July 25, 2016

UFC on FOX 20: Criticism of Holly Holm For Not Waiting Around For Rousey Is Unwarranted

By Adam Martin

Despite the media constantly questioning Holly Holm and her camp's decision not to wait around for Ronda Rousey, the former UFC Women's Bantamweight Champion made the correct call in not waiting around for Rousey and fighting instead.

After her shocking upset KO win over Rousey at UFC 193 last November, most figured a rematch between Holm and Rousey would be a massive box-office hit. But Holm damaged Rousey badly in that fight -- Rousey famously said she couldn't even bite an apple for a few months after the fight -- and at the time, there was no guarantee that Rousey would be back quickly.

Still, most figured the rematch between Holm and Rousey made sense for UFC 200. Holm and her manager, Lenny Fresquez, disagreed. To Holm and her camp, there was no reason to wait around for Rousey when Holm could fight and make money in the meantime. And so Holm took a fight against Miesha Tate at UFC 196 this past March.

Holm ended up losing that fight in the waning minutes of the fifth round, losing her title in the process, and she was hounded by the media afterwards for not waiting for Rousey and instead taking a risky fight with Tate. But Holm also made a $500,000 purse for that bout, plus pay-per-view points as a champion fighting in the co-main event. Even though she lost, that was money Holm would never have seen had she sat around waiting for Rousey instead of fighting.

While the loss to Tate ruined the lustre of the Rousey rematch, most expected Holm to get an immediate rematch with Tate. Instead, Tate chose Amanda Nunes as her opponent, and Nunes brutally finished Tate in the first round at UFC 200. Holm, instead of fighting Tate for the belt (even though she was deserving of an immediate rematch considering how the first fight went), got a high-risk, low-reward matchup with Valentina Shevchenko at UFC on FOX 20.

Like the Tate fight, Holm was a big favorite to beat Shevchenko, but like the Tate fight, she lost, and now Holm is on a two-fight losing streak. She got paid to fight Shevchenko, and based on her UFC 196 payout, it's likely Holm did very well for her purse as a non-champion fighting on FOX, even without any PPV points. But immediately after the fight, the media was already questioning Holm and her decision not to wait for Rousey.

Holly Holm is a prizefighter, and prizefighters have to fight to make money. Holm could have chosen to wait for Rousey, but it's been nine months since they fought at UFC 193, and Rousey still hasn't even announced her return to the cage. That means Holm would have been basically unemployed for nine months, and while you can argue it would be a delayed payday, since the Rousey rematch would have been huge, there's a problem with that line of thinking, and that's that there is no guarantee Rousey is even going to return to MMA.

Considering how soundly Holm beat Rousey, there was a good chance that Rousey, who made millions and millions during her championship run, might not have returned had Holm been the champion. Sure, now it looks like Rousey is going to come back and fight Nunes, potentially
giving the new champion a big payday, but there's no way to know for sure if Rousey had any intentions of fighting Holm again.

It's easy to look back and say that Holm, now 0-2 since the win over Rousey, made a mistake in not waiting around, but even with the two losses, Holm still made a lot of money, she still got more cage experience -- people forget Holm is still relatively new to MMA -- and she still could fight Rousey down the road, even without a title on the line.

When the media criticizes other fighters for not fighting enough, it seems ridiculous that Holm is criticized for fighting too much instead of sitting around and waiting for another fighter to be ready to fight her again. After all, it's her career, and while in hindsight it doesn't look like the best financial decision to take dangerous fights with Tate and Shevchenko, Holm has maintained all along that she's content with her decision to keep fighting, despite media members trying to get her to say she regrets it.

Holm is on a two-fight losing streak and her win over Rousey seems like ages ago, but based on what we know about Holm, don't expect her to say that she regrets anything, because in her mind, she made the right call. And considering it's been almost a year now and Rousey still hasn't fought again, it looks like she indeed made the right decision.

UFC on FOX 20
Holly Holm vs. Valentina Shevchenko: Valentina Shevchenko def. Holly Holm via unanimous decision (49-46, 49-46, 49-46).

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UFC on Fox 20: Holm vs. Shevchenko took place on July 23, 2016 at United Center in Chicago, Illinois.

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