Following her heartbreaking loss to Amanda Nunes at the co-main event at UFC 239, Dana White hinted that Holly Holm’s days in the UFC could soon be coming to an end, and the acclaimed fighter may soon find herself planning her next chapter.
Holm has become one of the biggest names in the UFC, and her story is one of hard work, toughness, and an unwillingness to give up. But as the 37-year-old moves into the down end of her career, it’s time to remember what got her there.
“The Preacher’s Daughter”
In a slightly ironic move, Holly Holm branded herself as the daughter of a preacher early on. Her humble demeanor served as a stark contrast to her hard-hitting moves in the octagon.
The bantamweight fighter first made her name in smaller fights at Bellator and the LFC before quickly making a name for herself in the UFC. After two successful undercards against Marion Reneau, she found herself against a scary opponent in Ronda Rousey.
The Rousey Fight
Ronda Rousey’s legacy in the UFC was one of dominance. She quickly rose as the face of female fighters in the UFC thanks to her quick knockouts and her signature arm-bar.
Because of this, many assumed that Rousey would remain undefeated for many years. However, Holm came into the ring and quickly put an end to that with a swift kick to the head that sent Rousey’s head to the canvas. Rousey never recovered, losing her next fight before calling it quits from the UFC. Holm was the new champion.
A Rocky Road
Holm’s joy was short-lived, however. She would go on to lose her next three fights, finally beating Bethe Correia over 18-months after her win against Rousey.
That too would be short-lived, as she would lose her next fight to superstar fighter Cris Cyborg before garnering another win over Megan Anderson. Her fight against Amanda Nunes, however, could be the last time we see Holm in the octagon.
Nunes/Holm was in many ways a symbolic fight for UFC. It was, after all, a matchup between the two women who were most responsible for ending Ronda Rousey’s career, and the fight was heavily marketed as a clash between two titans. The fight proved to be an unspectacular one, however, as Nunes would knock Holm out before the first round was even over.
Because of the win, Nunes now holds the title in both the Bantamweight division and the Lightweight division. So if Holm did decide to come back, a rematch would be the likely outcome.
At her age, Holm has had an impressive career, a signature upset, and still has nothing to be ashamed of, but it is easier for observers to call for an athlete to quit than it is for the athlete to actually do so.
What’s next for Holly Holm?
If Holly Holm were to retire, there could be other options for her. Several retired fighters have found success in other venues both inside MMA circuits and on the outside. She has dabbled in film, starring in the 2016 fighting movie Fight Valley. It is a common path for fighters. She could also, possibly, move back to Bellator, who has made a brand of purging past-their-prime UFC talent.
Whatever Holm does, her career will always be remembered, even if it didn’t end the way she would have preferred. To become a recognizable name in any sport comes with a certain prestige, and Holm is no exception.
As her career winds down, it is important to commend her for all she brought the sport and hope that whatever comes next, it will be the right choice for her.