It seems like an eternity ago when Holly Holm was at the top of her game as an undefeated former three-division boxing world champion who invaded MMA and eventually head-kicked Ronda Rousey into oblivion.
But in the four-plus years since UFC 193, where Holm snatched Rousey’s bantamweight title with one of the greatest knockouts in UFC history, the Jackson-Wink MMA standout has struggled mightily. She was put to sleep by Miesha Tate in her first title defense and then lost to both Valentina Shevchenko and Germaine de Randamie. Since then, she has alternated between wins and losses and fight fans appeared to have moved on from “The Preacher’s Daughter.”
But on Saturday night in the co-main event of UFC 246, Holm (13-5) was dominant in picking apart Raquel Pennington for three rounds, winning a lopsided unanimous decision. When the two women weren’t clinching against the cage, Holm used her superb striking to win rather easily. Holm edged Pennington back at UFC 184 via split nod and the Albuquerque fighter wanted to be more impressive this time around.
“She’s scrappy everywhere, she’s got so much experience and can fight everywhere, so I didn’t want to look into the first fight too much,” Holm said after her win. “I definitely wanted to be more clear and dominant, and I feel like I did that. I feel like I dominated, but I just didn’t do enough damage, that’s what I want to do – damage.”
Holm persevered through a cornucopia of distractions during the camp and still won. She revealed at the post-fight press conference that her father suffered a stroke about three weeks ago, but she felt she had to go on with the fight.
“I never want to make any excuses, a lot happened this camp,” she said. “But my coaches are so amazing and always worked with me when I was available and we made it happen. I have a lot of people around me that are really loving and really supportive, plus everyone has something going on in their lives, this was a lot, but nothing I couldn’t handle.”
At 38, time is running out on Holm. She’s only lost to the best of the best in recent years and badly covets another chance at becoming a world champion again. Holm told the media that she feels great physically and emotionally and that if she can nab a key win or two this year, she should be right in line to challenge anyone for whichever title she desires.
“I think I need to show more of my abilities to get that title shot again,” she said. “I always want to have big knockouts, but I’m still learning and improving as a martial artist, so we’ll see where it goes.”