Bantamweight champion Holly Holm will return to fight before July’s planned rematch with Ronda Rousey, UFC President Dana White said Wednesday.
White didn’t elaborate beyond telling the crew of “UFC Tonight” on Fox Sports 1 that, “Holly Holm will fight before she fights Ronda again.”
It’s believed former title challenger Miesha Tate is the favorite to fight Holm. Tate was in line to fight Rousey for a third time before the UFC surprisingly selected Holm as the opponent. And Holm’s manager said previously that Holm wants the best possible challenger, naming Tate as that fighter.
Holm taking a bout in the interim is a change from the course White said he planned last month, when he told The Times the anticipated Holm-Rousey women’s bantamweight title fight would be at UFC 200 July 9 at the new arena in Las Vegas.
Asked about the manager’s wishes then, White said, “Yeah, I really care what he thinks.”
But this week, Holm signed a multi-fight, multimillion-dollar contract extension with the UFC, and an official close to those talks said an interim fight for Holm was possible.
The UFC has not announced a site or main event for a March 5 UFC 197 card, but there has been speculation the card could land in Las Vegas.
Former boxing world champion Holm (10-0) stunned Venice’s Rousey (12-1) in Australia, dominating her in stand-up fighting before knocking out Rousey by second-round leg kick in November.
All along, Holm and her manager, Lenny Fresquez, sought to avoid the extended wait for Rousey, who will film a remake of “Roadhouse” in Patrick Swayze’s role of the bar bouncer before the rematch.
It was announced Tuesday that Rousey will also host NBC’s “Saturday Night Live” Jan. 23 with musical guest Selena Gomez.
Fresquez previously said the effects of Rousey’s one-sided loss could also lead her to delay the rematch.
White told Fox Sports 1, “You will see Ronda Rousey fight again. She’s dedicated the last three years to working hard, fighting, promoting and taking the UFC to the next level. She’s taking some well-deserved time off. But you’ll see her fight again.”