Mixed martial arts bantamweight champion Holly Holm is slated to tangle with challenger Miesha Tate at U.F.C. 197 on March 5, 2016 in Las Vegas, bypassing Ronda Rousey. The matchup was sealed with a staredown between Holm, 34, and Tate, 29, at a Las Vegas press conference on Wednesday afternoon, January 20.
Holly Holm is the current U.F.C. Bantamweight Champion, having knocked out Rousey with a head kick in the second round of their U.F.C. 193 main event in Melbourne, Australia. The shocking upset on November 15, 2015, gave Rousey the first loss of her career.
A former professional boxer and kickboxer, Holly holds the distinction of repeatedly winning the world boxing championship, and 18 times defending her titles in three weight classes. “Preacher’s Daughter” Holm is the first person to win championships in both boxing and mixed martial arts, and U.F.C. fighter Jon Jones characterizes her as “the greatest female athlete in the history of combat sports.”
Challenger Tate, who lost twice to Rousey in the last three years, finds herself deprived of a third opportunity to face the former champ, but is not entirely disappointed. According to MMA Fighting, Tate compares facing Holly Holm to “a breath of fresh air,” without the drama that marked her two previous encounters with Rousey.
“If anything, I’m probably a little bit more anxious for this fight than I would be for another one with Ronda, because I feel like this is a whole new puzzle. I feel like maybe I was just starting to figure out that Ronda puzzle, but this is like an entirely new challenge with a great support system.”
After trouncing Jessica Eye at U.F.C. on Fox last July, “Cupcake” Tate was supposed to get a title shot against “Rowdy” Rousey. Winning four straight had qualified Tate as No. 1 contender, despite her two previous losses to Rousey. So disappointed was “Cupcake” when Holly Holm was picked to face the champ instead that the temptation to retire became a strong consideration. A Rousey-Tate rematch becomes a likelihood only if the “Preacher’s Daughter” beats “Cupcake” at U.F.C. 197 on March 5 in Las Vegas.
Meanwhile, Rousey hosted Saturday Night Live on January 23 and, for the first time, acknowledged Holly Holm as deserving of her victory. It was a lightening of the strained antagonism between the two prior to their Australian clash.
“This is the first time I’m talking to my fans since I lost to Holly Holm in November, which, by the way, was a fight Holly deserved to win. And I just wanted to take a minute to sincerely congratulate her.”
In true S.N.L. spirit, Rousey waved her hand to interrupt when her audience started clapping. “That’s enough!” was her punch line.
A return bout with Rousey has ceased to be a pressing concern for Holly. After it became official at the U.F.C. 197 press conference that she’s been booked to take on Tate, Holm seems to have adopted a philosophical mindset toward the much-anticipated grudge match. MMA Mania quoted “Preacher’s Daughter” making the following statement.
“I was open to a rematch with Ronda, but I just wanted whatever opportunity was going to come. I think this is even more of a challenging way to go. There is a lot of pressure behind it and anticipation of what I am going to do after the last fight. There is a lot of high expectations. And who wants to be a one-hit wonder, right? So yeah, I want to perform and do well. A lot of people are saying, ‘Oh, you made it to the top!’ And it’s like, that’s just one fight. But, every fight is still something where you want to get better and improve. I still feel like I am climbing and climbing and I don’t ever want to feel like I am at the top.”
Being the prevailing bantamweight champ with the world still reeling from her upset victory over the seemingly indestructible Rousey has “Preacher’s Daughter” Holly Holm counting her blessings.
[Photo by Quinn Rooney/Getty Images]