Holly Holm has had a crazy year, going from relative MMA obscurity to the talk of the UFC overnight. Then, it was back down to earth a few months later when she lost her title in her first defense.
As a former professional boxer, she is considered the best striker in women’s MMA, and that was a lesson that former UFC Bantamweight Champion learned the hard way at UFC 193.
Holly Holm used Rousey’s aggression against her and landed punches, kicks and elbows with nasty precision. In less than six minutes she turned the former champion from an invincible monster to a vulnerable shell of the fighter she had grown to be.
Then, rather than wait until a Rousey rematch for her first defense, Holm scheduled Miesha Tate in her first defense and lost a back-and-forth battle via Round 5 submission.
While Ronda melted down after her loss, Holly Holm showed a bit more poise. After all, she had been there before in boxing against Anne Sophie Mathis and promptly bounced back to recapture her crown in the very next fight.
MMA insiders and fans have gotten to know this about Holm and are expecting her to bounce back with her next bout.
But what she is gearing up for could end up being an even bigger upset than the one she handed to Rousey — only this time, it’s possible that she could end up being on the receiving end.
When Holly lost to Tate, it was surprising, but not as much as when she beat Rousey. That’s because Miesha has a deep MMA background/resume, and since “styles make fights,” as Holm herself said, Tate presented some dangers to the former champ that shouldn’t be present when she returns to the octagon at UFC 200 on July 23.
According to MMA Junkie, Holly Holm is set to face off with rising star Valentina Shevchenko. Shevchenko has run off a string of victories to bring her MMA record to 12-2.
While she lost her last bout, her opponent, Amanda Nunes, will be fighting Tate at UFC 200 for the UFC Bantamweight Championship, and the Shevchenko-Nunes bout went the distance with Nunes scoring a three-round unanimous decision victory.
That fight went down on March 5, 2016, and while there is no shame in losing to a possible future champion, there are some troubling hurdles for Valentina if she hopes to hang with Holly Holm.
For starters, Shevchenko’s strengths are largely attributed to one thing — her striking. She has scored most of her noteworthy stoppages via technical knockout.
That said, her toughest opponents she has either lost to or vanquished via decision. In other words, the resume isn’t quite there to trade fists with someone of Holm’s background.
While Holly is a relative newcomer to the UFC, she fought professionally in a boxing ring for 11 years and was a world champion before devoting full-time attention to MMA.
Shevchenko, by comparison, has been fighting professionally since 2005, but with only 14 fights under her belt, has kept a comparatively lazy pace compared to Holly Holm (under 1.3 fights per year vs. Holm’s 52 fights, or 3.7 fights per year).
For most industry insiders, that makes Shevchenko a much bigger underdog than Holm was to Rousey. While Holly’s destruction of Rousey was a shock to most general audiences, students of the fight game could not compare the two women’s resumes and see that upset in the same light.
After all, Rousey had only fought three times as an amateur and 12 times as a professional anything before squaring off with Holly Holm. She also cut her teeth while women’s MMA was in its infancy.
That will make a Shevchenko win over Holly Holm much more shocking than Holm-Rousey. But what do you think, readers?
Does Valentina have what it takes to stop the “Preacher’s Daughter”? Sound off in the comments section.
[Image via Holly Holm Facebook]