The former UFC middleweight star and current ESPN analyst told Ariel Helwani on the 300th episode of The MMA Hour on Monday that he does not believe any of Holm's multiple boxing titles have any value whatsoever.
"She is making a claim that she is a 17-time world champion," Sonnen said. "I will tell you as an analyst, she has zero world championships. There is no validity to any one of those titles."
Holm, 33, is a former three-division boxing champion with titles in the WBF, WBO and WBA. She's a former two-time Ring magazine female boxer of the year. Sonnen is not impressed by any of those designations, because he classifies "world champion" as someone who goes through a tournament process much like the Olympics.
"That never happened in any of those 17 championships," Sonnen said. "She showed up for some event, the promoter needed a main event, so he called that main event a world title. It's not a knock on her, but that's what happened. I'm not gonna sit back as an analyst and call her a world champion, let alone 17 times. If she beats Ronda Rousey, she's the world champion."
Rousey defends her UFC women's bantamweight title against Holm in the main event of UFC 193 on Nov. 15 in Melbourne, Australia. The UFC will attempt to break its all-time attendance record at Etihad Stadium, which holds upwards of 75,000 fans. Sonnen is not giving Holm (9-0) much of a chance -- even standing up, which is her greatest strength.
"Again, she's got some skills," Sonnen said. "You'll hear the expression 'a puncher's chance,' but she's not very good at punching. Those boxing championships, they're not real. I'm not sure she could outstrike Ronda. She definitely can't outgrapple her. I wish her the best."
Sonnen said Holm is "very tough" and knows how to compete, which he does not believe most of the women in the 135-pound division understand. He also acknowledges how well-liked Holm is among those who know her.
"This is a very nice girl," Sonnen said. "I've never met Holly. She has a tremendous reputation. People love her. They don't just go, 'Oh, she's alright.' They go on and on about what a great teammate she is and what a great person she is. I want to make that clear before I start throwing stones here."
However, Sonnen is not even sure Holm is worthy of her No. 5 ranking in the division. And he thinks all those boxing titles are only significant on a piece of paper.
"In her defense, if she enters into an event and that promoter calls it the world title and puts a belt around her, I think she has the right to put it on her resume," Sonnen said.