She’s coming to Brooklyn for a belt.
Holly Holm was on top of the world in Nov. 2015. She’d just upset Ronda Rousey for the Ultimate Fighting Championship bantamweight title and was at, she thought, the top of her game.
But Holm dropped her next two fights and now the former champ is slated to take on Germaine de Randamie at UFC 208 at Barclays Center on Feb. 11 for the inaugural female featherweight title.
And she doesn’t plan on dropping another match.
“I can’t have a third loss,” Holm said on Dec. 16 during a visit to Barclays Center when tickets went on sale to the public. “I’d never had two losses in a row and in my mind, I just can’t let it happen.”
Of course, getting back on track is a challenge and Holm is facing a very particular obstacle before she steps into the octagon next year. The new title will be fought at 145-pounds — 10 pounds heavier than her usual fighting weight, and the extra muscle could change her game.
“It’s kind of one of those things where it’ll be a different feel,” Holm said. “I was talking with my coach and saying, you know, ‘Germaine’s going to be a tough fight because she’ll be stronger at 145.’ And he goes, ‘Yeah, so will you.’ ”
Holm didn’t have to dig particularly deep to find inspiration heading into this fight. These last two losses were the first of her career and losing her championship completely shifted Holm’s focus. She’s never worked harder, simply because she’s never wanted something quite as much.
“I didn’t think I’d be in this spot right now,” Holm said. “So I just want to make the most of it. I don’t want to let it pass me by.”
Holm was recently rumored to be lined up for a fight against Cris “Cyborg” Justino — who has campaigned for a 145-pound weight class in the past — but she’s not particularly concerned with her opponent. She’s going to hit whoever she faces as hard as she can.
She’s also trying to erase the memories of the last few months and while opening up a new weight class is historic, Holm is focused on what this matchup can do for her and her own legacy in the octagon.
“I tend to be selfish with my ways and my career,” Holm said. “A lot of people ask ‘What do you think this will do for women’s fighting?’ and I don’t know. All I know is that I want to win for me and my team.”
Holm has a big-time opportunity in front of her next year. A win in Brooklyn would make her just the fourth fighter in UFC history to win titles in multiple weight classes.
As far as Holm is concerned, this is simply the first step. She’s got plenty of goals — including a seemingly-inevitable Rousey rematch and getting her 135-pound belt back — but first Holm has to win in Brooklyn.
“It’s going to haunt my thoughts every day, every night for the next two months,” she said. “It’s exciting to have a fight, but it’s also one of those things where you realize it’s crunch time. It’s go time.”