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Holly Holm open to fighting for 135 or 145 titles if right opportunity knocks

In hindsight, Holly Holm’s not afraid to admit she felt the pressure.

Holm had lost three straight fights going into her UFC Fight Night 111 main event against Bethe Correia on June 17 in Singapore, and knew that another loss would mean dire consequences.

“It was a new spot I had never been in,” Holm said on Monday’s edition of The MMA Hour. “I guess going into this fight I just told myself there’s not even an option to lose this fight, Holly. Not even an option. You’re just going to go in there and you’re going do it and I didn’t even put anything else in my head.”

The powers of self-belief paid dividends, as the former UFC bantamweight champion and three-weight-class world boxing champ knocked out Correia in the third round.

But despite the pressure she placed on herself, the 35-year-old Holm said she never let the thought of retirement enter her brain, win or lose.

“I still am really passionate about fighting, so no,” she said. “I want to fight as long as I’m passionate about it, so as long as I have the opportunity I’m going to keep fighting.”

Which is good, because Holm still has plenty of options. With Ronda Rousey and Miesha Tate both out of the picture, a shot at the winner of the UFC 213 fight between champion Amanda Nunes and challenger Valentina Shevchenko isn’t exactly as far-fetched as you might think, given Holm is more of a drawing card than the rest of the remaining contenders.

“It would be cool to fight for the belt but, you know, if it happens it happens,” Holm said. “I’m just kind of curious to see how the next fight goes in a couple weeks and then just kind of go from there. I’d definitely love to fight for the belt again, I think that would be awesome, but I definitely know that it would have to be an opportunity presented to me and we’ll see if that happens.”

Featherweight remains an option as well, as, Cris Cyborg gets set to meet Tonya Evinger to fill the vacant 145-pound belt at UFC 214. Holm had lost a highly controversial bout at UFC 208 to Germaine de Randamie to crown the first champion. Holm didn’t want to definitively comment on the UFC recently stripping GDR of the belt because she doesn’t have all the facts. But she does say she’s open to fighting at 145 again, so long as she doesn’t end up perpetually bouncing between the two classes.

“I’m one of those, I could fight at either weight class,” Holm said. “But I don’t one to be, go every other [fight], 35, 45, 35, 45. Going to 35 I always try to walk around as light as I can. I walk around 149, 148, before the cut the last week that’s almost what I’d be weighing in at 145. I definitely wouldn’t want to be bouncing around every fight. I’m open to both, but I don’t want to be on the fence all the time.”

Of course, all this talk would be moot if Holm had lost to Correia. She used a patient strategy to against her hotheaded foe, waiting out both her opponent and the crowd’s restlessness to seize the right moment.

“I heard the boos but actually we talked about it in the locker room and my coaches were saying even if the crowd boos Holly, she’s going to be probably waiting to engage me coming in, it’s okay, its just part of the game plan. The whole plan is to go with what we wanted to do and the whole thing worked out kind of exactly how we thought. So it didn’t bother me, as soon as I heard it I thought, well, we figured that was going to happen, but, I’m going to take my shots as they come, the crowd will start booing eventually because we have a plan, so, it didn’t bother me.”

The patience paid off in the third, when Holm threw a perfectly executed question mark kick for the knockout.

“Doing that kick is something that actually we’ve been working on,” Holm said. “I can’t tell you how many reps we did it. It was just something we knew would be able to work in a fight. It’s something we’ve been working on not just in training camp but over the last year so I love being able to have a win in that fashion.”

As hard as it may be to believe, the finish actually marked Holm’s first victory since her already legendary knockout of Rousey to win the bantamweight title back at UFC 193. Holm admits it was good to get that monkey off her back.

“There’s been an ache in my gut for a year and a half,” Holm said. “And to finally just be able to take a deep breath and just feel that reward is huge. Like I said I always want to do better but it was nice just to be able to, not only for me but for my team, to give that happiness for them. There’s so much that they’ve put in and so much time they’ve invested in me that I really want to give back to them to, you know? I want to be able to have them feel that victory.”

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