Highlights of Holly Holm slamming her shin into Ronda Rousey’s jawline will be played for many years to come. On paper, it was the biggest upset in UFC history. Holm, the heralded underdog, climbed the peaks of Everest and dethroned the undefeated women’s bantamweight queen only to be rewarded with a seat on the sidelines.
During an appearance on ESPN’s Mike & Mike, per MMAFighting.com, UFC President Dana White confirmed an immediate rematch was in the works despite Rousey being on a six-month medical suspension:
“I think that if we didn’t make the rematch, me and [UFC CEO] Lorenzo [Fertitta] should probably lose our promoters’ license. Yeah, that fight’s going to happen. I don’t know when, but that’s the fight that will happen. Ronda Rousey has gone undefeated, taken the sport to another level and was beating the best women in the world in 14 seconds or 30 seconds, so she deserves a rematch. Holly agrees she deserves a rematch, and we’ll figure it out.”
What Holm doesn’t agree with is the indefinite wait time.
The bout is rumored for the blockbuster UFC 200 event inside of the newly constructed MGM-AEG Arena in Las Vegas on July 9, 2016. But everything hinges on Rousey’s filming schedule. She is currently in the process of shooting scenes for her role as a CIA agent in the upcoming film Mile 22, co-starring Mark Wahlberg. There is also her starring role in the Road House remake, which tentatively begins filming sometime next year.
Holm would much rather be defending her title instead of putting her career on hold for Rousey, but at the same time, she has never been the type of fighter to rock the boat with boisterous demands. She’ll fight whoever the UFC puts in front of her, whenever they put someone in front of her.
“Nothing’s set in stone so we’ll see how it unfolds,” Holm told FOX Sports. “I’d like to fight sooner than later, but I’ve never in my life said ‘I want to fight this person at this time.’ I don’t do that. I don’t like to wait eight months, but I’m not going to sit here and demand something different. If they give me something sooner, great; if not, then great.”
The UFC is obviously trying to maximize profits with a fight that would undoubtedly be one of the biggest rematches in the company’s history. But at the same time, where does one draw the line between what’s profitable and what’s fair?
Holm, who turns 35 next year, is looking to build a legacy in MMA. Father Time has been known to sneak up on fighters, and with over a decade of professional fighting experience, it makes little sense for Holm to waste precious time sitting on the sidelines.
Not to mention, there are plenty uncertainties surrounding the extensive wait time. Rousey’s filming could extend into training camp or perhaps even the actual fight itself. Given the lopsided nature of the first fight, there should be genuine concern for Rousey’s preparation and focus headed into an immediate rematch.
Holm woman-handled Rousey in every aspect of fighting. Can Rousey really turn things around by July while also dealing with other extraneous obligations?
Historically, the end result doesn’t usually pan out well for former champions in immediate rematches. Anderson Silva, B.J. Penn and Andrei Arlovski were all defeated by their successors in back-to-back outings. Rousey, who appeared absolutely dumbfounded by Holm’s southpaw tactics, could just as easily be headed down the same path of immediate disappointment.
A fight featuring Holm and any other bantamweight contender other than Rousey would merely serve as an appetizer that could evolve into an even bigger main course meal. Hardcore fans have been aware of Holm’s exceptional talent for years, but imagine the reaction from casual fans and the mainstream media if Holm went out and defeated a top contender like Miesha Tate as well.
It would put even more eyes on the rematch.
There would certainly be some risk involved as Tate could potentially beat Holm and ruin the UFC’s plans. However, one could argue the same risk is involved by stowing Holm away on the sidelines for so long, especially where unforeseen injuries in training or Rousey’s film schedule could potentially drive the fight back even further.
This is the fight game, not the wait-and-see game. Holm shouldn’t be held hostage by Rousey’s movie career and medical suspension. She deserves an opportunity to defend her title.