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Holly Holm won’t blame broken thumb for loss to Valentina Shevchenko, says ‘I just didn’t perform well’

Esther Lin, MMA Fighting

Holly Holm admits she was listless in her July loss against Valentina Shevchenko, and it wasn’t necessarily because she was surprised by anything her opponent did. Holm dropped a unanimous decision that put her behind the 8-ball for the time being in the women’s bantamweight division, strictly because she didn’t perform well.

That’s what the former bantamweight champion admitted on Monday, along with the fact that she broke her hand during the fight. She also made it very clear that one had nothing to do with the other.

"I didn’t watch the fight, but if I had to put a guess on it, I’d say [I broke it] the fourth round," she said during an appearance on The MMA Hour. "And it had nothing to do with why I lost the fight, that’s for sure. I didn’t perform well. I had almost like a mental block in there."

Holm, who trains with Greg Jackson and her longtime boxing coach Mike Winkeljohn in Albuquerque, said her training was spot on and she felt good going in. She just couldn’t find her rhythm that night in Chicago. 

"We had the right game plan, I just didn’t perform it," she said. "A lot of what [Shevchenko] was throwing were counter-hooks and things like that. We knew that was going to be there, there was nothing that should have shocked me or anything. She’s very tough, I take nothing away from her. But breaking my thumb was not why I lost the fight. I threw an overhand, I know what punch it is if I watch the fight, and I’m pretty sure it was in the fourth round. I threw an overhand and I caught nothing but thumb, and I just thought I jammed it. I thought, ew, this might hurt later. And I threw another one and though, oh no, yeah, that one’s real bad."

Holm said she suspected her thumb was a dislocation, and gave the injury a couple of days to heal before realizing it wasn’t getting any better. In fact, it began to get worse, which prompted a visit to the orthopedic surgeon.

"I didn’t have a lot of full motion in it," she said. "And of course it blew up like, you know when you blow up a medical glove, and the hand part gets really swollen and the fingers are small? That’s what my hand looked like."

She said she wanted to make sure she was ready to go once her hand was fully healed.

"I’m pretty good to go. I’ve been sparring actually, but I just spar with my left hand. I just trying to get a little more, kind of throw together some combinations," she said. "It’s making me work on a lot of other things, working my jab more, working on different combos still. I can’t punch 100 percent with my thumb yet, but 80 percent, and I can do pull-ups and things now, which is great.

"So, there’s still certain motions I can’t do. But, in a very short amount of time I’m going to be able to go 100 percent before we know it. I don’t to start from square one. That’s why I’ve been training, to kind of keep it moving, to keep flowing. I don’t want to be too out of shape when I’m back to 100 percent."

For the 35-year old Holm it was the second loss in a row since losing her title against Miesha Tate at UFC 196 in March. Some people thought that she might have come back too soon against Shevchenko after suffering that loss, but Holm herself doesn’t buy into that theory.

"No, I never put an excuse on anything," she said. "I just didn’t perform well, and that’s all there is to it. I felt great. I felt physically fine. I had great training, everything in our game plan was good. So, there’s no excuse. I’m not going to say I took anything too soon, or any reason why, I just didn’t perform well."

Holm said she was gunning to get back in the Octagon by the end of the year, against any opponent the UFC sees fit, in part to put a frustrating performance behind her.

"The game plan that we had was definitely the game plan that would work, and I just really didn’t capitalize on that," she said. "I always say that when I get in there I want to make sure and make the most of it at that time, and not wait until the fight’s over and say I wish I woulda, coulda, shoulda.

"Well, that’s exactly what happened this time. So it is very frustrated for me, but a learning experience at that. And I choose to always want to learn from my experiences. I don’t want to sit back and sulk or make excuses. That’s just not me or how I am, but yeah, it was a frustrating night for me. But I want to push to do better."