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Holly Holm willing to fight Cris Cyborg at 140 pounds

Esther Lin, MMA Fighting

The narrative going around is that Holly Holm turned down a fight with Cris Cyborg at UFC 198. While that statement is accurate in a vacuum, it doesn't tell the whole story.

It's not that Holm doesn't want to fight Cyborg, she told Dave Ross of 120 Sports on Wednesday. It was just that the timing was not right.

When Holm was offered the fight with Cyborg, she was still yearning for a rematch with Miesha Tate for the UFC women's bantamweight title. Tate beat Holm by fifth-round submission at UFC 196 in March. Holm turned down the bout with Cyborg, hoping to get a chance to avenge the loss to Tate.

"I was just kind of holding on to see if I could get the rematch for the belt," Holm said. ... "I'm not against fighting Cyborg. It just didn't seem like the right time."

The UFC ended up booking Tate against Amanda Nunes at UFC 200 on July 9 in Las Vegas. And Cyborg fought and beat Leslie Smith by first-round TKO in her UFC debut at UFC 198 last Saturday in Brazil.

Without a title rematch on the table, Holm accepted a fight with Valentina Shevchenko in the main event of UFC on FOX 20 on July 23 in Chicago.

While Shevchenko will be a tough out, Holm remains part of a popular triumvirate at the top of the UFC's women's bantamweight division with Tate and Ronda Rousey, whom Holm knocked out last November at UFC 193.

Cyborg can be added to that mix, but she has said that she would be unable to make the 135-pound weight limit of the women's bantamweight division. Cyborg is currently the Invicta FC 145-pound champion. She did make 139 pound to fight Smith at a catchweight.

While Cyborg might never be able to compete in the UFC's 135-pound division, she can still fight in the UFC at 140 pounds or above. That would not stand in Holm's way.

"I'm not even stuck on the 135 compared to the 140 stuff," Holm said. "It's not really a big thing for me."

Holm, 34, competed as boxer as heavy as 152 pounds. So the topic of weight has no bearing on whether Holm and Cyborg will ever fight. In fact, "The Preacher's Daughter" said that bout is very much a possibility.

Just because she turned it down previously when she wanted another fight instead doesn't mean Holm won't say yes the next time.

"In boxing, I fought in three weight classes," Holm said. "I'm not gonna say that I'm against going at 140. I actually think Cyborg might be able to do 135. Who knows? But that's definitely something that could be an option for the future. I'm actually really happy for her victory. I really like Cyborg. I think she's a great gal."

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