Holly Holm: Restarting at 135lbs

With one very violent high kick, Holly Holm’s life changed in November 2015. Shocking of the sport’s world by knocking out the dominant champion Ronda Rousey, Holm was now the UFC’s Bantamweight queen. In fairness, that high kick was proceeded by a range of masterful striking techniques that left Rousey flustered and rocked but to the masses that didn't matter. Instead it was just that one moment, that single strike that was replayed repeatedly on every medium imaginable. Over a decade after her first pro boxing match, ‘The Preacher’s Daughter’s gradual rise to fame had suddenly accelerated dramatically and the world was seemingly now at her feet. Holm had been a respected martial artist and prize-fighter for years but now she was a superstar.

She had vehemently dethroned one of the world’s most famous female athletes and all in startlingly dominant fashion. A seemingly inevitable blockbuster rematch with Rousey was now on the cards and that dynamic immediately created immense intrigue amongst fans. The previously untouchable Rousey had been bloodied, battered and brutalized and the focus now shifted to her return and more specifically, if she could avenge such a harrowing defeat? The only issue though was that the date of Rousey’s return was unclear and that just didn't work for Holm. The new champion wanted to defend her belt and much to Dana White’s dismay, she did just that, opting to fight long-time contender Miesha Tate less than four months after she won her title.

The fight was a risky one due to Tate’s undeniable credibility at the elite level but it marked a good opportunity for ‘The Preacher’s Daughter’ to solidify her spot at the top of the division. As great as Holm had performed opposite Rousey, some still had their doubts due to the less impressive showings that had come before the breakout win. Holm’s other UFC wins over Raquel Pennington and Marion Reneau didn't exactly capture the public’s imagination and that was one of the reasons why she found herself as such a huge underdog against Rousey. In many ways though that high kick served as an eraser for most and now as champion, Holm had the reputation of a destroyer.

Holm’s bout with Tate fight would prove to be a memorable one as ‘Cupcake’s grappling caused the champion major issues in the second round. For the most part though, Holm dictated the action using smart striking at range. That was only until the fight’s dramatic climax though as with just two minutes remaining in the whole fight, Tate secured one more takedown before taking Holm’s back and choking her unconscious. Just as Holm had claimed the title in an instant, it had left her grip in similarly sudden fashion. Only months after becoming a superstar and champion, Holm had already lost her title and for whatever reason, an expected rematch with Tate wouldn't materialize.

Instead Tate would unsuccessfully defend her belt against the then unheralded Amanda Nunes and two weeks later, Holm would look to secure another shot at gold as she took on fellow striking standout Valentina Shevchenko. Though she entered as favorite, Holm would struggle to consistently score and spent much of the frustrating five rounds being out-landed due to Shevchenko’s immense counter punching skills. After 25 competitive minutes, Shevchenko came out the close but clear winner and suddenly, Holm found herself riding a two fight losing streak. Less than a year after her career seemed certain to thrive, her momentum how now come to a screeching halt.

It wouldn't be until February in the following year that we next saw Holm inside the octagon as a huge opportunity arose. Fighting Germaine De Randamie for the inaugural UFC Featherweight title, the fight marked the chance for a new start up at 145lbs but on fight night, that wouldn't come to fruition. It was a back and forth bout that came with some major controversy due to two occasions in which De Randamie landed shots after the round’s end. These strikes seemingly impacted Holm at times but she still had moments of genuine success, enough to convince many that she deserved the nod on the judges’ scorecards. The three people that mattered most disagreed though and all elected De Randamie the victor.

This Saturday night, Holm returns to take on Bethe Correia in another main event as she likely fights to save her career at the top level. Just over eighteen months after claiming the Bantamweight throne, Holm now returns to 135lbs on the back of three straight losses. Fortunately, Holm’s popularity and past achievements mean that she’s still very much in the picture and with Nunes as champion, ‘The Preacher’s Daughter’ definitely isn’t far away from another title shot. Holm’s chances of securing that opportunity very much hinge on Saturday’s result though. Now more than ever a win over Correia is simply imperative and as Holm’s own past has shown, a single moment can drastically alter a career one way or the other. One of those moments could very well be awaiting Holm this Saturday in Singapore.

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