Coming up on November 15th in Melbourne, Australia, former women’s world boxing champion Holly Holm faces Ronda Rousey in Mixed Martial Arts as she attempts to wrest the UFC’s Female Bantamweight championship from the most dominant champion operating right now in the sport of MMA
A brief look at the lines at the sport books and you can see Holm is not being given much of a shot in most circles. Rousey is a strong (-1700) favorite, with Holm returning at (+1100), and the five round bout has an over/under at 1 ½, with the over paying (+325) and the under at (-400). Those numbers show the books giving Holm virtually no chance of even extending Rousey into the deeper rounds.
Holm left boxing to pursue an MMA with a career record of 32 wins, 2 losses and 3 draws. Her career was formed in the Southwest, and she captured the WBA and WBC Female world titles in March of 2007 with a win over Ann Saccurato. She campaigned at Super Lightweight, winning titles in that weight class, and she faced a steady diet of top female fighters, including the undefeated fighters Duda Yankovich (11-0) and Mary Joe Saunders (25-0), whom she fought twice.
In December of 2011 Holm was knocked out by Anne Sophie Mathis in a sequence that despite its brutality, shows the mettle Holm is made of. Earlier in 2011, Holm had started her fledgling MMA career, fight twice and going (2-0). The loss to Mathis showed her she needed to be focused to compete at the highest level, and she put her MMA career on hold to pursue a re-match with Mathis. In September of 2012, she defeated Mathis in their second encounter with a pair of World welterweight titles on the line. Holm stayed in boxing long enough to defend the belts twice, against tough Diana Prazak (11-1) and Mary McGee (20-1). It was at this point that she retired with her fine 33 wins 2 losses and 3 draws.
Holm has since run her MMA record to (9-0), and if she is able to do the improbable and defeat Rousey, Holm will become a truly historic figure in combat sports. With the sport of boxing so advanced and specialized, it is unlikely that any MMA champion will ever refine their boxing game to a world championship level. Going from boxing to MMA for a male is likely just as impossible, since the specialization of the MMA game on the ground gives boxers a considerable weakness. Indeed, after Holm it may never happen again on the female side either.
And it is unlikely that Holm will get the job done this coming November 15th. But should Holm pull of a win against Rousey, she will be the first and likely only ever cross-over, two sport world champion in combat sport history, and just the possibility is exciting for all of women’s sports in the 21st century.