Women's boxing champion Holly Holm switching to MMA, with eyes on Ronda Rousey

Will Fox, Full Court Press

Holly Holm, a multi-time world champion boxer, will retire from the sport after a May 11 fight to concentrate solely on mixed martial arts. Holm, who made the announcement at a Tuesday press conference in Albuquerque, New Mexico, has spent the last two years alternating between the two sports, but said that MMA has become her "passion."

Since making her MMA debut in March 2011, the 31-year-old is 3-0, with all victories coming by way to KO or TKO. But she has even longer ties to the sport than that; since the start of her career, she has been coached and managed by renowned trainer Mike Winkeljohn, best known for his work with Greg Jackson.

In making her decision, Holm credited Winkeljohn with offering clarity on her career.

"When we were deciding which way to go with my future, my trainer, Mike Winkeljohn, said it best, 'You want to climb a new mountain,'" she said. "This thing has created a new spark in me and I'm following my heart."

Holm compiled a 32-2-3 record during over a decade in The Sweet Science, and is currently rated as the No. 1 welterweight in the world by several rankings polls and databases, including WBAN and BoxRec.com.

Holm has won titles in three weight classes but spent most of her career at welterweight (145 pounds) and light-welterweight (138), putting her within range of the UFC's bantamweight (135-pound) division. Not surprisingly, that appears to be her long-term goal, as her longtime boxing promoter Lenny Fresquez admitted during the Tuesday presser.

"My job is to get her prepared to take down Ronda Rousey," Fresquez said. "… I’ll depend a lot on (Winkeljohn) on that front, but I kind of know the path that we’re going. Within four or five fights’ time, we’ll be challenging Ronda Rousey."

Holm's last MMA fight was in February, when she TKO'd Katie Merrill at Bellator. Her final boxing match takes place next month in New Mexico against Mary McGee, and then she turns the page towards the future.

"You never know what’s going to happen," she said. "There are more ways to lose. What makes it exciting is you have more ways (to win). I’m not taking an easy path."

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