In the UFC 184 co-main event on Saturday, 18-time world boxing champion Holly Holm will make her Octagon debut in the women’s bantamweight division against The Ultimate Fighter 20 semifinalist Raquel Pennington.
Undefeated as a mixed martial artist, Holm (7-0) only lost twice in her 38-fight boxing career. Women’s boxing has peaked an occasional interest from the general public, but has waned over the last several years.
“I'm super blessed and super proud of everything that I got to experience in boxing. But it is sad that there isn’t enough following behind it,” Holm recently said during a media conference call. “If you're a female boxer, you're in it truly because you just love it and I feel like there should be more following behind it.”
Her boxing achievements are hall-of-fame-worthy. And the same determination that brought Holm multiple boxing titles has been redirected toward her MMA aspirations.
“I feel like now that I am in MMA, my want to come to MMA was just the same as in boxing. I wanted to do it because I was passionate about it. I did boxing because of passion and now I'm doing MMA because of passion,” she said, “But it is amazing to see how much more attention and how much more following and support there is with women's MMA.”
Female boxing has failed to generate consistent popularity, but Holm believes women’s MMA has established itself in the combat sports market and is here to stay.
“I'm so happy to be a part of it (women’s MMA) while it is at a high, and I think it's going to stay there. I don't feel like it's going to have its ups and downs. I feel like women's boxing has had its ups and downs. I mean, they've had big fights on television before with women's boxing and you just don't really see it anymore. But it's had some times where it's been high,” said Holm.
“I feel like women's MMA is at a point now you almost can't ignore it, and I think that it's great. I think that’s what the athletes deserve. They work just as hard and train just as hard as the men,” she added.
“I think it's great that the recognition is out there and these women have skill. It's not just a catfight out there, and I think the more that people watch it, the more people are getting into it because they start to really see what these girls have.”
UFC 184 takes place at the Staples Center in Los Angeles on Feb. 18. Women’s bantamweight champion Ronda Rousey defends her title against top 135-pound contender Cat Zingano in the main event. It’s the first time in UFC history that women headline and co-headline an event.