If former UFC Bantamweight Champion Holly Holm retired today, she would have one of the most accomplished combat sports careers ever. She was considered one of the best female boxers of all time in the early 2000’s, holding 16 title defenses in the sport across three different weight classes.
But despite her achievements in boxing and kickboxing up to this point, Holm ended up finding the most success in mixed martial arts. She brought her talents to the MMA world in 2011, and won her professional debut easily by a total knockout. Her dominance in the sport continued through the years, improving her record to 9-0 by 2015 and setting up her first UFC title fight against worldwide phenomenon Ronda Rousey.
Rousey’s streak of finishes and immense hype led most to count Holm out leading up to their fight, even with her undefeated record. But on that November night in 2015, Holm proved the world wrong.
Holm dominated Rousey with her superior striking, knocking her out with a vicious head kick early in Round 2. Her iconic knockout victory took the world by storm, and propelled Holm to superstardom in what is still considered one of the biggest upsets in UFC history.
Fast forward to five years later, and Holm is still proving that she is evolving as a mixed martial artist. The nearly 40-year old former champion headlined a UFC Fight Night on October 4, 2020, where she had perhaps her best performance yet against surging bantamweight contender Irene Aldana.
In fact, Holm showed some completely new facets to her game against her younger opponent, mixing in takedowns and ground work that was rarely seen from her fights in the past. This took Aldana by surprise, too, as Holm handily defeated her in each of the fight’s five rounds.
It’s rare to see a mixed martial artist continue to grow and improve so late into their combat sports career. In her post-fight interview that evening, Holm attributed her continuous improvement to her commitment to the sport and willingness to still learn new skills in the octagon.
“When I came over to MMA, I didn’t come to be a boxer in an MMA cage.” Holm explained. “I came to be a mixed martial artist. And it has taken time… I’m still very green and learning. I just want to put it all together.”
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