Ever since Holly Holm transitioned from boxing to MMA full time, her name has been lobbed up as a potential opponent for Ronda Rousey.
In March 2014, Holm’s management team met with the UFC about a contract, but days later, UFC president Dana White went as far as saying that the talks went sour and the promotion no longer was interested in signing the former boxing champion.
However, a few months later, the two sides were able to come to an agreement. While details about the contract dispute never were made public, according to Holm, it may have been her team’s prudence that hindered the contract talks.
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"What’s funny is when we signed the contracts, for all these years my (boxing) promoter was Lenny Fresquez and Fresquez Productions, and he’s now my agent/manager, and he negotiated in my contract … He said ‘I think they’re going to give you Ronda early so we’re going to have a whole separate contract for that’ and I didn’t even think about it," Holm told FOX Sports recently.
"It’s why I’m so thankful I have people like that around me. I think there was a joke that was coming from the other side at the UFC that was like ‘She hasn’t even fought in the UFC, this is her first contract and you’re talking about a title fight!’ But that’s the kind of belief my team has in me."
Two fights later, Fresquez’s foresight that Holm could be fighting Rousey paid off as she’s now headlining the UFC 193 show that’s expected to break the record for attendance in the UFC.
Holm is glad that her team not only believed that she would make it to the title shot so early, but also did it knowing that she could be the person to finally dethrone Rousey as the best fighter in the women’s bantamweight division.
"I’m glad I have good people looking out for me," Holm said. "They made it really easy for me because when this fight came up, everything was laid out in place and just ready to go.
"It’s something that I think if my team saw me being there soon, they gave me confidence so when it came I can’t say I was surprised because it’s something we already saw in my future anyway. I obviously had to win along the way to get here but it went quick. Only two fights and here I am."
That quiet confidence is part of the reason Holm isn’t intimidated by the moment, or facing Rousey in only her third UFC fight.
In some ways, Holm has been preparing for this showdown for years, and it’s finally happening. Given that she has only two fights in the UFC, some believe this might be too much, too soon for Holm, but she adopts a different philosophy when tackling the Rousey puzzle.
"I was just glad it was finally here. I was excited, they called and I said ‘Let’s do it’. Every fight I’ve had and even before my first fight scheduled with the UFC, when I signed my contract I was coming off of an injury and I couldn’t really take a fight immediately, so it was a long time waiting and every question was ‘How long until you fight Ronda Rousey?’ They were asking that before I even fought in the UFC," Holm said.
"So when the fight was actually presented I thought ‘Oh great, this is what we want anyway, so let’s take it and do the best with it.’"
As far as judging Holm based on her UFC wins over Raquel Pennington and Marion Reneau, she’s fine that neither one ended in a spectacular knockout or vicious finish inside the first round.
Holm has spent 30 minutes inside the Octagon already, and that is a big bonus in her mind going into a five-round fight against Rousey, who during her entire six-fight UFC career has spent less than 20 total minutes in action.
"I’m glad that I didn’t come in and get a first-round knockout with either one of them because it gave me ring time or Octagon experience. I’m glad I was able to be put into a few different situations in the fight and be able to do well with them," Holm said.
"I’m happy with the past that I’ve had and I just want to keep doing better. I’m never 100 percent satisfied with my performance, but I think they’ve been performances to help me get where I’m at now."