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Mike Winkeljohn: Holly Holm ‘exactly the opposite’ from Ronda Rousey after suffering KO loss

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Esther Lin, MMA Fighting

If there’s one message Holly Holm’s head coach Mike Winkeljohn wants to share following her loss to Amanda Nunes, it’s that she will be back.

Holm suffered the first knockout loss of her mixed martial arts career this past weekend when she got caught with a head kick late in the opening round of her fight against Nunes at UFC 239.

It was obviously a disappointing end for the former champion as she sought to reclaim the title she lost back in 2016. Two days after the fight ended, Holm was already back in the gym sitting down alongside Winkeljohn to break down the footage to pick apart her performance.

“I figured Amanda would game plan counter punching Holly because Holly has a tendency as of late to really lunge and people have been catching her when she lunges, that kind of thing. So they were both waiting for each other,” Winkeljohn said when speaking to MMA Fighting. “I know it didn’t seem like a lot of action but there were a lot of little things going on there, jockeying for position, getting each other’s timing.

“Holly told me, we watched tape yesterday, she said she felt good. She was getting her timing and working but then she hesitated on a kick. She had done it earlier, which was a mistake and she said she wishes she hadn’t have done that. She told herself that starting to throw a kick and deciding to stop, that was stupid, don’t do it again, don’t get caught. And then she got caught. No excuses. Amanda kicks hard. She hits hard. She’s a scary person and that’s incredible.”

The fact that Holm was back in the gym to analyze her performance just days after the loss says a lot about her character, which is why Winkeljohn has no doubt she will happily begin the climb back up the ladder to title contention with her next fight.

From the early days in her boxing career to her current status as one of the top fighters in the UFC, Holm has never backed down from a challenge and if anything her head coach believes this will only serve to fire her up even more.

“I’ve always known that about Holly. She always jumps back on the horse,” Winkeljohn said. “She had a boxing match where she got knocked out years and years ago by a girl named Anne Mathis, who is the hardest puncher she ever fought. Everybody said she should retire and I looked at her and said you’re going to rematch her and you’re going to beat her up. That was it. That was the moment Holly said ‘of course’ and that’s when I knew that about Holly.

“Same thing here. Same frame of mind, Holly wants it back. She knows she made a mistake. When you make mistakes against someone like Amanda, Amanda capitalized on it. She took that mistake and ran with it.”

Winkeljohn says Holm’s mentality off a loss is one of the attributes that makes her such an incredibly easy fighter to coach while also serving as a shining example to younger athletes on how to deal with adversity.

It’s a much different approach than what he witnessed after Holm won her UFC title with a stunning second round knockout against Ronda Rousey back in 2015.

“Holly’s going to be back. She’s definitely one of the fighters in the gym. She works harder than anybody else. She has the desire and the passion, which is higher than anybody in the gym,” Winkeljohn said.

“She’s exactly the opposite of what Ronda Rousey did after Holly knocked her out. Ronda, her whole world was over and all these bad things, which is not what young ladies or anybody needs to hear in this world. S—t happens. When bad things happen, what makes you great is your ability to deal with it and go forward. That’s what Holly has decided to do. That’s what she’s done her whole life and she will go forward.”