The UFC’s former women’s bantamweight champion Holly Holm has spoken about her former opponent Ronda Rousey’s mindset in the lead-up to her short-lived UFC 207 comeback fight against Amanda Nunes.
Holly Holm’s name is one that will forever be relevant in the sport of MMA for several reasons but perhaps none more so than due to the thunderous head-kick she unloaded on the legendary Ronda Rousey at UFC 193 in 2015.
Rousey came into that bout boasting a perfect 12-0 record, a 100% finishing rate and some of the most clinical, high-level judo to have ever been displayed inside the octagon. When the UFC booked Holly Holm as Ronda’s seventh title defence, few gave her any chance at dethroning the dominant armbar-specialist. Holm, at that point, was regarded as one of the most decorated and accomplished strikers in the division but faced a monumental task in going toe-to-toe with the woman many had considered to be unbeatable.
And yet, when the octagon doors closed that night, it took “the Preacher’s Daughter” just under two rounds to shock the world by landing a stunning head-kick, capping off a performance in which she completely outclassed the Rowdy One in every single facet of the fight.
Rousey, in the wake of this defeat, chose to shun all media obligations and completely remove herself from the public eye for an entire year. For many, this was the first of many red flags that were evident in the way she handled herself after her first loss. In combat sports, a lot of credit is given to those who show the character and level-headedness needed to be gracious and mature in defeat but in Ronda, she showed nothing close to the type of strength needed to face this adversity head on.
Now, in a post-UFC 208 interview with MMAFighting (via their sister-site BloodyElbow) Holm gave us her own insight into Rousey’s mental preparation for UFC 207 and how her failures in that area contributed to her 48-second TKO loss to the current-champion, Amanda Nunes.
“Honestly, I was a little worried about her mental game getting in there. I know a lot of people said no media, no MMA media, because she doesn’t want any distractions. Well, I’m probably one of the number 1 people that [really] hates to do all of it, but guess what? That’s what comes with a fight, and if I didn’t do it, I don’t think I’d even be ready for the fight.
“If you can’t even talk about it, if you can’t even be doing the normal thing leading up, I don’t think you’re really ready to get in there and actually fight. You have to be able to kind of face it.”
In Holm’s aforementioned bout with Rousey in 2015, many pointed to the then-champ’s inability to react properly when taking damage as a key factor in the fight. It did seem as though no matter how much punishment it was that she was taking, she still made every attempt to press forward, despite facing the far more accomplished striker.
In continuing on from there, Holm put forth the idea that a lot was riding on the first few exchanges of the Nunes fight, and how she wasn’t surprised when it all seemed to fall apart at the first sign of danger for the former-Olympian.
“I figured that it would depend on what the first exchange would be and how Ronda would react to it. If she would get hit and kind of freeze and think ‘oh no not again’ or get hit and think ‘oh no not today’. I think that’s a make or break moment, so as soon as those first punches landed and I saw that I thought ‘well okay, it’s going to go.”
Holm will face off against decorated kickboxer Germaine de Randamie at UFC 208 for the inaugural women’s featherweight championship, which will take place on February 11th in Brooklyn.
Cillian Cunningham, Pundit Arena