Holly Holm is a hometown hero.
Only Alex Bregman after his stellar World Series performance is in that kind of rarified air for local sports fans.
We celebrated with her as she claimed world boxing titles, and after moving to UFC, we were ecstatic as she took out Ronda Rousey with a kick that stunned the sports world. We have collectively winced as she has lost four of her past five fights. We didn’t wince only because she lost, but also because she has taken some dreadful beatings – none worse than Saturday night as she dropped a unanimous decision to Cristiane “Cyborg” Justino and her relentless pressure, power and counterpunching.
Holly didn’t appear at the post-fight press conference because she had been taken to a Las Vegas hospital to have her eye checked. Thankfully, her promoter and coaches say it was precautionary and the injury isn’t serious.
Still, it should be a moment of reflection for all the fans who have followed her career. And hopefully one for Holly and her camp.
Yes, the “Preacher’s Daughter” is a highly marketable, intense competitor. She makes good money in UFC combat, and people make money off of her. While she has yet to speak after Saturday’s loss, her managers say her first words after the fight was that she wanted a rematch with Cyborg.
But she is 36 years old – and despite her incredible training regimen and skills, age is an undeniable factor in a sport that requires fast-twitch muscle performance.
Fighting is an intensely personal sport that requires a unique combatant. It goes against the grain of the very best – and Holly Holm is in this category – to acknowledge the time has come to hang up the gloves. We watched as Muhammad Ali, Roberto Duran and local Johnny Tapia, who was beloved by his many fans despite his troubled life, hang on too long.
Holly Holm has been a great champion, citizen and role model throughout her career, and it’s not up to her faithful fans to tell her what she should or shouldn’t do when it comes to her fighting future – it’s obviously her decision. And if she chooses to fight Cyborg again – assuming Cyborg will grant a rematch – we’ll sign up for pay per view and root for her to claim this belt.
But we’ll be holding our collective breath.
This editorial first appeared in the Albuquerque Journal. It was written by members of the editorial board and is unsigned as it represents the opinion of the newspaper rather than the writers.