Dana White seems prepared to bestow a pretty massive honour on Holly Holm if she can emerge the victor after facing the featherweight champion of the world Cris Cyborg at UFC 219.
The stakes have never been higher in a women’s MMA match-up in the eyes of the public but for Holly Holm, a win over her opponent at UFC 219 could well establish her in a category of her very own.
Cristiane ‘Cyborg’ Justino, who has stayed undefeated for over a decade, will offer Holm a test beyond anything she has ever faced before and with three wins by way of stoppage after three fights in the UFC, it’s not hard to see why people have her a heavy favourite going into this one.
Holm, however, brings skills to the table that few else in MMA can match, having once been a dominant professional boxer – a run that saw her defend her three titles on eighteen separate occasions. She was a pretty big name in the sport prior to making the switch too, with 33 wins, 2 losses and 3 draws and with such a long and consistently successful career inside the squared-circle, it’s no surprise that her transition to MMA has seen her achieve similarly great things.
Of course, her UFC 193 head-kick knockout of the longtime champion Ronda Rousey is one of the greatest and most iconic KO’s we’ve ever seen – something that elevated her status within the sport greatly, but according to UFC president Dana White – who spoke on a recent episode of The Herd, a win over the seemingly unbeatable Cyborg will take Holly Holm to another level entirely.
“This is the biggest fight of her career. This is the true test for Cris Cyborg. If you look at Holly Holm – 13-time world boxing champion, multiple time kickboxing champion, beat Ronda Rousey and won the UFC title. Now Holm is moving up to 145 pounds and she’s actually a real 145-pounder – she’s tall, she’s big, she’s thick.
“If Holly Holm wins this weekend, how can you argue that she’s not the greatest fighter of all time – female fighter?”
“For Cris Cyborg, to win this fight, obviously it’s a big fight for her. I think Holly Holm is her first real, true test. As far as the fight goes, Cyborg is a very aggressive fighter, knockout puncher, likes to move forward, aggressive and Holly Holm is a counterpuncher. She’s a great counterpuncher, and I actually expect this to be a great fight.”
To defy the odds and once again do the unthinkable would have to make Holly’s claim to being the greatest female combat sports athlete of all-time beyond any question. She would, of course, enter that exclusive group of UFC champions to have won a belt in two-weight classes (becoming the first female to do so to boot) and whether it’s MMA, boxing, muay-Thai or grappling of any description, who else can say that they have had such amazing success in two completely different sports?
It might be a tough task for ‘the Preacher’s Daughter’ but in truth, a win here could well immortalise her forever.
Cillian Cunningham, Pundit Arena