The Hollywood answer to the question “when did you know you had the fight won?” would be “when I signed the contract.”
That’s just not Holly Holm’s style. But it was fairly early on in her UFC 193 bout against Ronda Rousey that “The Preacher’s Daughter” knew that she was on the right track to upsetting the unbeaten Californian and shocking the world.
“After I was landing a few good straight lefts, I knew that I had it if I didn’t lose focus,” Holm said Tuesday while in New York for the latest stop in an exhausting media tour that she has handled like a champion. “Anything can happen in there, and I didn’t want to let down my guard, thinking that this is going to be an easy task, because there’s no way that would be an easy task to take down Ronda Rousey. So I did feel confident in being able to time her, and I just needed to make sure to stay focused and not put my guard down at any time. I thought if there’s a good opening, just take it, and there wound up being the opening, so I went for it.”
That opening produced a flush kick to the head that sent Rousey down and out and crowned Holm the new UFC women’s bantamweight champion at 59 seconds of the second round. The November 15 win was Holm’s tenth as a mixed martial artist and kicked off a whirlwind series of trips to meet major media outlets from coast to coast.
More from Holly Holm's Media Tour: Holly on ESPN's SportsCenter | Holly on LIVE with Kelly and Michael | Showing off skills on Kelly and Michael | 'The Talk' | 'The Herd' with Colin Cowherd | ESPN First Take | Extratv with Mario Lopez | Late Night with Seth Meyers | ENews | Dan Patrick Show | FOX 11 LA | KRQE | Watch UFC 193: The Thrill & Agony
From the time she left Melbourne, Australia, the site of the bout, to today, Holm has been home in Albuquerque a grand total of 20 hours, but she is enjoying every minute of her new celebrity.
“I just love the win, and all this stuff is awesome to experience, but it’s a reminder of the win and that’s what I’m enjoying about this moment, that everything I’m doing is just a little reminder that it’s because of the victory,” she said. “It’s been awesome.”
It’s also long overdue. To those meeting Holm and hearing her story for the first time, it could appear that she fell out of the sky and into the Octagon a couple weeks ago to fight Rousey. That’s not the case. For years, she was the pound-for-pound queen of boxing, a multi-division world champion whose career in the ring earned her a spot on the top ten all-time list in the “Bible of Boxing,” Ring magazine. Yet when Rousey appeared on the cover of the magazine’s January 2016 issue, there was a revolt among boxing fans. Holm’s victory appeared to be an “I told you so,” but not to the always classy 34-year-old, who never begrudged Rousey the cover, choosing instead to appreciate the two times she was named the magazine’s female fighter of the year.
“Just knowing that I had that, I take pride in that,” she said. “For me, I’d rather have the words than the picture on the cover. I’m not saying it’s not an honor to be on the front of it, but I like that I got fighter of the year because of my accomplishments.”
Yet while she won’t say it, those who follow both sports are well aware that this kind of mainstream recognition that Holm is receiving in MMA should have been hers years ago in boxing. It doesn’t matter now though, because in the present, Holly Holm is a star, and that’s all that matters. So is it safe to assume that beating Rousey was the biggest moment of her fighting career?
“There were moments before,” Holm said. “It was a big moment to beat Christy Martin when I only had 13 fights. I was still a baby fighting back then. So I guess it just depends on the time, because that was a moment that helped prepare me for this one. I feel that this moment is at its highest because she has been more dominant than Christy was with her opponents. And that was with Ronda fighting a lot of the top fighters. She has this big judo background, tons of tournaments, an Olympic medal, and she’s been running through everybody. So I feel like the reason this might be a little bigger for me is that she was more dominant, yet I dominated her. So I have to say this is the biggest moment so far. I’m not finished with my career, so we’ll see what happens.”
Oh yeah, Holm is far from finished. There is the business of a possible and probable rematch with Rousey in 2016, and plenty of contenders waiting for their crack at the new queen. At least the next time she fights, she won’t be the underdog, but that’s never been an issue Holm concerned herself with.
More from UFC 193: Missed history? Order UFC 193 replay | Post-fight bonuses | A new future awaits Ronda Rousey after loss | Holm becomes new champion of the world | How Holm shocked the world | Jedrzejczyk goes distance for win | Hunt finishes job in rematch with Silva | Aussies win big in prelims | Early prelims had it all | UFC 193 results | Blog: UFC 193 as it happened | Best pictures from UFC 193 fight night
“I want to win regardless,” she said. “Sometimes when you’re a favorite, it’s like ‘oh crap, now everybody thinks I should run through this person,’ and you have everything to lose. It doesn’t really matter the way you look at it; there’s going to be nerves behind it no matter what.”
Even in a fight against comedian Amy Schumer?
“That would be fun,” Holm laughs. “We could go with Amy Schumer for sure.”
Thomas Gerbasi is the editorial director of UFC.com, has covered the sport since 2000 and has authored the official UFC encyclopedia and UFC: A Visual History. Follow him on Twitter @tgerbasi