A lot has changed in the life of Holly Holm since knocking-out the previously unbeaten Ronda Rousey six minutes into their UFC world bantamweight championship title fight on Sunday.
Not only has the 34-year-old former pro boxer been catapulted on to the home page of virtually every media outlet in the world, Holm also condemned Rousey to a 180 day medical suspension and totalled $100,000 in bonuses for winning both the “Fight of the Night” and “Performance of the Night” accolades at the Etihad Stadium in Melbourne.
But perhaps the biggest and most bizarre offshoot of Holm’s victory is the fact that Albuquerque City Council have issued a proclamation formally recognizing November as “Holly Holm Month” in honour of her accomplishment.
While Holm made a brief stop in Albuquerque on Wednesday after returning from Australia, media obligations in New York and Las Vegas mean that local supporters are expected to have to wait for a period of weeks before attending a parade in honor of the athlete, which the City Council also made provision for.
Holm, the youngest of three children, was born in Albuquerque to a preacher father, Roger, and a massage therapist mother, Tammy, who is of Irish and Swedish descent. It is this familial background from which she derives her nickname – “The Preacher’s Daughter” – and Holly partook in a variety of athletic disciplines including soccer, gymnastics and swimming prior to graduating from Manzano High School in 2000.
It was after standing out in a local cardio-kickboxing class conducted by Mike Winkeljohn, however, that Holm, then aged 20, was fast tracked towards a career as a fight athlete. Winkeljohn, together with Greg Jackson, operate what is widely regarded as the foremost MMA training camp in the world in Albuquerque, the Jackson-Winkeljohn MMA Academy.
“It is for good reason Greg Jackson is the most recognizable coach in MMA”, Bleacher Report’s Sean Smith noted last May. “He and Mike Winkeljohn have put together a team that is head and shoulders above the others.
“Jon Jones gives Jackson-Winkeljohn MMA the best pound-for-pound fighter in the sport, while the gym also happens to host a greater volume of high-level fighters than any other gym in the world.”
It was thus at the Jackson-Winkeljohn Academy that Holm began her assent, first to the elite level of professional women’s boxing (where she fought 38 times and won titles across three different weight divisions), and then to UFC world champion status in MMA. Indeed, senior MMA columnist Mike Chiappetta argued that Holm’s Albuquerque pedigree was essential to her defeat of Rousey at UFC 193.
“Holm came into the bout with two significant advantages,” Chiappetta stated. “First, and most obvious, was her boxing…The second, and as it turns out, equally important advantage was her coaching. In a beautiful case of serendipity, Holm was born and bred in Albuquerque, New Mexico, the home base of arguably the most successful fight camp in MMA history, Team Jackson-Winkeljohn.”
The importance of Holm’s home city to her subsequent success, the apex of which was surely reached on Sunday, thus makes it seem wholly apposite that the fighter is honoured in Albuquerque and returns to receive the acclaim of her home support as soon as media and sponsorship duties allow.
Holm’s defeat of Rousey has served to transform the competitive landscape of female UFC. One just hopes that the fighter finds the time to celebrate in Albuquerque before her very own “Holly Holm Month” is out.
[Photo by Quinn Rooney/Getty Images]