One of the buzz names in MMA right now is Holly Holm, the 18-time boxing champion who fought this last Friday night at Legacy 30 against Juliana Werner. Though it wasn’t officially dubbed a showcase, it was perceived to be one for Holm, who was competing in just her seventh MMA bout. With Holm’s contract expiring in Legacy, the questions as to where she’d end up next -- meaning whether or not she might be UFC-bound -- began to overshadow the work at hand. Which, of course, was to defeat Werner.
The whole thing began to rankle Holm, who did end up beating Werner in her hometown of Albuquerque via TKO in the fifth round. The victory was made a lot more impressive given the full scope of the circumstances; the next day Holm tweeted out an x-ray image of a broken arm that she suffered in the fight.
Holm, along with her agent Lenny Fresquez, appeared on Monday’s edition of The MMA Hour and talked about the injury, the performance, and where it might lead.
"[The broken arm] happened in the first round," Holm told host Ariel Helwani. "[Werner] kind of threw a kick, like a head kick, and it wasn’t even the hardest kick. I just kind of lazily threw my arm out there to block it and it hit just right and I felt a little snap in there. And I thought, well, maybe it’s just a charley horse…I kept trying to think the best.
"I guess through the first round I knew it was kind of bad, but I figured we’d see how it goes through the fight. And the second round when we were in the clinch I knew that it really was bad, because I couldn’t really grab to the inside of her arms to try and fight for the underhooks and things like that."
Holm said she didn’t inform her corner until after the third round, not wanting the information to leak to Werner and possibly turn her broken arm into a target. She overcame the hardship and was able to score the technical knockout midway through the fifth, which began with a blistering head kick that dropped the Brazilian.
As for a timetable for her return, Holm -- who has never suffered a broken bone before -- said she is weighing options on whether or not to undergo surgery.
"We’re talking about it with the surgeons now," she said. "I want the best end result, so that might mean surgery. But we’ll see. They say it can heal the way it is but it might heal stronger with [surgery], so we’re kind of looking at the options. By the end of the week I’m sure we’ll have a decision."
With the win over Werner, the 32-year Holm raised her record to 7-0 in pro MMA, and now the question becomes what’s next for the Winkeljohn-Jackson fighter. Many fans would like to see her segue into the UFC, where a potential title fight against current bantamweight champion Ronda Rousey would sit on the horizon. Fresquez met with UFC president Dana White and Lorenzo Fertitta at UFC 171, yet things went south shortly thereafter when White found out that negotiations were made public, and said the UFC no longer had interest in bringing in Holm.
Fresquez didn’t want to comment on White’s reaction, but did confirm that the UFC made an offer to Holm. When asked what he didn’t like about the initial offer, Fresquez said it boiled down to a basic discrepancy in value.
"I value Holly a lot more than anybody," he said. "To me she’s worth a lot more than anybody, she’s second to none in my book. And of course people are going to say, ‘you’re biased, you’ve been working with her for ten years, you’ve been promoting her for ten years,’ and I want to clear up, I’m not her manager, I’m her agent. And she’s known worldwide. I just don’t think people understand how well known she is. She’s taken on Mary Jo Sanders, Christy Martin, she’s fought in Auburn Hill’s arena…I mean, she’s taken on undefeated fighters over and over.
"Holly in my book, she’s the baddest female in the world. And she’s not afraid of anybody. Anybody on the UFC’s list, they don’t really bother us. We are looking to build up a good fight and we want to get a good payday. Our aspirations and goals are the same, but we just want to get paid and recognized and get respected for what she’s accomplished in her illustrious career."
One fight that was being talked about leading up to her fight with Werner was a possible bout with Invicta’s current featherweight champion, Cristiane "Cyborg" Justino. With Justino attempting to drop down to bantamweight, herself eying an eventual shot at Rousey’s UFC belt, there was even mention of a possible independent pay-per-view between Cyborg and Holm. Asked about it, Fresquez said he couldn’t divulge everything that’s being discussed.
"I can confirm that we invited Cris to come over to the fight and she couldn’t make it," he said. "That’s true. But I can’t talk about whatever talks we’ve had on that. We’ve talked to a lot of people. It’s an option, but Holly has a lot of options.
"Right now we’re going to first make sure she gets the best [attention] taking care of her arm, and then we’re going to look at all the different offers we have in front of us and see which one is the best for her career."
One of those options Fresquez mentioned, pending on Holm’s recovery time, was a boxing match in Las Vegas in September against world champion Cecilia Braekhus.
"That’s an option that we may consider, it just depends on how [Holm’s] arm is," he said. "My job is to get Holly the best opportunity that we can, and we’ll weigh all the options and see what’s best for her"
As for whether an immediate fight with Rousey (once her arm is healed) was something she’d welcome, versus taking on a couple of more top ten types beforehand, Holm said in a perfect world it would be the latter.
"I like to take one fight at a time, and I’d like to get a little more experience," she said. "I kind of like the way my trainer Mike Winkeljohn put it, that maybe I could go in and beat [Rousey] today, but we want to be a little more confident in that, and a little more prepared.
"Every time I look at a fight I think, well, anybody’s beatable. So if I had to take the fight right away, then I would believe that I could do that and I would go with it. And if not, if it was with somebody else, I would just take that fight. I always believe in myself. I feel like if you get in there without believing in yourself then you’ve already lost. If the fight comes then, yeah, I think I can beat her."