It comes as no surprise that Holly Holm was emotional in various interviews after her win over Ronda Rousey at Saturday’s UFC 193.
After all, Rousey is the biggest star in the entire sport, male or female, and she was a previously unbeaten wrecking machine of previously unseen proportions.
And Holly Holm ended all that with one, swift kick to the head.
So, when Holm broke down in various interviews after the fight, she became an endearing replacement to the icy persona Rousey had portrayed for years.
After the fight concluded, Holm answered questions in the bowels of Etihad Stadium in Melbourne. Emotions were running high, and Holm admitted she hadn't had much time to let the moment fully sink in.
“This fight was a lot for me, mentally,” Holm said. “I couldn’t tell you how many times I cried in the gym leading up to this fight. It’s a lot to take in. But those kind of fights are the ones that, a loss is that devastating, but a win is that sweet of a victory. It’s uncomfortable sometimes, but I just really like to take the chance and believe in myself.
“It’s hard to put yourself out there sometimes. I know a lot of people felt it was early. I didn’t expect the phone call to come this early, but I just look at it as: If you don’t take the opportunities that are in front of you, how do you expect to get anywhere?”
Holm says she visualized the fight-ending high kick landing, but never prepared for one specific outcome – Rousey was far too dangerous an opponent for that. She was also quick to remind everyone that Rousey didn’t just give her the fight.
Yes, Rousey uncharacteristically tried to exchange punches with Holm, but Holm also points out that Rousey had her in a clinch – something that would normally signal the end of the fight in years past – looking for a hip toss. And for a brief moment, Rousey managed to have her in the beginning of one of her signature arm bars. But Holm survived it all, and looked impressive in the process.
That isn’t to say Holm just automatically assumed she would beat the World’s Most Dominant Athlete.
“Absolutely,” said Holm when asked if she ever doubted herself leading up to the fight. “I don’t think you can prepare yourself if you’re not aware what can happen; she’s been the most dominant athlete. So yeah, there were days in the gym, I didn’t perform well, sat in my car, upset and I cried. And I thought, you know what, if I perform like that, that’s not going to get me a win. So, I need to come back tonight, and I need to perfect those things. I need to get better. So, yes, there are moments in your mind when you doubt yourself.”
Holm says she always like to say “if I win” rather than “when I win.” She thinks speaking in definitive is a recipe for disaster. She’d rather be open-minded about her possibilities rather than pumping herself up with potential delusions of grandeur.
Now, after winning the gold off Rousey in one of the biggest upsets in combat sports history, questions remain as to who’s next for the new UFC women’s bantamweight champ.
There have been rumblings of a potential Miesha Tate fight, but Tate is currently embroiled in a mini-beef with UFC brass. So, who knows if they’ll be handing out title shots to “Cupcake” anytime soon.
And yes, there is the always-looming shadow of Cristiane “Cyborg” Justino – who, up until Saturday, was the odds-on favorite to dethrone Rousey – but she isn’t even in the UFC right now. Justino fights for the UFC’s sister promotion, Invicta FC. Unfortunately for Justino, however, she is largely unrecognizable to the casual MMA fan, so an upcoming title shot seems highly unlikely.
It all inevitably leads us back to Ronda Rousey. The division was created for her, and she has taken the sport to an entirely new audience in her two short years as (former) champion.
Prior to Saturday’s knockout loss, Rousey’s last fight was in August against Bethe Correia. The fight was a drastic mismatch and the card, overall, was about as lackluster as it gets. Yet, on casual interest and incredible mainstream media hype, the fight between Correia and Rousey did one million buys on pay-per-view – a truly astonishing accomplishment.
The point here, being: No one is fighting Holly Holm next except Ronda Rousey.
Something Holm readily agrees with.
“I think a rematch makes sense for sure,” she said. “I’ve been on the losing side of a fight and I wanted the rematch, I wanted to avenge my loss. With a champion like Ronda – who has gone out of her way, above and beyond, to do great things – absolutely she deserves a rematch.
“I don’t look at this belt and think I’ve made it. I think I still have things that I need to do. I think a rematch, I think that’s kind of unspoken common sense to me.”
UFC 200 is set for July 2016 at the newly constructed MGM Arena in Las Vegas. And what better way to christen the new digs than with the biggest rematch in the history of the sport?
Is it summer yet?
- - - - - - -