Las Vegas, NV — Former women’s bantamweight champion Holly Holm went through a trying time in the build-up to UFC 246 over the weekend. It’s something she kept close to her chest ahead of the fight, lest she be excused of making excuses.
Given what we know now, it would be hard to fault her for pulling out of her rematch with Raquel Pennington, frankly. Just weeks out from the fight, Holm’s father was hospitalized.
“My father had a stroke about three and a half weeks ago,” Holm told reporters including Cageside Press at the UFC 246 post-fight press conference. “He’s doing great, so that’s what we’re pumped about. But it’s definitely been a balance.”
A balancing act, and a fight that was not without its share of critics, including UFC President Dana White, who lamented that Holm and Pennington spent much of the fight stalled along the fence.
Holm understands the criticism, but frankly, it seems like she’s her own worst critic.
“Yes it feels good to win, but I always want more,” she said backstage at the T-Mobile Arena. “I just feel like I could have done a lot from every situation in this fight. I’ve learned a lot since our first fight. Our first fight was kind of a little bit more just like back-and-forth.”
This time around, she continued, “I was able to kind of just control the pace of the fight, but I should have done it in any way I wanted to. I felt comfortable enough to do it anywhere, and I should have done better at that.”
Fans in attendance, eagerly awaiting the return of Conor McGregor, let their voices be heard as the fight progressed and the action, frankly, did not. Asked whether she heard their complaints at the time, Holm said that “I’ve heard boos. I didn’t hear much, not that I didn’t hear a couple.”
“Usually the people that are booing aren’t the ones that actually do this for a job, so it really doesn’t bother me, you know? I don’t understand everything that everybody does in their job, so I’m not going to criticize it,” she explained. “It doesn’t bother me, it really doesn’t. They don’t have to boo me. Trust me, at the end of the day, I’m going to want to go back and be like ‘you know what, I could have done this better, I could have done that better, I could have done more.'”
She fights for herself, Holm added, and to make those around her proud of her. “I love that I have fans, and I always want to give them the best show that I can, but sometimes I fall short of that. It just keeps me driven to want to move forward and keep getting better.”
Holm, of course, is looking to work her way back to a title shot. Asked about plotting a course to get there, Holm responded by saying that “when I say I want a title shot — whatever path it is to get there. That’s the goal. When I first started MMA, everybody said ‘what are you doing?’ And it’s like ‘Well, I want to be a champion in both, boxing and MMA. And I want to do it.'”
The plan now is to take constructive criticism, improve, and “try and do more to capitalize next time.” With enough effort, Holm could find herself in another rematch — with Amanda Nunes.
Watch the full UFC 246 post-fight press conference with Holly Holm above!