Holly Holm's neck injury was a little more serious than many people believed.
The budding women's MMA star was forced out of her UFC debut in December with a herniated disc in between two vertebrae. The swelling made the disc press up against a nerve that caused Holm to essentially lose the use of her left tricep.
"At first I was kind of worrying if I had a neurological problem, because my arm wasn't working," Holm told MMA Fighting. "I couldn't even push down five pounds with my triceps. I think not knowing was worse. Once I found out I had a herniated disc, and this is pushing on my nerve and this is why you can't use it, it was almost a relief to me that it was fixable, healable."
Holm pulled out of the bout, got an epidural shot and underwent therapy. Her condition has improved exponentially, to the point where she was able to accept a fight with Pennington at UFC 184 on Feb. 28 in Los Angeles. That bout is now the co-main event. The strength in her arm has come back fully and she returned to wrestling and grappling in late December.
Holm's debut is much anticipated. The former three-division boxing champion is expected to be a future challenger for UFC women's bantamweight champion Ronda Rousey -- possibly sooner rather than later. The Albuquerque, N.M., native is 7-0 as a pro MMA fighter with six of her victories coming by knockout.
While Holm, 33, is confident it won't hamper her training or fighting, she admits that her neck could still be an issue moving forward.
"I don't think anything is going to be exactly the same in there," Holm said.
It just won't stop her from being ready for Pennington. Even while she was unable to do certain training, Holm still worked out aerobically and lifted what she could. She has little doubt that she'll be absolutely fine when she enters the Octagon.
"I don't feel like I'm behind the curve or too out of shape," Holm said. "So, I'm ready to rock and roll.
"This isn't an uncommon thing. I think that's what's comforting. It's not something that's been too much on my mind."