Opinion: Boxer Holly Holm’s Permanent Move To MMA
By Jesse Heitz
Women’s MMA already has great grapplers in the likes of “Rowdy” Ronda Rousey, Marloes Coenen, Shayna Baszler, Sara McCann, Rosi Sexton, Jessica Aguilar, Megumi Fujii, and Alexis Davis. It also has some very good strikers in Cristiane “Cyborg” Santos, Liz Carmouche, and Cat Zingano. However, it appears that something big is in the works.
It cannot be doubted that women’s MMA has gotten a little more exciting with the news that the world’s top female boxer, Holly Holm, is planning to wrap up her professional boxing career and pursue MMA full-time. Holm, who is an 18-time world champion in the “sweet science” and currently holds: the World Boxing Federation (WBF) Female World Light Welterweight Championship, the WBF Female World Welterweight Championship, and the Women Boxing Archive Network (WBAN) World Welterweight Championship.
In an April 16th USA Today article, Holm discussed her planned farewell to boxing and subsequent move to MMA by stating,
“I sleep good at night knowing that I’ve challenged myself over my career rather than just take what’s supposed to be easy. I feel like my passion’s just going to MMA.”
Her coach at famed Jackson’s MMA, Mike Winkeljohn, talked about the future Holm has awaiting her in the rapidly growing world of women’s MMA by stating,
“We are going forward with Holly’s MMA career and there’s nobody better than (promoter) Lenny Fresquez to take us to that next level. I found it hard to bounce back and forth between MMA and boxing. Holly is focused. Expect the best Holly ever. Her future is bright.”
We have undoubtedly seen our fare share of high-profile boxers come to MMA only to find little success. We’ve seen the likes of James Toney and Ray Mercer both try their hands at MMA. Mercer went 1-1, dropping a submission loss to Kimbo Slice and picking up a knockout win against former UFC Heavyweight Champion, Tim Sylvia. Who could forgot Toney’ one-and-done thrashing at the hands of Randy Couture?
However, Holly Holm, may very well break that trend. She’s still in her athletic prime, and given the three straps she has around her waist, she’s very much still in her boxing prime. Additionally, she’s not a MMA rookie. Granted she’s no veteran either, but she’s 3-0 all coming via (T)KO, not much farther behind Rousey when she was catapulted into the spotlight.
People often talk at length about the key to defeating boxers is chopping down their legs, given that she even has some kickboxing experience, I don’t expect that to be a terrible issue, but then again in the fight game anything can and usually does happen. Yet, the trouble spot that we might very well see is her proficiency in wrestling and submissions. The women mentioned at the beginning of this article are veritable sharks when the fight hits the canvas, and a vast majority of them fight at 135 pounds, which is Holm’s current fighting weight.
I don’t have the answers on whether or not Holm can or will develop into the next big thing in women’s MMA. What I can say is that given her fighting pedigree, there’s definitely a solid chance. At the very least, it will be very interesting to see the best female boxer in the world give big league MMA a try while still in her prime.