respond to that?’” Holm said. “I don’t want to say I’m sorry because I think on a competitive level for me, if somebody was to say they’re sorry after [beating me], it’s like, ‘No, I’m a competitor.’ I’m not a charity case.
“I feel like that’s something the best thing is for me not to say anything at all. I don’t want to say that I’m glad that she felt that way and I don’t want to say, ‘Oh I’m so sorry.’ It’s something I think that you have to dig through on your own. In the long run, she’ll be stronger mentally from it.”
The lowest point of Holm’s combat sports career came during her professional boxing days, when she suffered a devastating knockout loss to Frenchwoman Anne Sophie Mathis on Dec. 2, 2011. It was Holm’s first loss in 24 bouts since 2004, and a rare sight to see her so thoroughly decimated.
Seven months later, Holm avenged the loss, taking a unanimous decision over Mathis in a strategically sound performance in her home state. She hasn’t lost a bout in MMA or boxing since. But in the hours, days and weeks following that loss, Holm admits there was an emotional rebuilding period.
“I know when I did go through [my loss], I needed the help, the support around me. But also it was a very sensitive subject,” she said. “A lot of things that people said, depending on who it was and who maybe experienced that were like, ‘Oh I know what you’re going through.’ I’m like, ‘You don’t really know what I’m going through because it’s a different situation.’ Every situation is different.”
While Holm was dejected after the loss to Mathis, she credits her team and family for keeping things in perspective. Still, there is a part of Holm that can empathize with Rousey, because she knows what it means to give so much of herself only to come up short.
“I hurt for her that she feels that way because that is a very low place. I did have a lot of help around me to where I did not feel that way,” Holm said. “People would say, ‘Oh it’s not the end of the world.’ I was like, ‘Well that’s exactly what it feels like, the end of the world.’
“When you put your heart and soul into something and it gets shut down devastatingly, it’s terrible. It’s a horrible feeling.”