SINGAPORE – Former UFC women’s bantamweight champion Holly Holm had waited nearly two years to get her hand raised.
If she had to wait for the right moment to strike against Bethe Correia (10-3-1 MMA, 4-3-1 UFC), so be it, she said after returning to peak form with a head-kick knockout in the headliner of UFC Fight Night 111.
“The game plan was not to rush anything,” Holm (11-3 MMA, 4-3 UFC) told MMAjunkie after her UFC Fight Pass-streamed win Saturday at Singapore Indoor Stadium in Singapore. “We knew the crowd might boo; it’s the type of game plan the crowd might boo.”
Indeed, the audience signaled its displeasure fairly early in the fight when it became clear both fighters were approaching the main event with more caution than usual. Even referee Marc Goddard intervened to jolt the action, warning the pair for timidity.
But to Holm, the need to put on a show was outweighed by the one to be patient and seize the right opportunity, not just the first one that arrived.
“As soon as I heard it, I just thought, ‘You know what, 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,’” she said.
As it turned out, that came early in the third round when Correia got impatient and started taunting Holm, looking to engage in a brawl. It was a moment for which Holm had prepared, and soon after, she launched the fight-ending kick, which set up her first win since a shocking knockout of Ronda Rousey in November 2015.
Asked whether Correia’s taunting prompted her to seek revenge, Holm said she was unfazed. Yet she still relished the idea of landing that signature move that stung Rousey.
“If I was training to fight me, I’d be like, ‘OK, she has a left kick. Let’s watch out for it,’” Holm said. “It’s one of those things, just that competitive side of me that thinks, ‘You know it’s coming, but I still want to hit you with it.’
“The taunting doesn’t do anything to me. That’s never affected me in any fight I’ve ever had. My whole plan was to stick to my game plan.”
Now, Holm gets to drive a different narrative than the one that followed her into the fight. Before she smacked Correia upside the head, she’d lost three straight fights, losing the women’s bantamweight title and a chance to capture the inaugural women’s featherweight belt in her previous outing. Moving back into the win column means she gets a break from doubts about her viability, and it validates the approach she took to prepare for the fight.
“I really wanted to enjoy this camp, this fight week, and I wanted to remind myself over and over that I do this because I love it,” she said. “A lot of people keep asking me, ‘What are you going to do now? You’re on a three-fight losing streak – what are you going to do now?’ It doesn’t really matter what everybody thinks I’m going to do. I started fighting because I love it and I’m passionate about it, and that was the reminder here. I’m going to be me. I’m the one who’s getting in there and fighting, anyway.”
The crowd might not have liked every moment of her effort, but things turned out just fine. As for what comes next, she isn’t too worried about it.
“As far as what’s next for me, I see a beer and some french fries, and a beautiful view over Singapore at the hotel,” Holm said.