By all measurements one kick to the neck of Ronda Rousey does not a champion make. Yet the momentum is all with one woman in UFC and Holly Holm is now a force to be reckoned with. Her vicious takedown of the previously undefeated fighter turns the tables on the division and judging by events post Melbourne, Holm has the perfect platform to set the benchmark for a few years to come.
Whether it’s endorsing Floyd Mayweather as a legend of boxing or talking to Larry King, Holly Holm looks very comfortable in her new role as the Queen of UFC. Champions have been knocked down before but the challenge for the underdog is to embrace the role of top dog, using the hype and notoriety to take their standards to the next level.
Discussions of a rematch with Rousey already appear underway as the poster girl for the sport licks her wounds and ego to gear herself for a shot at redemption. If it does indeed go ahead, the event will be the ultimate benchmark for Holm to prove that her success was not a shot in the dark and she does have the staying power to reign supreme once again. It’s one thing for David to slay Goliath, it’s quite another to do it again knowing the threat she carries in the cage.
But climbing Mount Everest deserves a moment of reflection and celebration. Holm is ideally placed to soak up the adulation and plot her next move. At 34, in peak physical condition and coming off a crushing defeat of Rousey, who’s not to say she hasn’t already succeeded?
Here are the top 15 reasons why Holly Holm is the new face of UFC.
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15 Remaining Humble
All the best athletes need arrogance to be successful, it’s part and parcel of competing in a cutthroat environment. When the referee called time in the 2nd round, Holm was entitled to go as far with the chest thumping and fist bumping as she saw fit. With a host of celebrities lining her up for criticism, Holm took a different approach speaking with TMZ. “This fight wouldn’t have happened if she didn’t accomplish what she’s accomplished,” said Holm. “I think people can be pretty brutal and when she’s in the spot that she’s in that people are going to jump ship and I don’t ever wish for that.” Classy.
14 Bringing Over Boxing Fans
There is no question boxing fans were flicking over in their thousands to take a glimpse at one of their own taking on Rousey in the ring. Various outlets debated in the aftermath what it meant for a former boxer to take down someone with a superior background in overall martial arts experience and ironically enough it was her foot that made the decisive difference. Given the paucity of competition in boxing at the moment, who is to say more fans won’t be dragged across from the traditional fighting sport to the UFC?
13 Wears Heart On Sleeve
No one can doubt Holm’s sincerity when she speaks to the media. After her shock win over Rousey, tears were flowing from her face as the emotion started to overflow and it was one of the rare moments when a public figure loses the façade to show their true colors in front of the camera. It might not suit all fans of UFC but it’s great to see a fighter be vulnerable when viewers are usually served up with overhyped bravado and image control. Speaking of her small backroom team she said while holding back tears, “Their belief in me made me want to do it for them.” How can you not love that?
It’s the sad double standard that continues to remain because no male UFC champion would be expected to present themselves the way the females do. Fortunately for Holm her good looks means that the menacing fighter can impress inside and outside the cage. From magazine cover shots, press conferences, interviews and photo opportunities, Holly Holm radiates in front of a lens. Superstars from all sports need to have this quality to translate across to the general public if they are to gain wider acceptance and no doubt Holm ticks this box.
11 Blonde’s Have More Fun
With a stunning resemblance to comedian Amy Schumer, Holly Holm wasn’t taking herself too seriously in the prefight warm up held in Melbourne’s Federation Square on the eve of the fight. Complete with a rendition of the sprinkler dance, selfies with fans and working out with a competition winner on stage, Holm couldn’t have been more of a contrast to Rousey. Ronda was all business, being put through her sparring paces by her trainer and giving a short and serious response to journalists. Whether it’s Holm’s personality shining through or soaking up the moment, Holly has shown a tenancy to enjoy her career more than her competitors.
10 Film Star
OK the upcoming 2016 movie Fight Valley won’t be winning any Academy awards anytime soon, but not many UFC fighters get credited in leading roles of films. The trailer appears to be 2 minutes of footage of a B-grade production featuring hot women in underwear beating the living hell out of each other, but we’ll have to wait and see what the complete product has in store.
