There is much more to Holly Holm than meets the eye.
You would think the sports world would have learned by now not to underestimate the UFC women’s bantamweight champion. It was only two weeks ago that she pulled off the biggest upset in MMA history by knocking out Ronda Rousey in front of 56,000-plus at Etihad Stadium in Melbourne.
Even after Holm’s historic performance at UFC 193, the MMA world pondered what the future of women’s MMA would look like without Rousey at the helm. The television appearances, world tour press conferences, and landing a soccer stadium as a venue — all of it was because of Rousey.
There is no question that she has attained a celebrity status that far surpasses any other fighter in MMA history. She was a polarizing champion, who was brutally honest to a fault. Rarely did anything ever feel off-limits in a Rousey interview. The woman could spin headlines in her sleep.
Now enters a significantly more reserved champion in Holm, who has taken on the challenge of picking up the mantle left by Rousey. As a champion, the preacher’s daughter is shedding her banal image and proving to the world that you can be full of life and personality, while also remaining a good role model.
Many were concerned that women’s MMA would fall back to the shadows without Rousey, but one could make the argument that things have continued to trend upward even without the UFC’s biggest star leading the way. A big part of the reason for that is tremendous marketing by the UFC. You would think the promotion had a post-Rousey plan in place all along.
Holm has seemingly soared to superstardom overnight with continued live appearances at sporting events and talk shows. TMZ cameras recently caught up with the champ outside of the Staples Center in Los Angeles signing autographs after attending a Clippers basketball game with movie star Jamie Foxx.
Holm also met up with retired boxing legend Floyd Mayweather, who she called the “greatest of all time.”
— T-Mac (@TriumphETP) November 20, 2015
— Floyd Mayweather (@FloydMayweather) November 23, 2015
The celebrity encounters continued at a star-filled viewing party in Las Vegas for the pay-per-view boxing match between Canelo Alvarez and Miguel Cotto. Holm ran into hip-hop legend Jay Z, along with his beautiful wife, what’s-her-name.
“I met Jay-Z, and he says, ‘This is my wife.’ And I say, ‘Oh, hi, what is your name?’ Because that’s what I do when I meet someone’s wife,” Holm said, during an interview with Albuquerque’s KRQE News. “As I’m shaking her hand, I’m thinking: Why did I just say that? Why did I just say that, it’s Beyoncé. And Jay-Z is asking me about the fight and I can’t even focus on what he’s saying because I just put my foot in my mouth.”
Flying around in a private jet and stumbling over your words in the presence of celebrities seems like a good problem to have. One thing is certain: Holm’s star status has grown significantly.
It’ll be interesting to see if she stays in the limelight once the media storm subsides. Everything is crazy right now because she’s fresh off her win over Rousey. What about a few months from now?
Are we looking at a prominent figure in the UFC, capable of headlining pay-per-view cards and pulling in decent numbers, or as time passes in this Cinderella story, will everything simply revert back to the way it was?
Leading into UFC 193, Rousey said she didn’t believe Holm could handle the pressure of the spotlight. She said “nobody’s ready” for all of the obligations her life as a champion entailed.
So far, so good for Holly Holm.