Holly Holm is just taking it all in
Holly Holm is a week removed from her historic victory over Ronda Rousey yet the emotion lingers.
A reporter reminded her that she is one of precious few fighters – male or female, mixed martial artist or boxer – who, in a single fight, made the impact she did by knocking out a woman more and more people believed was invincible.
Holm giggled nervously and then really didn’t know where to go from there.
“I mean ÔÇª it’s just that ÔÇª I don’t know. I just think about it and cry,” she said before pausing to gather herself.
That doesn’t mean the former boxer was surprised she won. To the contrary, she never allowed herself to buy into the Rousey hype.
Holm, 34 and veteran of hundreds of fights of one kind or another, fully believed she had the ability and game plan to take down Rousey and did exactly that – stopping her in the second round – in UFC 193 to win the bantamweight title last Saturday in Melbourne, Australia.
“I guess put it this way,” said Holm, who was speaking on the phone to reporters for RingTV.com and the Los Angeles Times. “Somebody came up to me while I was training for the fight and said, ‘Holly, this is crazy. Have you thought about what’s happening? You’re going to fight Ronda Rousey.’ I said, ‘No, I’m fighting just Ronda. She’s another fighter, she’s beatable.’ ÔÇª
“I didn’t want to put it in terms that I was fighting this invincible fighter because you’re putting that in your head. I was fighting someone who is beatable because everybody is beatable.”
Holm proved that emphatically in the fight, dominating Rousey from the outset with crisp, hard punches that made her boxing fans proud and finishing with a kick to the face that put an oh-so-dramatic exclamation point on an unforgettable event.
The fight went just as she and her team had planned.
“Not every fight does that,” she said. “You can train like crazy and have a plan and think the fight will be a certain way but a lot of times you have to make adjustments along the way. ÔÇª In this fight everything we planned for in training, everything we did with the game plan wound up panning out in the fight. Everything we thought would happen happened.
“I can’t tell you how many hours I spent in the gym for this fight. Ronda isn’t a one-dimensional fighter. You can’t just think, ‘I’ll be fine if I’m not in an arm bar.’ You have to think of her judo game. She has knockout power. She knocked out two opponents with overhand rights and a knee to the body. You have to watch out for the big punch she wanted to land.
“You still have to watch out for the clinch because of her judo game. You have to watch out for being pushed into the cage. You have to watch out for the arm bar. She can grab them from anywhere. Each practice we focused on maybe one aspect of the fight game and it wound up panning out in the fight.”
Two things that stand out in a 15-minute conversation with Holm are her humility and compassion.
She is truly grateful for the accolades that have come her way in the wake of her monumental upset. She boxed successfully for more than a decade but never received significant validation outside of her hometown of Albuquerque, New Mexico.
At the same time, she is careful not to gloat and goes out of her way to show her conquered opponent respect.
“Things have been crazy ÔÇª they’ve been awesome,” she said, before needing to pause one more time. “ÔÇª All the attention and media, people want a piece of this or an answer to the question, ‘How did it happen?’ I don’t know. Things are so crazy, almost unexplainable. It’s hard for me to explain how it feels. I just really want to take it all in, not look past it. I don’t want to look back later in life and go, ‘Wow, I can’t believe that happened. I let it pass by and didn’t’ take everything in while it was going on.’ ÔÇª
“I’m excited to see what doors this opens for me now. And one thing I’m really focusing on is I want to perform after this, you know. Now there are expectations. My dad always said people are afraid of failure. I think more people are afraid of success. After a win like this people are going to expect great things. My job is to keep wanting to better myself as well but along the way not take it too seriously and enjoy the excitement of it and I really am.
“I mean I got to meet Jamie Foxx. I got to go to a Clippers (NBA) game with him. I got to meet (Floyd) Mayweather. That never would’ve happened before this. What an honor. ÔÇª (Mayweather) said, “Hey good job. Keep that up. I’m proud.”
Rousey has been silent the past week except for an Instagram post. Holm was asked whether the former champ owes the public a statement.
“I don’t think she owes anybody anything,” she said. “She deserves some peace and quiet now. She has been a dominant champion for a reason. She has put her heart and soul in it and she’s passionate. This loss is devastating. I’ve been on the other end of it before.
“It’s only been a week. Trust me, I’m glad I beat her. That’s what I wanted to do. But I respect everybody and I appreciate what she’s done for the sport. I couldn’t say I have this great win if she wasn’t a dominant champion. You can’t have one without the other. So I appreciate Ronda.
“ÔÇª And she has every right to think about and evaluate where she wants to go from here. Maybe she wants time off before a rematch, maybe she wants to get in there right away. Maybe she’s trying to figure out exactly what she wants.”
“Obviously anybody would think that’s the next step,” Holm said. “The UFC is even playing with the idea. It’s the logical thing to do. Nothing is set in stone, though. I’m perfectly open to a rematch. She gave me a chance to fight for the belt; I’ll give her a chance to avenge the loss.
“And I know if we do a rematch, she’ll come back 10 times harder and I need to be ready for it. So I’ll train twice as hard.”