UFC star Holly Holm has revealed she wants to focus on fighting at bantamweight and admitted the future of the women’s featherweight division is in jeopardy.
Holm is a former UFC Bantamweight Champion –– famously handing Ronda Rousey her first loss in the sport back in 2015. However, she lost the belt just a few months later to Miesha Tate at UFC 196.
The American has also competed at featherweight three times during her career, including for the inaugural Featherweight Championship against Germaine de Randamie.
Yet, the 40-year-old does not see herself as a featherweight fighter and believes she has only fought at that weight because of opponents refusing to face her at 135 pounds.
“When I fought at featherweight, that’s usually been the case,” she told MMA Fighting. “I’m always open to any fight and that’s why I took it, but if there’s another opportunity that makes more sense, that’s what I’m going to take.
“Because, I mean, yes, there’s a belt at featherweight, but you never know what’s going to happen.”
Amanda Nunes is the reigning Featherweight Champion but the Brazilian is currently focused on negotiating a rematch with Julianna Peña, who stunned the UFC legend last year to win the bantamweight title.
With Nunes clearly in no rush to defend her featherweight belt, Holm sees this as more reason to focus on fighting at bantamweight –– a division she feels far more comfortable in.
“If [Nunes is] going to fight right away, is she going to go back for the rematch? That’s going to be at 135 [pounds] anyway. What is the angle at 145? What would I really be going for?
“That’s why I want to focus on 135 — which, 135 is where I like to be anyway. That’s my weight class. Yes, I’ve fought at 145 because I’m open to both because I want to fight. But it makes more sense to me to fight at 135.”
Since its inception, the UFC has struggled to expand the featherweight division beyond a few fighters.
It was first introduced to make room for MMA legend Cris Cyborg, who is regarded as one of the best female mixed martial artists of all time.
Cyborg won the vacant featherweight belt in 2017 and defended the title twice, including once against Holm. But Nunes then claimed the title in 2018, thanks to a memorable 51-second knockout.
With the division seemingly in danger of stagnating, two-time Olympic gold medallist and back-to-back PFL champion Kayla Harrison has been linked with a move to the UFC.
Harrison, who has fought before at featherweight, is currently exploring free agency and Dana White has confirmed his promotion are keen on signing the undefeated fighter.
A contest between Nunes and Harrison could well be on the cards at some point in the future and would no doubt give the division a huge boost.
For now though, as Holm says: “We’ll have to see how that plays out.”