Holly Holm scored another decision victory over Raquel Pennington almost five years after their first Octagon duel. But she had to deal with a mixture of emotions leading up to Saturday night’s co-main event at UFC 246 in Las Vegas.
Although Holm was happy with her first win since a failed bid for Amanda Nunes’ bantamweight belt, “The Preacher’s Daughter” said her father, Roger Holm, suffered a stroke weeks before her fight. She made sure to hide it from media and fans.
“My father had a stroke about three and a half week ago,” Holm said at the post-fight press conference. “He’s doing great – that’s what we’re pumped about [laughs], but it’s definitely been a balance.”
The former 135-pound titleholder had a reason for holding back prior to her rematch with Pennington. She believed that revealing her situation pre-fight could lead to people accusing her of making excuses for a possible negative outcome.
“I feel like life happens to anybody, no matter what,” Holm said. “We all have things going on in our lives, and we learn how to balance it. We’re fighters, we have to be able to do that. I’m open talking about it.”
Holm’s second win over Pennington wasn’t the most exciting three-round fight, and the Jackson-Wink talent understands critics of her performance. That said, she sees positive takeaways from the bout – like winning without getting hit.
“I always want to do more, I always want to be more exciting, I want a knockout, and I want to show a performance and all that,” Holm said. “So, obviously, I always look back and wish I could have done this or that. With that being said, she’s also one of those really scrappy fighters and she can kind of make a fight look messy.
“She’ll bang with you, she’ll be in the clinch with you, she’ll go for takedowns, she has a wrestling background. It’s not like all of her wins are by the same thing. She’s kind of all over the place, she’s kind of a threat everywhere.
“One of the positive things is that we were able to take her game away and not let her really get off on that. But, yes, I wanted to do more. If I can be controlling the clinch better, being kind of more damaging with it. We’ll just have to keep going to the drawing board. Yes, it feels good to win, but I always want more.”
The 38-year-old veteran and former boxing and MMA champion wants to get back to the top of the bantamweight division. She adapted to the first rematch of her MMA career, and she vows to do the same if given another chance against “The Lioness” Nunes.
“When I say I want a title shot, it’s whatever path it is to get there,” Holm said. “That’s the goal. When I first started MMA everybody said, ‘What are you doing?,’ and it’s like, well, I wanna be a champion in both boxing and MMA.”