The UFC and Ronda Rousey surprised everyone this morning by announcing that former women’s boxing champ Holly Holm would be the next to face “Rowdy” on January 2, not Miesha Tate as originally planned. No reason was given for the sudden switch, but perhaps Ronda lost interest in a third fight with Tate and was looking for someone with a more interesting resume to add to her collection of victims.
And what a resume Holly Holm has! She is a decorated martial artist who has been competing professionally as a boxer, kickboxer, and Muay Thai fighter since 2002. As a boxer, she compiled a 33-2-3 record and was an 18-time champion across three weight divisions before making the switch to mixed martial arts. And she trains with many of the best athletes in the UFC at Greg Jackson and Mike Winkeljohn’s gym in Albuquerque, N.M.
Since entering MMA in 2011, Holm has racked up a perfect 9-0 streak that I’m sure Ronda Rousey is excited to break. And of her seven fights outside the UFC, six came by way of violent stoppage. Many expected Holm to be a one-dimensional boxer due to her extensive background in that sport, but it turned out that Holly was just as deadly with her kicks. She punishes her opponents with an endless variety of switch kicks, teeps, spinning back kicks, and more.
One area of criticism you’ll be hearing a lot from folks leading up to her fight with Ronda Rousey is her “lackluster” performances in the Octagon since joining the UFC. Holm arrived in the promotion in February of 2015 and has had two fights — both of which she was expected to win easily. Instead, they resulted in a tentative split decision win over Raquel Pennington and a unanimous decision over Marion Reneau. While the Reneau win was dominating, Holm’s inability to finish against the UFC’s major league competition has many questioning the hype she arrived in the promotion with.
And now she’s set to face Ronda Rousey, whose only finishing problem is that she finishes fights too quickly. On paper, Holly Holm has the credentials to deserve a title shot and challenge the champion. But those who have followed the women’s division since it started know her style matches up poorly against Rousey, and she’s likely to be another quick finish for the Rowdy one.
But that’s what experts would say about everyone except Cris Cyborg nowadays. There isn’t a potential challenger that isn’t facing a near-impossible uphill battle going against the current champ. Holm may not have much of a chance, but it’s about the same chance Miesha Tate had, and more of a chance than Bethe Correia ever had. And, as a dedicated professional athlete with one of the greatest teams of coaches behind her, she just may have a few surprises for Rousey.
That’s about all we can ask for right now — other than that Cyborg fight. But because that’s not on the table right now, Holm is a legitimate next opponent for Ronda. The two will scrap on January 2 at UFC 195 in Las Vegas.