UFC Fight Island 4’s Holly Holm: “I’m ranked at the top for a reason”

Former women’s bantamweight champion Holly Holm still feels she has something to prove inside the octagon. Or, more accurately, at 38, she wants people to believe in her.

It’s been over four years since Holm (13-5) last held gold in the UFC. She’s fought for titles twice since then, once at bantamweight, once at featherweight, and come up short on both occasions. As her 39th birthday approaches, “The Preacher’s Daughter” admits that she’s already facing questions about her age, and retirement.

She has an answer for those questions, mind you. “I’m still ranked right up at the top for a reason,” Holm said during Wednesday’s UFC Fight Island 4 media day. “What I want to do is make that belief, I want people to believe in me.” And to do so, she needs the best performance possible.

Part of finding the best performance is maintaining the fire, and not letting her losses define her.

“Not just in MMA but in boxing, I’ve been knocked out cold and had to come back,” said Holm, calling it “one of the hardest things to deal with.” It’s a situation that brings about self-doubt, and a lot of things fighters don’t want to deal with, Holm admitted.

“There’s a lot of demons you can battle in your own mind. I’m a firm believer in the fact that you can feed yourself whatever motivation you want,” she continued. “If you keep questioning yourself, then it’s going to come out in your performance. If you don’t believe in yourself, and you’re the one who has to go in there and fight, then how do you think you’re going to win?”

“You always have to believe you can do it. If there’s ever a time I don’t think I can do it, is the day that I need to retire. Setbacks don’t necessarily need that it’s done,” Holm added.

Heading into her main event bout with Irene Aldana this weekend, Holm is coming off a win over Raquel Pennington. Coincidentally, it was a win over Pennington that kicked off her original run in the UFC, which led to bantamweight gold. There’s been plenty of talk about Aldana earning a title shot with a win over Holm — but of course, that goes both ways. Holm could very well find herself paired up with Amanda Nunes again with a big showing.

“All I can do is do my best to fight, and see what doors open for me,” said Holm, who recognizes that “the better I do in the fight, that’s more promising for a title shot after that.” However, she’s not about to look past Aldana. “I truly feel that I’m getting her at her best game, at her A-game. So I need to be ready for that, and I am ready for it.”

Watch the full UFC Fight Island 4 virtual media day scrum with Holly Holm above.