Yes, Holly Holm is 36 and has suffered defeats in four of her past five UFC fights.
She also authored the signature women’s MMA victory less than three years ago by knocking out Ronda Rousey for the bantamweight title, and her setbacks have come only against UFC champions or title challengers.
“It can seem like a loss erases all that you’ve done, like, ‘Are you done?’” Holm said. “A lot of people have asked that.
“No, I got here, got to that victory for a reason — hard work and dedication — and it doesn’t mean I can’t get back to it.”
That effort begins Saturday night at Chicago’s United Center on the pay-per-view portion of UFC 225 when Holm (11-4) fights Australia’s Invicta Fight Club featherweight champion Megan Anderson (8-2).
The card is headlined by middleweight champion Robert Whittaker’s title-defense rematch against Cuba’s Yoel Romero while Orange County-trained Brazilian Rafael dos Anjos meets Colby Covington for the interim welterweight belt as champion Tyron Woodley recovers from a shoulder injury.
The 6-foot-tall Anderson presents a unique test for the 5-foot-8 Holm, who remains the No. 1-rated contender to champion Amanda Nunes in the bantamweight division after engaging in an entertaining fight-of-the-night unanimous-decision slugfest with featherweight champion Cris Cyborg in late December.
“I just need to believe in my ability and let it go,” said Holm, a former world boxing champion. “Sometimes I overthink things. I know I’m capable of great things. I just need to let it flow. She’s a taller fighter and I’ve only fought one girl who’s been that height, so I’m excited for that different challenge. I’ve trained for it. I’m ready for it.”
Holm is quick to point out, “We’re never promised tomorrow, never promised another fight, even another day,” but says she’s confident she will continue to stand as a prominent performer for the UFC.
“I know there’s a lot that’s happened in my career over the last couple years, from being on the biggest high to the lows of three straight losses,” Holm said. “I know my performances haven’t just been getting beat. I’ve been competitive. I just need to be better at making it count. I know I’m there. I know I’m still competitive and capable, so I do hope I get that chance again to fight for a belt, and then we’ll see what happens.
“Having losses on your record is like an ache in your stomach and the only way to cure it is with a victory. I’m chasing that high.”