Holly Holm is back in title contention for the UFC’s women’s bantamweight division after knocking out Bethe Correia with a brutal head kick at last weekend’s (Sat., June 17, 2017) UFC Fight Night 111 from Singapore.
With the win, Holm moved up to number two in the rankings even though she had not won a fight since November 2015 when she used the same left high kick to finish Ronda Rousey to win the title and shock the world in the main event of the now-historic UFC 193.
After that, Holm (11-3) lost three consecutive times to the likes of Miesha Tate, Valentina Shevchenko and Germaine de Randamie, and had not backflipped inside the octagon for almost two years.
Before Saturday’s card, Holm hadn’t fought at 135 pounds since July 23, 2016. She was outclassed by number one-ranked Shevchenko and then went on to lose a decision for the women’s featherweight strap to de Randamie.
Holm’s rise in the rankings from number five to number two shows a lack of depth in the women’s bantamweight division, since she just knocked out the previous number 11 and has not been active in the weight class.
Check out the latest rankings report courtesy of the UFC:
With Rousey absent for what seems like will be forever and Nunes set to face a woman she barely beat at UFC 196 last year, there just isn’t much in terms of actual legitimate title contenders in the women’s bantamweight division, and we all know the mess that is the newly-instated featherweight division.
Consensus uncrowned champion Cristiane “Cyborg” Justino will face Invicta FC featherweight champion Megan Anderson for the now-vacant belt in the co-main event of July 29’s UFC 214, but after that, there aren’t any fighters, let alone serious threats to the belt, except for maybe Holm because she’s fought in the division before.
Women’s strawweight isn’t much better, with Joanna Jedrzejczyk looking like a dominant champion who has already beaten the next-best fighter, Claudia Gadelha, twice. Rose Namajunas is lined up as the next title contender, but most don’t give “Thug” much of a chance against arguably the top pound-for-pound female fighter in the sport.
But back to bantamweight.
It’s this lack of depth that has Holm on the cusp of a another title shot at both 135 and 145 pounds, a spot where she jumped over Raquel Pennington, Ronda Rousey and Julianna Peña. It makes sense to have Holm over Rousey, but Pennington beat Tate, the woman who took Holm’s belt, so why would Pennington be lower than Holm?
As far as Peña goes, she just lost to Shevchenko in January. Even though Holm has faced tougher competition overall, Peña’s last victory was against number 7-ranked Cat Zingano, and deserves to be higher than Holm.
Regardless, a possible stylistic match-up between Holm and Nunes would make for an excellent fight, and if Nunes can get past Shevchenko on UFC 213, Holm might challenge for the belt and return to her former glory once again. Much of that is due to her win over Rousey obviously, as she may still be the most recognized female fighter outside of “Rowdy” and Tate.
To her credit, she can devastatingly finish any fight with her vicious kicks. At times she’s been tentative and cautious in the octagon, however, making her an inconsistent would-be star who certainly has the potential to be one, and a flashy one at that.
That’s what the UFC’s new owners appear focused on in an effort to repay the monstrous $4.2 billion price tag, so Holm is benefitting from her considerable knockout ability – and also the lack of top contenders in the UFC’s female divisions right now.