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Holm on the Range

Even before signing with the UFC, Holly Holm was pegged as a potential challenger for women's bantamweight champion Ronda Rousey.

Even before signing with the UFC, Holly Holm was pegged as a potential challenger for women's bantamweight champion Ronda Rousey.

Upon making her mixed martial arts debut in early 2011, the former boxing champ and amateur kickboxing titleholder quickly established herself as one of the hottest prospects outside the UFC. With her elite striking on full display, Holm has netted an impressive 7-0 record, which includes six knockout wins to her credit.

As a result, it wasn't long before fight fans began clamouring for Holm to lock horns with another elite finisher in Rousey, who has picked up stoppage victories in all 10 of her professional MMA bouts.

Now that Holm has finally inked a deal with the UFC, the two could cross paths in the near future.

Though Holm admitted having her name mentioned alongside Rousey adds heightened expectations to her upcoming UFC debut, she's more than happy to live up to the hype.

“It does get me more fired up,” Holm said. “As far as people talking about that fight with Ronda before I'm even signed with the UFC, it doesn't bother me. It flatters me. I'm glad people see that as a potential (fight). If I wasn't anybody to watch or fear, then nobody would say anything about it.

“I know there's been a lot of talk around it. I wish I had a dollar for every time somebody said, 'So, when are you going to fight Ronda Rousey?' I'd be really rich right now. But if they weren't asking that, then I guess I wouldn't be in a spot where that could be an opportunity.”

Of course, just because Holm had been previously plying her trade outside the UFC, doesn't mean she hasn't been sizing up Rousey's game.

The way Holm sees it, not only has the UFC women's bantamweight champion been continually evolving as a fighter, she also carries an aura that has caused some of her opponents to shutdown inside the cage.

With almost 40 pro boxing bouts under her belt, Holm said she won't crumble if given a crack at Rousey.

“Even in the beginning, when people would say all she does is armbars, I would tell them she's a tough girl,” Holm began. “Say somebody can knock people out with this awesome uppercut. Of course they're always going to throw the uppercut. So of course she was going to do what worked for her with the armbars. She could make it happen easily. But I feel like people are now starting to see she's evolving as a well-rounded fighter. I don't think anybody's going to be able to beat that 16-second knockout (against Alexis Davis this month) — and that was on her feet. You can't look at that and not be impressed.

“I'm not sure how a lot of these other girls are, but sometimes I feel like people can walk in, they look across the cage at her and think, 'Man, can I really beat her? I mean, I'll give it a shot, but can I really do it?' I'm a firm believer that you have to believe in yourself. If you walk in with that doubt in your mind, you're not going to win. I think sometimes a lot of these girls are so intimidated by Ronda and all the hype around the fight that they don't even get to show their full potential and what they could have done in those fights.”

Though Holm has her sight set on challenging Rousey for the belt, she still has to prove herself against elite MMA competition.

UFC president Dana White recently stated the Albuquerque, NM native will not receive an immediate title shot. Holm is also still on the mend following a broken arm suffered during an April TKO victory over Juliana Werner under the Legacy Fighting Championship banner.

Holm admitted she prefers to get her feet wet in the Octagon prior to facing Rousey.

“I would like to have a fight before that, especially coming off of an injury,” Holm said. “But then again, I've always said every fighter is a threat. Who's to say one won't pose a threat in a different way? As soon as they tell me who I'm fighting, I'll be focused on it and make a game plan for that fight. But I would like to have another fight before fighting for the title.”

Before she can begin preparing for an opponent, Holm needs to be cleared by her doctor. Though she is currently aiming for a November bout, nothing has been set in stone.

When she finally does get the call, Holm intends on adding more fuel to the title shot fire by securing a fight night bonus. However, she admitted she never wants to wins 'fight of the night' honours.

“I do feel like my team and coaches always come up with the best game plans,” Holm said. “Every matchup makes a difference and every style is different. To game plan for Ronda is very different than to game plan for all the other girls. One thing I've really tried to do with my career, and it's worked in boxing, is I've tried to listen to my coaches and follow the game plan.

“Whether it's a popular fight for the fans or not, I want it to be a dominating performance. When people say, 'This is going to be fight of the night,' I tell my coach all the time I never want fight of the night. I want knockout of the night, but I never want fight of the night. Fight of the night means I took too many shots. I want to dominate. I want to follow the game plan and try to pick apart the flaws of my opponent.”