Holly Holm will settle for nothing less than gold: 'I want that belt again'
It's safe to say Holly Holm has experienced the highest highs and the lowest lows over past two years of her UFC career.
After only two fights in the promotion following a successful boxing career, Holm was given a title bout against Ronda Rousey in 2015. At the time, Holm was a substantial underdog to Rousey, who was undefeated and virtually unblemished during her entire mixed martial arts career.
To put it into perspective, Holm was a far bigger underdog to Rousey (12-to-1) than Conor McGregor is currently sitting with zero boxing experience as he's preparing to meet 49-0 former champion Floyd Mayweather later this year (current odds have McGregor as a 6-to-1 underdog).
Holm then shocked the world with a second-round knockout to beat Rousey and become the second ever women's bantamweight champion in UFC history. She was on top of the world and spent the next couple of weeks as the toast of the town, sitting courtside at NBA games and hanging around with celebrities like Jamie Foxx.
Unfortunately, Holm's career went in the exact opposite trajectory over the next year and a half after she lost the title in her next fight to Miesha Tate before falling in a decision to Valentina Shevchenko a few months later. The hits just kept on coming when Holm dropped a very close decision to Germaine de Randamie in the inaugural UFC women's featherweight title this past February.
Still as Holm prepares for her return to action this weekend against former title contender Bethe Correia, she's keeping everything in perspective while remembering that she's faced nothing but the top fighters in the world throughout her UFC career.
"I think that one thing that I have to remind myself is that not only am I fighting the best of the best, but the fights that I've had in these losses — I mean Miesha came back and choked me out, we all know that but until then I was ahead on the scorecards, I was winning that fight. She came back as she does in a lot of fights and that's one of things she does is come back and really capitalize and she got me, but it wasn't like full domination. Same thing with my Shevchenko and de Randamie fights. I thought I beat de Randamie and Shevchenko was a close fight," Holm explained when speaking to FOX Sports.
"It's not necessarily three losses in a row but it's not like I just got dominated. Yes, it's losses and they are losses to me but I know that it was the domination that I got worked or schooled in any of those fights. So I think that sometimes helps me with my mental edge a little bit but I know I have it in me still to compete and beat these girls."
Holm understands that expectations were very high for her after beating Rousey, but the promises the pressure of duplicating that performance never got the best of her.
Instead, Holm insists that she always expects to go out there and beat her opponents just like when she head kicked Rousey into unconsciousness in 2015, but sadly things just haven't gone her way the last few times out.
"A lot of people always want perfection and especially after the fight with Ronda [Rousey], people were expecting perfection, which I want perfection. I do," Holm said. "But anything can happen in there and you are against the best in the world. My plan is to get back on that winning road."
The path back starts with a fight against Correia this weekend where Holm is sitting comfortably as a considerable favorite going into the matchup.
Correia has put together some impressive wins during her UFC career, but she's arguably only faced championship-level competition once inside the Octagon and that's when she was dealt a 34-second knockout loss from Rousey in 2015.
Holm won't disrespect Correia by saying she's overmatched in this fight or even coming close to underestimating the Brazilian going into this weekend, but she readily admits that should absolutely stop her recent three fight losing streak.
"I'm not underestimating her but I don't think she's the most skilled athlete. It's not to talk trash or anything of the sorts," Holm said.
"If I fight my fight, I see myself victorious. That's all there is to it. I don't see any trash talk in there. That's just me confident in my abilities. Just like I was with other fights, you have to believe you can do it or it's not going to happen. I do truly believe that I can make this fight mine."
Holm knows she can't win this fight and just erase her past three losses, but it's a good start to climb back up the hill towards another run at the championship. The last thing Holm wants is to just be another fighter on the roster because the day she decides the title is no longer within reach is when she will probably walk away from the sport for good.
"I would love to go back to the title," Holm said. "I think anybody in this sport or in our division should want that because that would mean you're wanting to fight the best and become the best. So that's exactly what I want.
"I want to get back there and I want that belt again. Otherwise, I should probably retire. I'm not there for one fight or just to play around and be competitive. I'm there because I want to be No. 1. So yeah, I really do want to be able to get to that title again."