Dana White, the irascible, plain-talking UFC president, was uncharacteristically noncommittal when asked late Saturday night (or perhaps early Sunday morning) about what’s next for Holly Holm.
“We’ll see what we can do,” White said at a news conference, a couple of hours after Holm’s victory by unanimous decision over Megan Anderson at the United Center in Chicago.
Yet, what White and the UFC can and should do seems easy and simple enough: make a bantamweight title fight between Albuquerque’s Holm (12-4) and Brazilian champion Amanda Nunes (16-4) before the year is out.
Where’s the obstacle? Nunes last fought May 12, defeating Raquel Pennington by fifth-round TKO. The timing works.
After Holm’s dominant victory over Anderson, Nunes expressed her willingness. “Let’s do it @HollyHolm,” she tweeted.
If White was leaning toward a rematch between Holm and UFC featherweight champion Cristiane “Cyborg” Justino, who defeated the Albuquerquean by unanimous decision on Dec. 30, perhaps he should consider this: Cyborg apparently would rather see Holm fight Nunes and then fight the winner.
“Both these girls beat @Ronda Rousey,” Cyborg tweeted. “I want to know who wins against each other and can fight the winner of @Amanda_Leoa v. @HollyHolm in REAL SUPERFIGHT”
Holm, for her part, says she’s up for anything. But, after beating Anderson at the 145-pound featherweight limit, she says bantamweight (135) is where her heart is.
The UFC bantamweight belt was hers for four months after her historic victory over Rousey. She then lost the belt to Miesha Tate. It’s the only UFC title she has held, having twice lost bids for the featherweight title.
“I think anything you lose you want back, right?” Holm said at the postfight news conference. “That’s something that’s dear to you.”
If and when Holm-Nunes happens, the champion likely would be a heavy favorite. Nunes twice has beaten Valentina Shevchenko, who defeated Holm by decisive, unanimous decision in August 2016. Nunes dominated Pennington, who lost to Holm by split decision in the Albuquerque southpaw’s UFC debut in February 2015.
But, Holm said of Nunes, “Every fighter can be beat, and that’s how I feel.
“She’s very tough. She’s proven that … That’s definitely a tough fight, but that’s what I’m here for.”
THE GROUND GAME: Holm surprised most observers, and probably Anderson as well, by taking down the Australian fighter four times during her dominant victory Saturday.
Holm, a former world champion boxer, rarely has gone to the ground – at least by choice – during her MMA career.
The takedowns were, though, she said, no surprise to her. It was simply the right strategy at the right time.
“The takedowns were something a lot of people don’t know I have, but I do it all the time in the gym,” she said. “So, I decided to just let it go out there.
“I’ve been fighting for a long time, and part of my enjoyment is growing and finding new ways to be dangerous. This fight brought that out in me.”
TROUT-CHARLO: In what has been described as a snoozer of a fight, Las Cruces junior middleweight boxer Austin Trout (31-5, 17 knockouts) lost on Saturday by majority decision to champion Jermell Charlo (31-0, 15 KOs) in a WBC super middleweight bout.
The most bizarre thing about the fight, contested at the Staples Center in Los Angeles, was the scoring. One judge scored the bout even at 113-113 – actually giving Trout seven of the 12 rounds but scoring two rounds 10-8 for Charlo as the result of knockdowns he scored in the third and ninth rounds.
Another judge scored it 115-111 for Charlo, seven rounds to five. A third judge had it 118-108, ten rounds to two. Los Angeles Times boxing writer Lance Pugmire agreed with judge No. 3, calling the 113-113 scorecard “rotten.” Albuquerque freelance combat-sports writer Jorge Hernández, a close friend of Trout’s, had Charlo winning by a wide margin.
Trout, at least, avoided the “beating of a lifetime” predicted for him by espn.com boxing writer Dan Rafael.