Ex-UFC champ Holly Holm looks to win a title in a new division on Saturday

Ex-UFC champ Holly Holm looks to win a title in a new division on Saturday
Holly Holm, shown in February 2016, will fight Germaine De Randamie in the main event of UFC 208 on Saturday at Brooklyn’s Barclays Center. (Christina House / For The Times)

In her down time since suffering a broken hand in her second consecutive loss, Holly Holm has resolved she doesn't want to be down any longer.

The former UFC and pro boxing champion produced arguably the most stunning victory in mixed martial arts history 16 months ago by knocking out then-unbeaten women's bantamweight champion Ronda Rousey with a second-round head kick.


But in March, while leading on scorecards, Holm lost her belt by succumbing to a late fifth-round chokehold by Miesha Tate. And then with an opportunity to rise back to title contention, Holm was defeated by Valentina Shevchenko via unanimous decision in July.

"All this hard work, I want to make it worth it," Holm said. "I don't want to only have one big [win]. I don't want my career to be defined by Ronda.

"I didn't want that loss of my belt. It's been driving me to train very hard."

Her opportunity arrives Saturday night in New York when New Mexico's Holm (10-2) meets Dutch kick-boxing champion Germaine de Randamie (6-3) in the main event of UFC 208 at Brooklyn's Barclays Center.

The fight will be for the newly created women's featherweight (145-pound) division that UFC President Dana White has said he created for Cris "Cyborg" Justino, who balked at accepting a fight with Holm and then was found to have submitted a positive drug test for a banned diuretic days before the UFC announced Holm-De Randamie.

Even though Holm's frame and notoriety made her a natural for the debut women's featherweight bout, she had no voice in pushing for it.

"No, the call I got was from my trainer saying, 'Germaine de Randamie, 145. What do you think?'" Holm said. "I said, 'Let's do it.' That was it."

While a decision on potential discipline for "Cyborg" looms and the UFC must also assemble its 145-pound roster of fighters, Holm said, "You've got to start somewhere, like the 135-pound division did with Ronda [in 2013]. So many girls want the opportunity. I guarantee you they can build this division in no time."

Should she defeat De Randamie, Holm also suggested requesting an opportunity to fight to regain the bantamweight belt.

The Saturday bout has the potential to feature compelling stand-up action.

De Randamie has won twice as a UFC women's bantamweight since a loss to current champion Amanda Nunes. Her kick-boxing skill is highly regarded on the European circuit, but De Randamie is less known in the U.S., where the sport operates to a niche audience.

"She comes from a stand-up history. We both do," said Holm, who fought in a handful of pro kick-boxing events before turning to mixed martial arts – which showed in her win against Rousey. "I never put thoughts in my head that a fight is going to go a certain way. We always have to have a Plan A, B and C. I know I'm up against a dangerous fighter. I have my hands full."

Holm's coach, Mike Winkeljohn, has said Holm's knockout of Rousey "broke" the former champion, who subsequently was knocked out in less than a minute by Nunes in her December comeback fight.

Meanwhile, Holm has her own resurrection to manage, admitting, "I'm in a place I've never been."


She's found strength in revisiting how she shrugged off being bloodied and knocked out by boxer Anne Sophie Mathis and won the rematch.

"Everyone around me was so negative, people saying, 'Why don't you just retire? What will you do differently?'" Holm recalled. "My dad told me when people say I should quit, 'That's what they would do … they wouldn't have the nerve to give themselves a chance to go again. That's why you're going to do it and no one else.'

"It's up to me. It doesn't matter what anybody else says. This is not their job. It's going to bother me until the day I die if I don't come back. I could get knocked out again. But if I win again, how awesome is that? …

"When you're starting to make it to the top, you have to start from the bottom. I just went back to the building blocks and [resolved], 'We're going to climb back up this mountain I just went down. … ' I have confidence in my ability now. I just need to perform."

UFC 208

Who: Holly Holm (10-2) vs. Germaine de Randamie (6-3) for new women's featherweight belt.

When: Saturday, 7 p.m. Pacific.

Where: Barclays Center, Brooklyn.

Television: Pay-per-view, $59.95.

Undercard: No. 7 Anderson Silva (33-8) vs. No. 8 Derek Brunson (16-4), middleweights; No. 3 Ronaldo "Jacare" Souza (23-4) vs. No. 13 Tim Boetsch (20-10), middleweights; No. 3 Glover Teixeira (25-5) vs. No. 15 Jared Cannonier (9-1), light-heavyweights.