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Holly Holm Focuses on UFC Gold Before International Boxing HOF Enshrinement

Holm wants to win back the women’s bantamweight title before retiring from a legendary career that could also land her in the UFC Hall of Fame

One of the greatest fighters of her generation, Holly Holm’s next stop is enshrinement in the International Boxing Hall of Fame.

This June, Holm will be inducted as part of the Class of 2022 at a ceremony in Canastota, N.Y. But by no means is this any indication that she is slowing down. The former women’s bantamweight champion is hungry for more success in the Octagon, eyeing another run with the title currently held by Julianna Peña.

“I want to get back to the championship,” said Holm, who has won her last two fights. “The Hall of Fame is a wonderful accomplishment, but I’m going for more. I want to be in the UFC Hall of Fame, too. Why not? I want to be the one to do it. So my next goal is to get the belt back.”

Already a member of the International Women’s Boxing Hall of Fame, it was merely a matter of time before the IBHOF came knocking. Holm crafted a masterful boxing career, finishing with nine knockouts and a sensational 33-2-3 record.

Holm captured world titles in three different weight divisions and sought out every top opponent. By the time she retired from the sport in 2013, it appeared that she could never top her in success in boxing.

Holly Holm

Holly Holm

By now we know it is foolish to ever doubt Holm. In November of 2015, she knocked out Ronda Rousey to win the UFC women’s bantamweight title, becoming a global star in the process.

“The experience from boxing was a big foundation for me in MMA,” Holm said. “I’d seen every style of fighter, so I had the ring experience. Boxing helped me emotionally, too, because it taught me to deal with adversity. Those trials helped prepare me for Ronda. That’s a huge reason why I was mentally sound and able to perform the way I did against her.”

Boxing served as the path that brought Holm to MMA. After enrolling in aerobics classes when she was 16, Holm’s cardio-kickboxing instructor saw unlimited potential in her. That turned out to be Mike Winkeljohn, who, 24 years later, is still Holm’s coach.

“I started cardio kickboxing to keep in shape, and then I asked the coach if I could try out the sparring classes,” recalled Holm. “Then, after I watched some of my teammates fight, I thought it would be so much fun to do that, too. That’s how it all started.”

Holm began training. A quick learner, she had strong technique and a willingness to learn. Rather quickly, Winkeljohn found her an exhibition fight.

“My coach knew I had a natural talent, but he needed to see if I had the fighting spirit,” Holm said. “That’s why that exhibition was so meaningful. Back then, I was never thinking about fighting for a title or being in the Hall of Fame. I just loved boxing so much and wanted to prove I belonged.

“In that exhibition, my opponent had more experience than me, so I needed to put it on her. And that’s what I did. After a couple combos, they threw in the towel. And it kept going from there.”

Holly Holm

Holly Holm 

The youngest of three children, Holm benefited from learning from older brothers Brian and Weston. Their belief in her gave her a confidence that helped propel her to new heights in combat sports.

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“At the beginning of my career, I knew those girls weren’t as tough as my brothers,” Holm said. “So my mentality was to take what I’d learned from my brothers and just to be too much for these girls. Then I learned the technique, but I always had a desire to be better and tougher.”

A turning point for Holm was her first loss. Those remain a rarity for her, but her first boxing defeat – taking place on a hot June night in 2004 – inspired Holm to devote herself even further to the craft.

“It started from a headbutt that cut my eye open,” Holm said. “My coach called it, and he’s not one to call a fight, so I knew it was a pretty bad cut. I had to accept it, but I was devastated.

“Losing was such a heavy heartache. I remember someone trying to offer me comfort by saying, ‘It’s not the end of the world.’ To me, actually, it is. I put my soul into it. It’s spiritual. It’s mental. It’s physical. So when I lose, it’s the worst thing in the world. It’s no different now. I still lose sleep over my losses.”

Currently ranked second in the women’s bantamweight division, Holm is putting in the work to produce victories. She is building a Hall of Fame-caliber career in MMA, which is even more remarkable after her success in boxing.

While Holm’s focus is on a second UFC title run, which would add another layer to her legacy, she is also looking forward to taking a moment this June to reflect on her boxing career and enjoy her Hall of Fame induction.

“I just took one fight at a time,” said Holm. “So to be inducted into the Hall of Fame, it’s surreal.”


Dustin Poirier knows that Nate Diaz is the perfect opponent for him

Nate Diaz

Nate Diaz

Dustin Poirier stated earlier this week that he is willing to fight Nate Diaz on short-notice.

That fight is unlikely to occur, but Poirier is smart to want it.

Poirier is an elite fighter with few peers. But after taking a loss last month from Charles Oliveira, there is no title bout in Poirier’s future. And while the lightweight division is overflowing with talent, there are few opponents who can match up or exceed Poirier’s star power.

Enter Nate Diaz.

Poirier may very well be the second most elite lightweight in the world. Since there are no titles for second-ranked fighters, he is attempting to make the next best move for his career: schedule a bout against a must-see fighter in Diaz.

Diaz is a draw, but also no match for Poirier. He struggled with Leon Edwards in their bout this past June. This is similar to Colby Covington angling for a fight against Jorge Masvidal in terms of cherrypicking a high-profile opponent that you should beat.

Without the Diaz fight, it is an even longer road back to the title picture for Poirier.

Justin Barrasso can be reached at JBarrasso@gmail.com. Follow him on Twitter @JustinBarrasso.