Heading into her main event fight against Bethe Correia at UFC Fight Night 111 in Singapore on Saturday, Holly Holm’s back was against the wall.
The former UFC women’s bantamweight champion was on the biggest skid of her professional fighting career, dropping three consecutive bouts since knocking out Ronda Rousey to claim the 135 pound title at UFC 193. A fourth consecutive loss could have spelled the end of Holm’s UFC career and certainly would’ve at least meant the end of her title aspirations. But Holm had other ideas.
After a tepid first two rounds, which the lack of action at one point prompted referee Marc Goddard to warn both fighters for timidity, the third round saw Holm stop Correia with a sniper-shot left high kick. Just moments before the knockout blow, Correia had been trying to goad Holm into a brawl with taunting to no avail and in the post-fight press conference, Holm explained that her entire game plan was to avoid a messy brawl with Correia.
“One of my goals for this fight was to not let it look messy,” Holm said. “A lot of times that’s her style, she wants to get in and make it a brawl and make it look messy. I didn’t want it to look messy, I wanted it to be clean.
“I wanted to pick a clean shot. I wanted to do it right and the game plan was not to rush anything. We knew the crowd might boo because it’s the type of game plan that the crowd might boo and as soon as I heard that I thought, ‘I’m the one in here fighting, I’m gonna stick to the game plan and pick the right shot.’”
And pick the right shot she did. Holm is known for her trademark left high kick, such that before their bout, Rousey insisted that it was Holm’s only weapon and that there was no way she would be finished by it. Rousey was famously wrong and though Correia should have been aware of the weapon, she too was finished by it.
Holm attributes the success she’s had with landing her most dangerous strike to proper timing and listening to her coaches, something she believes she’s gotten away from to her detriment in recent outing.
“I wanted to pick the right kick at the right time and I wanted to listen to my team and what they were coaching me to do,” Holm said. “They saw it open and they called it. That’s one of the things I wanted to do, listen to my team. I failed to do that my last two fights and it cost me the fights. I thought, ‘Tonight, I’m just listening to them. That’s what I’m gonna do. They’re watching it from the outside and I’ll listen to what they say.’”
With results like tonight’s, it’s hard to argue against doing just that. But spectacular KO or not, Holm says she’s just happy to be back on the winning track after 19 months of losing.
“It felt amazing,” Holm said. “It’s been a long time.”