Holly Holm knew she could do it. Most of the world felt she was set to be just another victim for Ronda Rousey at UFC 193, but Holm was dead set on proving she’d put in the work and prepared for what the long-reigning champ was bringing to Melbourne.
She accomplished just that, and with the shockwave from her head kick being felt across the world, Holm now sits as UFC Women’s Bantamweight Champion.
“I cannot put it into words,” Holm said in her first post-fight interview on ESPN’s Sportscenter. “All I know is inside I’m thinking is ‘ok, there’s still a lot to come.’ I don’t feel like I’m finished. There’s a lot to come from here. This is one good fight, and there’s so much more to prove.
The former boxing champion has now accomplished one of the biggest goals she had in entering MMA, and that’s to become the first to cross over to be a two-sport champion. She expressed her respect and gratitude to Rousey and those who helped pave the way for Saturday night, and reflected on how crazy it felt to finally get that job done.
“One of the things that was something so much on my heart and in my passion is that I wanted to be the first person male or female to cross over and be a champion in both sports. It hasn’t sunk in yet, but it’s here,” she commented. “It’s just surreal.
“…I’m probably going to be up all night replaying that [fight] in my head, trying to make myself believe it. I have a lot of respect for her, and like I said, I wouldn’t be here and have this opportunity if it wasn’t for what she’s done in the sport, and I 100% do have a lot of respect for her. There’s a lot of female fighters even before her that have paved the way, and all that has built up to this. She was definitely one of the biggest ones to kind of make a splash. I’m thankful for everybody before me, because I wouldn’t have this opportunity [otherwise].
A rematch is almost assuredly going to be in the cards given how long Rousey reigned on top, and Holm – who has been on the wrong end of a brutal finish during her boxing career – is more than happy to run it out a second time.
“Absolutely [I’ll give her a rematch],” Holm said. “I had a devastating knockout, and I came back and won. I’m glad I had that rematch, and I think that anybody that does come out with a victory, should give that rematch. That’s just how the sport goes, and people are going to want to see it. It’ll be a totally different fight the second time around, but I’m ready for it.”
Penick’s Analysis: I’ll be curious to see just what the UFC does with Holm and Rousey. The rematch is sensible, and likely to be another massive draw with Rousey on the comeback. However, if Rousey’s not going to be back until next summer, Holm may be willing to fight someone else to defend that title. Now, that would be risking the rematch should Holm get upended by someone else, and despite how great she looked on Saturday night, she’s already shown herself to be not quite as dominant against different stylistic matchups. Still, she should be riding high for a while off of what she did on Saturday night, and she and the UFC will figure out what’s next when the time comes to have that discussion.