LOS ANGELES — Holly Holm was in attendance at T-Mobile Arena for UFC 200. She saw from cageside the first-round barrage Amanda Nunes laid on Miesha Tate. Nunes smashed Tate early and often with punches, eventually finishing with a rear-naked choke after dropping the champion to win the UFC women's bantamweight title.
Just four months earlier, Tate was choking Holm to win that same belt. After watching Nunes pour it on against Tate in Las Vegas, Holm somewhat second-guessed her conservative strategy in that fight.
"I wish I would have gone a little harder," Holm said at a media lunch this week. "Because I know I'm capable of more than I showed in the fight. But a lot of times you can do something and get into a bad situation even sooner. Who knows?"
Holm was winning on the cards heading into the fifth round. Tate managed to get her down to the ground and took her back in that final frame, cinching in a choke. It was a dramatic finish. And Holm is not necessarily sure a guns-blazing approach would have worked against Tate, either, given Tate's guile and craftiness.
"If you look at Miesha before we fought, she had run through all the top girls," Holm said. "She was outwrestling wrestlers. She dropped Jessica Eye with an overhand. She's had her moments against some of the toughest."
Holm (10-1) meets Valentina Shevchenko in the UFC on FOX 20 main event Saturday in Chicago. A victory could potentially earn her a title shot against Nunes. A rematch with Tate, though, is still on her mind.
"I want to avenge a loss," Holm said. "No matter what — whether she had the belt or not — I still would hate the fact that I lost the fight. Whether it would have been for the belt or not. I want to win no matter what. It doesn't matter if it's for the belt or not. So yeah, it's a sour taste in my mouth, just the loss in itself. Belt or no belt, it would still bother me either way."
Holm, 34, is bent on winning the title back. She has been clear that she fights for the accolades and achievements, rather than the money. If it were the other way around, maybe Holm would have waited for a rematch with Ronda Rousey, the woman she took the belt from with a head kick knockout, rather than fighting Tate.
If Holm is offered a title shot if she's able to get by Shevchenko, she'd likely take it. But part of her does wish it was still Tate with the belt.
"I wanted to be the one to do it, that's for sure," Holm said of taking the belt from Tate. "Anybody that beats me, I know that people say, ‘Oh, do you want her to go lose now?' I'm like no, because if she beat me she better beat everybody else. I think that if they get beat, maybe that shows that you're not as good, if you look at the big picture. I don't really want them to go lose now. I want them to beat everybody. If they beat me, they better beat everybody."
Tate could not beat Nunes, but she did beat Holm. Holm beat Rousey, but lost to Tate. What does that mean if Holm and Nunes were matched up against one another? Not much, Holm said.
"Every matchup is different," Holm said. "Every fighter has a different fight every time they walk in there. I don't like to compare the two."