Holly Holm dealing with expectations and a Rousey future

Holly Holm dealing with expectations and a Rousey future
Holly Holm, right, punches Anne Sophie Mathis during an IBA and WBAN welterweight title fight in New Mexico in 2011. (Greg Sorber / Associated Press)

Holly Holm came to Wednesday's public workout in Torrance essentially alone, accompanied only by her manager and his wife.

She said she told her husband to remain at home in New Mexico and finish his work week rather than accompany her throughout the entire fight week and "stressing me out" doing work via telephone.


Holm was discussing her solitary stand heading into her Saturday night co-main event of the Ultimate Fighting Championship program at Staples Center when a ruckus erupted after another fighter entered the room that Holm occupied.

This was something beyond the hubby's work phone call.

It was Ronda Rousey, the unbeaten bantamweight champion who will defend her belt in the main event against No. 1-ranked Cat Zingano.

A former boxing champion with kickboxing experience, the 33-year-old Holm (7-0 in mixed martial arts) will take on 2013 "The Ultimate Fighter" runner-up Raquel Pennington on Saturday.

Some believe Holm is Rousey's stiffest challenger under UFC contract, and victories by both could set up a summer showdown.

Glancing at Rousey upon her entrance, Holm said it was "very flattering," that Rousey has mentioned Holm as her possible next opponent.

"I definitely want to get in and prove myself," Holm said. "I want that fight, obviously, who wouldn't? If they say let's do it, I say let's do it."

First comes the matter of Pennington, whose all-around skills could test Holm's interest in establishing herself as something more than a striker with alarming knockout power.

"I get nervous, worked up for every fight, it doesn't matter who I'm fighting," Holm said. "This has a little more attention, carries a little more weight.

"I feel a little bit like I'm in a lose-lose. The expectations are so high … like going to a movie everyone's talked about and you're like, 'It's not that great … .'

"That is probably the hardest thing to focus on — fighting my fight and not feeling like I have to do this thing that takes me out of my comfort zone. I want to do what I always do: perform, go by the game plan. If people like it, they like it. I'm there to fight."

Pennington wanted Holm before she suffered a herniated disc, then asked the UFC to keep her as Holm's opponent after the injury layoff.

"With all this expectation, people are saying, 'Oh, you're just going to knock her out,' " Holm said. "She's never been finished, so that's a lot to say."