Featherweight? Bantamweight? Cris “Cyborg” Justino? Amanda Nunes?
Holly Holm, typically, is OK with either and any of the above, though she – somewhat atypically – has expressed a preference for Nunes and bantamweight.
In either or in any case, though, the options would narrow dramatically if the Albuquerque/Jackson-Wink MMA fighter does not defeat Australia’s Megan Anderson.
Holm (11-4) and Anderson (8-2) will face off Saturday night at the United Center in Chicago in a featherweight (145-pound) fight. It’s a featured match on the main card, to be televised on pay-per-view.
This will be Holm’s third fight at featherweight, having lost 145-pound title fights to Germaine DeRandamie and Cyborg.
Holm hasn’t fought at bantamweight (135 pounds) since her June 2017 victory (third-round TKO, head kick and punches) over Bethe Correa in Singapore.
But there’s this: she’s 0-2 as a featherweight, 11-2 as a bantamweight. And, despite having lost four of her last five fights, she’s the UFC’s No. 1 challenger for Nunes’ bantamweight title belt.
So, is she a bantamweight or a featherweight?
At a news conference in Albuquerque last week, Holm was in the come-what-may mode that has defined her combat-sports career: just tell her when and against whom, at whatever weight, and she’ll be there.
“You never really know if you’re promised another day,” she said. “… God only knows my plan for my future, and I’m just gonna take each day at a time, and that’s about it.”
After that news conference, though, Lenny Fresquez, Holm’s longtime Albuquerque promoter, said there is a definite preference: a return to bantamweight and a shot at Nunes.
By late last week, that’s what Holm was saying as well.
“I definitely feel like 135 is a little more my home,” Holm said on Friday at a UFC media luncheon in Los Angeles. “This (the Anderson fight) was the opportunity that presented itself and what seemed good for right now.
“I’m just gonna take this fight and after that, I would like to be able to go back to 135 and maybe fight for the belt.”
There’s no apparent obstacle, other than Anderson, to that possibility. Nunes last fought on May 12, a fifth-round victory by TKO over Raquel Pennington, and a Nunes-Holm fight late in 2018 seems eminently doable.
As for Anderson (first name pronounced “Mee-gan,” not “Meg-gan”), she presents one unique problem. At 6 feet, she’s by far the tallest opponent Holm has faced.
“She’s definiely a tall fighter, long fighter, long reach,” Holm said. “I’m used to being the taller fighter, so there’s a lot of different aspects of the game for this fight, so we’re making the adjustments.”
BACK ON: Albuquerque/Jackson-Wink strawweight Jodie Esquibel’s UFC fight against Houston’s Jessica Aguilar, originally scheduled for last Friday in Utica, N.Y., has been rescheduled for July 14 in Boise, Idaho.
The fight was canceled on fight day by the New York State Athletic Commission because Aguilar presented with chapped lips. Chapped lips were all it was, Aguilar protested, but the NYSAC’s medical staff, according to a statement, “identified a potentially contagious medical condition.”
One hopes that by July 14 – whether or not she can lick Esquibel – Aguilar will have licked chapped lips.
FAMILIAR NAMES: UFC 225 is loaded with Albuquerque connections, past and present.
Dutch heavyweight Alistair Overeem (43-16), who’s matched against Curtis Blaydes (9-1), trains at Jackson-Wink.
Belarus heavyweight Andrei Arlovski (27-15), who’s facing Tai Tuivasa (7-0), is a former Jackson-Wink fighter. Light heavyweight Rashad Evans (19-7), who’s facing Anthony Smith (28-13) is also a former J-W fighter. So, as well, is featherweight Clay Guida (34-17), who’s matched against Charles Oliveira (22-8).
Brazil’s Claudia Galdelha (15-3), who’s facing Carla Esparza (13-4) in a strawweight fight, lived and trained in Albuquerque for a period of time. She’s now based in Las Vegas, Nev., but is still working with coaches Chris Luttrell and Ray Yee of Albuquerque’s Luttrell-Yee MMA.
Flyweight Joseph Benavidez (25-4), who’s matched against Sergio Pettis (16-3), is a Las Cruces native. Pettis and his brother, Anthony, are not Jackson-Wink fighters but have spent considerable time training at J-W.