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Updated: Holm not thinking about retirement despite another defeat

Amanda Nunes celebrates her knockout victory over Holly Holm, right, during their women’s bantamweight mixed martial arts title bout at UFC 239 Saturday in Las Vegas, Nev.. Nunes won by first-round knockout. (AP Photo/Eric Jamison)

Before you ask, the answer is no.

No, says Lenny Fresquez, Holly Holm is not retiring.

And who is Fresquez’s source?

Holly Holm.

Retirement, Holm’s longtime Albuquerque promoter said in a Tuesday phone interview, is “absolutely out of the question. Big bold headline: Absolutely not retiring!

“In all seriousness, that (declaration) is what Holly wants. She’s so sick of hearing that (question).”

Yet, in the wake of the Albuquerque MMA fighter’s devastating, first-round knockout loss on Saturday at the hands of UFC bantamweight champion Amanda Nunes, the question seems legitimate.

Holm, herself a former UFC bantamweight champion, has lost five of seven fights since she dethroned Ronda Rousey in Melbourne, Australia, with a head kick – the same weapon Nunes used in defeating Holm in Las Vegas, Nev.

And retirement questions have been part of Holm’s combat-sports life since December 2011, when as a boxer she suffered an even scarier knockout at the hands of France’s Anne Sophie Mathis.

Holm hated the “R-word” then, and Fresquez makes it clear she hates it just as fiercely today.

Fresquez, whose association with Holm began in 2004, makes it equally clear he feels the same.

The Holly Holm who entered the Octagon on Saturday at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas, Nev., Fresquez said, was the best Holly Holm there has been. But bad things can happen in there, especially when fighting an opponent – Nunes – now almost universally acknowledged as the best ever in women’s MMA.

“I can tell you honestly that Holly is in her fighting prime,” Fresquez said. “If Holly needed to retire, I would be the first one to tell her. But Holly is in the best shape, has the most knowledge and the most tools in her toolbox that she’s ever, ever, ever had.

“I have more belief in this woman now than I ever have. We got set back now. We’ve got to prove ourself again.”

Saturday, Holm (12-5) was at the very least holding her own against Nunes (18-4), having landed a sharp right hand in the first minute, before the sudden ending came at the 4-minute, 10-second mark of the first round.

Holm, standing directly in front of the champion, threw a rather lazy and tentative right-footed leg kick – dropping her hands as she did so.

Nunes seized the opportunity with a perfectly aimed, exquisitely timed head kick. Two punches on the ground later, it was over.

Fresquez believes it may have been Nunes’ knees and kicks to the body earlier in the round that brought Holm’s hands down.

In any case, he said, “Hats off to Amanda’s team for coming up with a great game plan. You can’t take anything away from Amanda, she was the better woman that night.

“She’s the greatest of all time.”

Holm, 37, now must serve a 60-day suspension – she wouldn’t be back in the Octagon that soon in any case – and Fresquez would like her to fight again before the year is out. The opponent? “Holly will fight anybody.”

The goal, he said, remains the same: a UFC championship belt.

“Unfortunately, she only has five fights left (on her contract),” Fresquez said. “… I feel sorry for her next opponents, because she’s gonna have to put a pounding on them for her to get that title opportunity. She’s gonna have to do some real damage.”

Of that, he said, Holm remains eminently capable.

“You should have seen how good she was looking (in training for Saturday’s fight),” Fresquez said. “It was incredible. I really thought she was gonna dismantle Amanda; she was just tearing people up left and right.

“But we made a mistake (in the fight) and paid for it, and now we’ve got to pay the consequences.”

HOLM ON INSTAGRAM: Holm did not speak to the media after Saturday’s fight, but on Tuesday confirmed on Instagram her intention to continue.

“I want you guys (her fans) to know I’m feeling good and I’m pushing forward,” she posted. “A lot of heartbreak right now, but I’m doing fine, and I just want you to know that I appreciate the love and support.”

Of the fight itself, she wrote, “You know, I always say I get to live the life of a dream. I never actually dreamed of getting kicked in the face. It’s never a part of my dream. That’s like part of my nightmare.

“Living a little nightmare, waking up every morning you’re like yup, that’s real. That just happened.”

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