Holly Holm has faced nearly every prominent name in her weight class and there’s one legend she’d be open to fighting again.
Former two-division UFC champion Amanda Nunes was recently in attendance at UFC 297 in Toronto and though “The Lioness” has given no indication that she plans to come out of retirement, seeing her that close to the octagon again sparked a few conversations about whether she might have another fight or two in her.
On The MMA Hour, Holm was asked for her thoughts on a possible Nunes comeback and whether she’d like a rematch of their UFC 239 bantamweight title fight.
“[Nunes] might [come back],” Holm said. “That was even one of the things I thought when they were like, ‘We’ve got a fight for you, trust me, we’ve just got to see.’ I wonder if it would be like she’d have to at least have one fight before [a title shot] if she came back and at one point my coach and I were like, ‘No, probably not.’
“I didn’t think anything and then it was like, ‘Did you see something about Nunes maybe coming back?’ I thought about it too, but I don’t know. I do think that she’s enjoying time off. She was pretty active in being a double champion and all that. I have all the respect for her in this sport. Another fighter that’s fought the top girls. You really can’t take anything away from Amanda.”
Nunes successfully defended her title against Holm via first-round TKO in their July 2019 meeting, the last time that Holm challenged for a UFC belt. The former champion has stayed busy since, winning three of her past five fights with the only blemishes being a split decision loss to Ketlen Vieira and a submission loss to Mayra Bueno Silva that was later overturned to a no-contest when Silva tested positive for a banned substance she takes to address her ADHD.
Win or lose, Holm has seemingly always found herself standing across a decorated opponent, whether it’s Nunes, Cris Cyborg, Ronda Rousey, Valentina Shevchenko, Miesha Tate, Germaine de Randamie, or even Raquel Pennington, the recently crowned bantamweight champion that Holm holds two wins over.
Holm attributes her willingness to face the toughest competition to the experiences she had as a world champion boxer.
“When I first started fighting, as I was getting into some of my first title fights, I would see some of these girls, I would see this huge record and be really nervous and then I would start to look at who they fought,” Holm said. “They’d be like, 2-0, 1-0, 2-0, 1-0, for 12 fights straight, 20 fights straight. Then I was like, I don’t want to be like that. Those kinds of victories can’t even feel that good and I always wanted to make sure that I fought the best and I didn’t want to be a ‘paper champion,’ I didn’t want to be like that.
“Yes, there’s more risk with it when you’re fighting the best, and I do take pride in the fact that I’ve fought the best while they were currently the best. Not after the fact, I want to fight the best when they’re the best because those are the fights to take. Those are the most nerve-wracking fights, those are the most intense, you have so much to lose. A lot comes with that, but at the end of the day I look back even at my boxing career and I know that I fought all the top girls when they were currently in their prime and I’m very happy about that in that career, so why would I want to do anything here? I always want to take the biggest challenges and I’ve fallen short in some of my fights, but I still want to be able to believe in myself and take these big fights like that.”
Holm isn’t taking a step back for her next fight, which takes place at UFC 300 on April 13.
Awaiting Holm at the landmark event is two-time PFL champion and two-time Olympic gold medal-winning judoka Kayla Harrison, who makes her octagon debut at the event. Harrison has opened as a sizable favorite over Holm and the odds have only made Holm more excited about the matchup.
“I think what it is is being such an underdog gets you—I don’t know, there’s just a different feeling with it,” Holm said. “That’s just kind of how I feel about this fight. It’s kind of intrigued me, it’s a different fight, maybe because it’s also not anybody that has been in the UFC. Because your mind is on all these people, so when this came in it was just kind of a new journey, a new page, a new fighter to really think this could be one of those epic fights in history.”