9 Proven Across Weight Divisions
From light middleweight to welterweight, light welterweight then ultimately bantamweight, Holm has credit in the bank by transitioning through the weight divisions. At 5ft 8 and 34-years of age Holm has gradually matured emotionally and physically, outlining how the southpaw has gone from a raw light middleweight to a well-rounded bantam taking on the best in the business. Similar to boxing greats who shift through weight divisions, it’s an extra notch on the belt to prove yourself with the other players.
8 Getting Global Recognition
At the start of the Melbourne fight there was only one name on fans lips – Rousey. The locals saw Holm as nothing more than an admirable competitor who might be able to push Ronda further than the last few contests, but nothing more than that. The Preacher’s Daughter proved to be far more than Ronda fodder as the viewers down under changed their tune from “Holly who?” to “Hero Holly!” in a matter of minutes. That love spread across the UFC world and beyond as headlines rung out that a new champion had announced themself on the scene.
7 Rose For The Biggest Occasion
Whether it’s Dan Henderson vs. Mauricio Rua, Mayweather vs. Pacquiao or Ali against Fraser, great fighters are remembered for their great fights. It doesn’t get any simpler than that, as Holm stood the ferocity of the 55,000 crowd packed under the Melbourne dome understanding that the contest would be career defining. More talented fighters in MMA and boxing have come and gone without being able to handle the pressure and expectation, but Holm stood above the fray to deliver her best when she most needed it.
6 Fighter For The People
Fans back in her hometown of Albuquerque couldn’t contain themselves on the night, hugging friends and strangers when the knockout blow was delivered before Holm dropped to her knees in ecstasy. While those supporters were obviously biased, many other casual and hardcore UFC fans were equally jumping for joy for this understated athlete who conquered the ultimate challenge put before her on a world stage. She will never reach the heights of Manny Pacquiao to drag an entire nation behind them, but it is fair to conclude that Holm is more of the people’s champion than Rousey ever was.
5 Engages With Other Sports
For what it’s worth, Holly is a life long Denver Broncos fan. Speaking on The Rich Eisen Show, she explained, “(I) Always loved the Denver Broncos my whole life.” When pressed on her favorite player she replied, “Elway. I actually got to see his last regular-season game. His last season before they got to the Super Bowl.” In a far more controversial admission, she endorsed Floyd Mayweather as the greatest fighter of all time. Whether you agree or disagree with her Mayweather and Broncos loyalties, Holm fits into the sports paradigm perfectly.
4 Symbol For Late Bloomers
It’s the overnight success story almost two decades in the making. In 2001 Holm started her journey in the world of amateur kickboxing before transitioning to boxing. Once she avenged her loss to Anne Sophie Mathis in 2012, she decided on taking things up a level to start all over again in the MMA. And the rest, as they say, is history. Only now are people learning the story of this fascinating 34-year old woman who fought tooth and nail for every inch across various disciplines always looking to learn and improve on the talents she was born with.
3 Wasn’t Fazed By Rousey Taunts
The footage speaks for itself. Amongst all the prefight taunts bigging up her own status in the sport and how she was going to destroy Holm in the ring, the underdog challenger kept a calm and relaxed exterior while speaking glowingly of her opponent. That respect was not reciprocated on fight night in Melbourne as Rousey refused to touch gloves, showing the ultimate amount of disrespect a fighter can possibly show. Many will argue that it’s just an aggressive move and demonstrated Rousey’s focus, but of all the physicality and brutality inside the cage fighters are always expected to at least acknowledge their opponent before engaging in battle. When it was over, Holm came out the hero and all the better for it.
2 Focused On Conquering UFC
When Holm was asked when she would want to fight next she responded, “as soon as possible.” Her eagerness to jump back into the lion’s den against Rousey doesn’t come from arrogance or ego, but an acknowledgement that she herself fought back from defeats in boxing to claim back titles she had lost. Fearing no opponent and tackling every fight as an opportunity is the perfect place to be mentally.
1 Toppled The Current Face Of UFC
To be the best you have to beat the best. In many people’s eyes Ronda Rousey remains the face of the sport because she has far more credits in the bank. For various reasons Rousey was the first to transcend the sport of UFC, opening up many opportunities it never had before because of her star power. Then along came Holly. During her Rich Eisen interview she took particular pride not only at the fact she won, but did so in such a convincing manner. “I don’t have a big ego about myself or my career, but I do have certain prides and that is one thing that I’m proud of is that I dominated the fight. It wasn’t just a lucky punch.”
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