Former UFC women’s bantamweight champion Holly Holm continues to deal with what some would call a controversial choice when she decided to trust the word of Lenny Fresquez as her full-time manager when she made the transition from boxing to MMA.
In the eyes of some, like UFC President Dana White, Fresquez is vaguely akin to Screech from Saved By The Bell; not many people care for him, but he’s always around because he’s friendly with the important people.
Fresquez is no stranger to making headlines, but it’s generally for all the wrong reasons. If you’re wondering why his name is currently ringing a bell, it’s most likely due to his recent verbal tussle with Dana White over his alleged “mismanagement” of Holm’s contract and fight schedule.
Earlier this year, after Holm’s November 2015 decimation of then-champion Ronda Rousey, Fresquez and White experienced some discord over against whom Holm should make her first title defense, Miesha “Cupcake” Tate or a rematch with “Rowdy” Ronda Rousey.
Fresquez, as any competent manager would, wanted what his client wanted; what they thought was best for Holm. They wanted to stay active and take the best, most challenging fight available to keep her sharp for her ‘eventual’ title rematch with “Rowdy.” That, as history shows, happened to be Miesha Tate, which turned out to be a very poor decision.
But as they say, hindsight is always 20/20.
White, on the other hand, wanted what any sane and savvy businessman/promoter would want; for the fighter that dethroned the UFC’s golden queen to await the rematch that would surely turn out to be not only a behemoth moneymaker, but a pre-fight build-up unprecedented by any other blockbuster fight in UFC history. In other words, the company — and both fighters involved — would make a ton of cash.
Unswayed by White’s insistence, Fresquez and Holm opted to stay active and give themselves a good old fashioned warm-up fight against Miesha Tate, a useful practice bout before she “inevitably” stepped back into the cage to defend the title she pried from the ice-cold clutches of Rousey.
Unsurprisingly, “Cupcake” did not take very well to this news, and deservedly so, she aired her frustrations to Joe Rogan while a guest on his podcast, The Joe Rogan Experience, on Thursday (May 5, 2016).
The UFC did not want that fight to happen. Dana flew out to Albuquerque and told them ‘don’t fight Miesha Tate…Ronda’s the money fight.’ They wanted the [Holm vs. Rousey] rematch to be the first [title] defense. And Holly’s manager told him ‘we want Miesha Tate’, Dana said he threw up his hands and was like ‘are you f*cking kidding me, other than Ronda she’s been the baddest for years now and you want to take her lightly? You think you’re just going to walk through her?’ And he [Fresquez] was like ‘yeah we got this, she’s going to be a tune-up fight. He told Dana that I was going to be a tune-up fight…he’s an idiot.”
“Cupcake” was spot on. She submitted “The Preacher’s Daughter” via rear-naked choke late in the fifth round of their co-main event title fight at UFC 196 on March 5, undoubtedly using the motivation provided by Fresquez’s patronizing words to squeeze just a little bit tighter and secure her astonishing victory.
Let this be a lesson to all managers (and fighters) out there, that any fighter skilled and tough enough to make it all the way to the most talent-rich, prestigious organization in the world is not a tune-up fight and should never, ever be taken that lightly.