Holly Holm: We all want great things for Jon Jones
When former boxing champion Holly Holm made her UFC debut back in February, there was almost no chance she could possibly even hope to live up to the hype that was built up before her first fight.
She was touted as the best striker the women’s division has ever seen and maybe the biggest threat to bantamweight champion Ronda Rousey’s title reign. Holm defeated Raquel Pennington, but she only eked out a split decision and it left many wondering if she was more pretender than contender after so much expectation being heaped on her shoulders in the weeks leading to her debut.
As she prepares for her next fight this week in San Diego against Marion Reneau, Holm can admit that the nerves were definitely a factor in her debut but she’s also aware that even if she knocked Pennington out in the first round there would still be detractors after the amount of praise she received before she ever stepped into the Octagon.
"There’s a ton of nerves for every fight I’ve been in, it doesn’t matter if it was my debut. This last one definitely had a little bit more," Holm told FOX Sports on Monday. "There’s a lot more factors going into it. It just kind of kept building — one bad injury, second bad injury, postponement and all the anticipation and expectation and finally just to get in there and do it. It was the biggest event I’ve ever fought in front of and coming off of big injuries and first fight in the UFC, I don’t feel like I’ll ever feel the emotions that I felt for that fight, but I still felt all right.
"There’s things I did in the fight that I’m proud of and there’s a lot of things that I did not do that I want to be able to show. I know I have a lot more potential than I showed in my last fight, which is just the pressure I put on myself going forward."
After the fight was over, Holm heard all the criticism about her performance. She went from highly touted title contender to overrated flop — and this is after she won.
He has helped out a lot with my camp. I’ve been very positive,” Holm said. “We’re all positive about it. We all want great things for him
— Holly Holm on Jon Jones
As much as it might upset some fighters to receive that dramatic shift in attention in the matter of 24 hours, Holm says it’s all part of the job.
"I knew that there was no way to live up to what everybody was expecting," Holm said. "There’s a lot of criticism in this job and what we do. It’s in front of everybody and for everybody to have their own opinion about what we do. Don’t be in this position if you can’t handle that criticism.
"It doesn’t bother me one bit. I’m glad people think that I can do well. I always say I would rather that be the scenario than on the other end of it saying ‘we thought she’d be real crappy.’ I’ll take the side that I’m on. I’ll take that people think that I’m going to do well, they have faith in me and believe in me and that makes me feel stronger."
As soon as her fight with Pennington was over, Holm was working on her technique and fixing the mistakes she made before she even got home to Albuquerque.
Coaches like Greg Jackson and Mike Winkeljohn worked with her in the lead up to her second fight to add all the elements necessary to come away with a win and Holm even had an old friend in her corner throughout the training camp to help out whenever he could.
Former UFC light heavyweight champion Jon Jones has been back in the gym working out and keeping up with his teammates while dealing with his own personal turmoil following his arrest in April for allegedly causing an accident and fleeing the scene. Jones is currently out on bond, but suspended from the UFC indefinitely while he deals with his legal issues.
In his time away, Jones has stayed active in the gym and helped fighters like Holm in any way he’s able. She says it’s definitely a valuable resource.
"I think Jon’s always been a really supportive teammate," Holm said. "He’s really put himself available since then. He’s always been helpful. We don’t train at the exact same hour. They finish right when we start and a lot of times he’ll stay and watch the lightweights and he’s said before ‘this is the pay-per-view right here, I just watch this.’
"It doesn’t matter who it is, he’ll go up and say ‘hey you should try this, I think this will work for your style.’ Jon’s always a personable person and he’s always pretty positive and he’s got a great heart on him. Any time anybody gets to know him they really want the best for him."
As Holm prepared for her fight with Reneau, she says Jones was present for many of her training and sparring sessions and his advice is always welcome but especially considering everything he’s going through on his own right now.
"He has helped out a lot with my camp. I’ve been very positive," Holm said. "We’re all positive about it. We all want great things for him."