All aboard the Holly Holm MMA hype train!

Fans always wonder what it would be like to have a top-level boxer fight in mixed martial arts. How would Floyd Mayweather do in a fight at 145 pounds against say Frankie Edgar? Mike Tyson has said over the years he would have done MMA instead if it was big back in the day when he fought. How would he have fared in the heavyweight or light heavyweight divisions, assuming he could make light heavyweight?

Well, in the female division of boxing, we have a crossover of perhaps one of the best—if not the best—boxers in recent memory.

Holm is now 3-0 in MMA with all three wins coming by knockout. Of course, the female division of MMA is still in its infancy, much like the men’s side of the sport was years ago. The women are still working their way to providing talented weight divisions that offer as much depth as the men’s divisions.

Holm, the world’s No. 1-ranked female boxer, is already off to a good start with her perfect MMA record through three outings, and each win has been entertaining and a showcase of her amazing striking skills.

Her fight with Katie Merrill last Thursday at Bellator 91 was her first fight back in MMA since 2011, when she ripped into Jan Finney. Although it was her first fight back, Holm didn’t skip a beat and fought a flawless fight. Her strikes, whether it be kicks or punches, were quick and powerful. Every combination she threw was beautifully executed and thoroughly impressive. Holm was vastly bigger than Merrill and made this fight look easy.

That hasn’t just been the case in that one fight either. Every one of her three bouts featured the same blueprint—a striking clinic. The combinations and the speed at which she threw her strikes were great even in the Jan Finney and Christina Domke fights.

Watching each of Holm’s fights, one thing is pretty evident: if you’re going to stand with the 32-2-3 boxer, you better be a fighter straight from Mortal Kombat, because striking with Holm is a terrible idea. A really, really, really terrible idea.

Holm’s leg kicks were even more impressive, however. Sure, I can sit here and say how awesome her hand speed is and how powerful her punches are—she is a boxer after all—but her leg kicks are thrown with bad intentions and taking even just one leg kick seems to be enough to chop down her opponents. Go back and watch Holm’s MMA debut against Domke—which, by the way, she won by leg kick TKO—and pay particular attention to the final blows she throws. Holm knew on that second-to-last leg kick that Domke couldn’t take anymore. And just throughout the fight, you can see each leg kick take a bigger and bigger toll on Domke. Holm has competed in kickboxing, but not to the level you would think when watching her.

Overall, everything about Holm’s striking couldn’t be praised anymore than it already has. Her southpaw stance throws a monkey wrench into any fight plan her opponents can conjure. That will drive them insane, and having to deal with her speed and power behind her right hand makes everything all the more difficult.

Now, if there’s a bad side to accompany the praise, it has to come in the uncertainty of an elite boxer’s abilities on the mat. Holm’s ground game is a huge question mark. In all her fights, Holm has been on the ground for maybe a max of 30 seconds. It was back in her debut against Domke, and it was while Holm was off-balance. Although Holm’s style of  being jittery, having lots of movement and never being flat-footed doesn’t provide many opportunities for her to be caught off-balance, the takedown was fairly easy for Domke to complete. Holm did show some pretty good takedown defense on the second attempt from Domke, countering the takedown with a slight try at a guillotine choke that got Domke thinking of escaping the choke rather than finishing the takedown.

Training at Jackson’s MMA should have surely helped this though. The talent there has probably helped her grow significantly at not only stopping the takedown, but in terms of her overall ground game as well. Jackson’s is a perfect place for someone like Holm, who has a significant amount of potential in MMA just waiting to be cashed in. With coaches like Greg Jackson and Mike Winkeljohn, Holm has the potential be a threat to everybody and anybody in MMA. Although her age may be one of the obstacles facing her—she is 31 years old—if she can get her ground game to even half of the skill of her striking, Holm has a bright future ahead of her against the top names in women’s MMA.

Who knows, maybe one day we could see her fight Ronda Rousey. It would be a pretty even fight in terms of size and strength, and we’ll get to see which of the two—boxing/kickboxing or judo—is better.

Photo: Holly Holm (Bryan Henderson/The MMA Corner)

About The Author

Sal DeRose
Staff Writer

Sal hails from New Jersey and is currently training for his first MMA fight. He hopes to use his knowledge and insight to generate articles that interest and entertain you. Outside of MMA, Sal is a big fan of every other sport. He's a diehard New York sports fan, with the exception of cheering for the Packers.

  • unbeknownst

    Horrible career move to join Bellator. I don’t know when she first signed with them. She hasn’t fought MMA since September of 2011, so I’m not sure if she signed with Bellator before Invicta FC come along. But they rarely do women’s tournaments, or really any WBW fights. She’ll be stuck in the prelims fighting “cans” for her next 5-7 fights.

    However, I hate that every article written about a W135 fighter has to mention Rousey at least once. It would of been great if the author would of painted the picture of imagining Holm fighting Kaufman in what would be a great stand-up battle, against Kaufman who is considered to have the best hands of all the elite 135’ers, and Holm who is the purist woman’s boxer in MMA.

    Heck, after Cyborg cleans out the Invicta 145 division in three fights, I’d like to see her test cut to 140-135 to fight Holm. With the winner maybe…

    • In fairness, Rousey vs Holm is a powerhouse match-up. From a marketability standpoint, it’s off the chart–two of the biggest names ever in women’s sports. Right now, it’s an easy 1-minute armbar finish, but if Holm stays with it she could be a force. It’s almost too bad that she and Kedzie are in the same corner, would have made for a pretty fun fight in itself.

      • unbeknownst

        You got that right, today, Rousey vs. Holm would look like Royce Gracie vs. Art Jimmerson. That’s why it’s pointless to bring the bout with Rousey up, or even Rousey’s name.

        I disagree that Rousey vs. Holm is very marketable. Woman’s boxing is not very marketable in general. I hadn’t heard of Holm before this fight in Bellator. I’m sure there might be more than a few people jazzed about that fight, but I’d have to think that Cyborg and Carano are more marketable in a MMA bout against Rousey.

        • True about Cyborg and Carano, but we’ll as soon see those fights as we will Anderson vs Jones/GSP.