It was a decisive night for Holly Holm in Singapore, as she dispatched of Bethe Correia to snap a three-fight skid at UFC Fight Night 111, but the former UFC bantamweight champion has received some backlash for her final blow.
Holm (11–3) and Correia (10–3–1) held a relatively tentative pace for the first two rounds, before Holm suddenly sprung into life at the half way mark, landing a question mark kick (also known as a Brazilian kick) to drop her South American opponent.
Although visibly hurt, Correia did not fall completely to her back following the attack, as she sat upright, holding her hand in front of her face, as if to signal she was finished. However, veteran referee Marc Goddard had yet to stop the contest, and Holm pursued with; what now seems, an unnecessary left hand. This time, Correia conclusively fell flat on her back.
With Correia evidently signaling ‘no mas’, there was an immediate backlash as to Holm’s decision to strike her already downed opponent, and prompted strict questioning from one journalist at the UFC Singapore post-fight presser.
Holm was quick to retort, comparing the conclusions of boxing fights to the much more unforgiving finishes in MMA.
“For a split second I was waiting for her to fall all the way down,” Holm began to explain to members of the press following her victory. “I had in my head, you know, go for a hammer fist and she was still kind of half way sitting and I thought ‘oh no, I can’t do that punch so I better change it up’ but my very first MMA fight, after I dropped a girl, from my habit in boxing as soon as she hit the ground I walked away to go to my neutral corner, just out of habit, and I’m like ‘oh no’ you’re supposed to still run in and finish them? So, it was definitely one of those things, I know she was down but the ref hasn’t called it yet so I’m going to go in and land another shot.”
Holm discusses Led Zeppelin and going back to her roots
In front of more than 8,000 fans at the Singapore Indoor Stadium, Holm entered the Octagon to legendary Led Zeppelin tune, ‘Black Dog’. It was quite the contrast to Holm’s usual walkout jive, but one which the Jackson-Wink trained athlete narrated as her going back to her roots.
“My brothers and I are all within three and a half years apart, we’re really close, we drove to high school together,” Holm began. “We were all in high school one year together and we’d drive to school, we had this old gold Buick and it had these big bouncy seats in it, and we had three tapes, one was a green tape from the Beastie Boys, and two of them were Led Zeppelin tapes and that was one of the songs that would play when we would be kind of out to go be mischievous, to go cause some problems, go destroy things I guess.
“I actually didn’t tell them that I changed my song, nobody knew except for my team and I just decided I kind of wanted to go old school and just kind of let go, I’ve had three losses in a row, everybody keeps talking about that, you know what, let’s just go to the beginning, I started fighting because I love it and I have fun with it so let’s just go back to that, let’s go back to the roots and I just wanted to associate that with just going out and having a good time, let’s just got let it go.”
Securing her first win since that infamous night in November 2015, where she put an end to the Ronda Rousey fairytale, Holm explained the importance of sticking to her game plan and picking the right shot against an awkward Correia, despite a disparaging crowd.
“One of my goals for this fight was to not let it look messy, a lot of times that’s her style, she wants to get in and just make a brawl and make it look messy,” analysed Holm. “If you’re landing more shots, I didn’t want it to look messy, I wanted it to be clean and I’m actually not happy with even letting her land a couple of shots in the second round.
“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, it’s the type of game plan the crowd might boo, and we knew that and as soon as I heard it, I just thought I’m the one in here fighting, I’m going to stick to the game plan and I’m going to pick the right shot.”
After a close loss to Germaine De Randamie at UFC 208, Holm elected to move back down to the 135-pound weight class following her failed attempt to capture the featherweight title.
MMAFighting’s Ariel Helwani reported after the event, having spoken to Holm’s manager, that “The Preacher Daughter” and her team were looking at multiple options in both weight classes.
With De Randamie hinting that she may relinquish the title, whilst a new champion is likely to be crowned between Cris Cyborg and Megan Anderson, it is certainly possible that Holm could find herself vying for a championship belt, wherever she decides to fight next.