Holly Holm has transcended combat sports during a professional career that’s approaching 16 years, making fans of many Albuquerqueans who otherwise would never have watched a boxing match or an MMA fight.
Two years ago Tuesday, she gave those fans a thrill they’ll never forget.
On Nov. 14, 2015 — well OK, Nov. 15 in Melbourne, Australia — Holm pulled what remains arguably the most stunning upset in MMA history. A 20-to-1 underdog against the unbeaten and thought-to-be unbeatable Ronda Rousey, the Albuquerque boxer-turned-fighter battered Rousey with punches in the first round, then finished her with a head kick and strikes on the ground in the second.
Three weeks and one day later, thousands of those fans flooded Civic Plaza to celebrate with the new UFC women’s bantamweight champion.
Since then, things haven’t gone nearly as well for Holm as they did back then. “The Preacher’s Daughter” lost her title to Miesha Tate the following March. Losses to Valentina Shevchenko and Germaine de Randamie followed.
But, in June in Singapore, Holm launched herself back into the win column with another victory by head kick and strikes on the ground — against Brazil’s Bethe Correia in the third round.
It’s not clear what the future holds for Holm, who turned 36 last month. Albuquerque’s Lenny Fresquez, her longtime manager, recently broke off talks with the UFC for a title fight against featherweight champion Cristiane “Cyborg” Justino. Fresquez said he felt the UFC was low-balling his fighter in contract negotiations.
Whatever happens, or does not, Holm will long be remembered — here and throughout the combat-sports world — as the woman who took down Ronda Rousey.
THE FIGHTS: Saturday was a good night for the home team at Expo New Mexico.
As reported by SecondsOut.com, Albuquerque’s Jason Sanchez defeated Stephon McIntyre of Jonesboro, Ga., by unanimous eight-round decision in the main event of a seven-bout Legacy Promotions boxing card.
Sanchez, a featherweight, improved his record to 11-0 with six knockouts. McIntyre, a late replacement for a late replacement, is 3-36-4.
In other bouts:
• Rio Rancho welterweight Brian Mendoza (16-0, 11 KOs) stopped John David Charles (9-13, one KO) of Corpus Christi, Texas, by third-round TKO.
• Albuquerque super flyweight Matthew Griego (8-0, seven KOs) defeated Mexican veteran Alejandro Moreno (24-38-3, 11 KOs) by TKO when Moreno’s cornermen chose not to let their fighter come out for the fourth round.
• Albuquerque featherweight Matthew “Papitas” Esquibel (11-0, six KOs) climbed off the canvas to dispatch Christopher Russell (3-21-1) of Shattuck, Okla., in the first round with a spectacular left hook.
• Albuquerque welterweight Cristian Cabral (8-1, four KOs) won by unanimous four-round decision over Tevorus Teague (4-18-2) of Bakersfield, Calif.
• Albuquerque junior welterweight Ronnie Baca (2-0-1) defeated Anthony Hill (1-24) of Oklahoma City by majority four-round decision.
• Albuquerque junior middleweight Jordanne Garcia (2-0) defeated Los Lunas’ Katie Ramirez (0-1-1) by unanimous four-round decision.
HINSHAW WINS: Friday in Carlton, Minn., Albuquerque’s Jayme Hinshaw defeated Melissa Sophia Karagianis of Toronto by fourth-round submission (rear naked choke) for the King of the Cage atomweight (105-pound title). Hinshaw, who trains at FIT-NHB, is 3-3, as is Karagianis.
UPCOMING: Welterweight Tim Means (27-8-1), Hinshaw’s Fit-NHB teammate, is headed for Sydney, Australia, where he’s scheduled to face Chicago’s Belal Muhammad (12-2) Saturday on UFC Fight Night 121. The card will be telecast on Fox Sports 1, starting at 8 p.m.
… Albuquerque’s Henry Anaya III is scheduled to resume his boxing career Friday in Denver. Anaya, 30, grandson of longtime Albuquerque boxing coach Henry Anaya and son of former boxer Henry Jr., is 1-2-1 as a professional. He last fought in January 2013. Anaya is scheduled to face Cesar Ruiz (record unavailable).