Fight fans live for stunning moments. Whether it’s an out-of-nowhere knockout or a back-and-forth war, everyone remembers those memorable touchstones. Holly Holm is no stranger to this fact.
She gave the women’s mixed martial arts world its first of such moments when her devastating head kick ended Ronda Rousey’s undefeated reign at UFC 193, and she’s looking to do the same thing at UFC 239 when she takes on double-champion Amanda Nunes.
It’s not unfamiliar territory for Holm, who also held the bantamweight belt after knocking out Rousey, but that was a long four years ago. Since that signature win, Holm is 2-4, her last fight a unanimous decision win over Megan Anderson in the Australian’s promotional debut at UFC 225.
On the other hand, Nunes is undefeated in her last eight fights, including wins over each of the fighters who beat Holm. That said, Holm doesn’t subscribe to the transitive property when it comes to fighting.
“I always say two different fighters always make a different fight,” she said. “You can never look at a fight and say, ‘Well, so-and-so beat this person, and I beat that person, so I should win.’ It’s never like that because styles make different fights.”
Given the two styles that’ll be on display, it’s almost a sure bet to showcase the best striking the division offers. Nunes’ power is reaching legendary status, but Holm believes her precise and diverse attack is enough to make the difference.
“We both have skill, and we both have that kind of grit and that grind,” she said. “With that, you’re going to get a tough fight. My plan is just to make it cleaner, better and walk away with the belt.”
Holm’s path back to a title belt around her waist has its share of near-misses.
Her bantamweight title defense against Miesha Tate was going well until it wasn’t, and it ended with Holm unconscious via rear naked choke.
Then came her featherweight title shot against Germaine de Randamie at UFC 208, and that unanimous decision loss came with its share of controversy after de Randamie struck Holm after the horn sounded to end rounds two and three.
In her most recent title shot against Cris Cyborg, once again for the 145-lbs. strap, she did what few thought possible and went all 25 minutes with the former featherweight queen, but her only victory was a moral one, and she once again left the Octagon empty-handed.
The fact Holm earned a fourth title shot despite winning just two of her last six fights speaks to her reputation and the respect earned over the course of her career. With that in mind, she wants to finally cash in on her chance to regain the belt.
“A lot of people were trying to gun for the title shot,” Holm said. “They’re trying to fight for that title, and I have the opportunity right in front of me, so I just want to make the most of it. I don’t want it to pass me by and not make the most of it. I want to walk away with the win.”
If she is victorious, it’ll make for another signature moment: another win over a fighter who seems invincible – this time the first champ-champ in women’s UFC history. Maybe that puts her among the best to ever do it. Maybe she just turns out to have a knack for upsets. Maybe she falls short once again. The thing is, with Holly holm, all these outcomes feel equally likely.
“We’ll see what happens,” she said. “It’s the unknown. That’s why people love to watch this sport.”
Zac Pacleb is a writer and producer for UFC.com. You can follow him on Twitter @ZacPacleb.