LOS ANGELES — Holly Holm chose not to wait for Ronda Rousey, perhaps passing up a huge payday in what would have been a mega rematch. She was criticized for that, especially after Holm lost the UFC women’s bantamweight title to Miesha Tate at UFC 196 in March.
Belt or no belt, Holm said Monday at a UFC on FOX 20 media lunch that she has absolutely no regrets about her decision not to wait for Rousey.
“I 100 percent stand by it, because we’re still waiting for Ronda to come back,” Holm said. “And that was my point being. I told them, I said, ‘I will wait for the rematch with Ronda as long as we can promise that it will be by a certain time.'”
Holm knocked out Rousey, handing the über-popular female star her first career loss and winning the title at UFC 193 back in November. The UFC wanted her to wait for the Rousey rematch as her first title defense. Of course they did. The promoter obviously didn’t want to lose out on what would have been a massive rematch between the biggest name in the organization and the woman who KO’d her.
Instead, Holm chose to move on from Rousey, not knowing how long she would actually be out. Rousey has had other commitments in Hollywood this year. In March, Holm defended the belt against Miesha Tate and lost via fifth-round submission.
Now, Holm will try to get back in the title mix in a main event fight with Valentina Shevchenko at UFC on FOX 20 on Saturday in Chicago. Meanwhile, the belt continues to get shuffled around. Amanda Nunes defeated Tate in the UFC 200 main event by first-round submission and now she is champion.
The division has been topsy-turvy since Holm beat Rousey, who has not set a timeframe for her return. None of that makes Holm feel like she should have waited around.
“The best way I’ve been trying to explain it is OK, then technically I would still have the title right now, but what would I be doing with it?” Holm said. “Just polishing it sitting on the wall? What would be my goal? I’m in this sport because I like to fight. I’m in this because of passion. I wanted to fight. I didn’t want to just hold onto it. OK, I could have said I held the belt longer, but for what? Just to sit around? I wanted to fight and I wanted to challenge myself. And did it end up in a loss? Yes. But that’s not because I didn’t take the fight with Ronda, it’s because I didn’t perform well when I fought Miesha. I made a big mistake.”
Holm, 34, also does not want to be defined by her win over Rousey. She is a former three-division boxing champion and really one of the elite female combat sports athletes of all time, regardless of the loss to Tate.
“I don’t think that a whole division should be based around one fighter, one fight, one moment,” Holm said. “I don’t want my career to be based around one fighter. It’s my career, too. And I wanted to keep pushing forward with it and doing well with it. If I wait around for one fighter, then what is that for me? So am I second best or second priority now? I want to fight for myself and my career and not for someone else.”
UFC president Dana White blasted Holm’s manager Lenny Fresquez after the Holm-Tate fight for not wanting to wait for the Rousey rematch, saying Fresquez is “an old boxing guy who thinks he’s smart and he isn’t.” Holm said that’s water under the bridge. Her relationship with the UFC, she said, is fine. And now she’s focusing on beating Shevchenko and putting herself back in that title shot consideration.
“For me, it doesn’t bother me,” Holm said. “I know the truth and my management would never tell me to take a fight. They relay what I desire. I said I would like to fight, so they pushed for me to fight. So, really you can’t get mad at them. They’re speaking on my behalf.”
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