The MMA world is not clamoring, Lenny Fresquez realizes, for a rematch between Albuquerque’s Holly Holm and UFC bantamweight champion Amanda Nunes.
There are fighters other than Holm, he acknowledges, that the UFC would rather have challenge Nunes – given that Nunes dispatched Holm by first-round TKO (head kick and punches) less than a year ago. Among them: Irene Aldana and Aspen Ladd, two bantamweights Nunes has yet to face.
Even so, says Fresquez, Holm’s longtime Albuquerque promoter, his fighter wants that rematch. His job is to help her get there – starting with a victory over Aldana.
“That’s what (Holm) says she wants, and that’s what her goal is,” Fresquez said in a phone interview. “To get that bantamweight title fight.”
As reported on Monday (though not yet announced by the UFC), Holm (13-5) is scheduled to face Aldana (12-5) on Aug. 1. A location for the card has not been announced, but Las Vegas, Nevada, is the likely site.
Meanwhile, Ladd (9-1) is scheduled to face Sarah McMann (12-5) on June 27 on the UFC’s “Fight Island” in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates.
“I’m hearing (the UFC) wants Aspen Ladd or Aldana to beat Holly so they can have a new opponent for Amanda,” Fresquez said. “We totally plan on spoiling those plans.”
The Netherlands’ Germaine de Randamie is the UFC’s No. 1 challenger to Nunes’ bantamweight title. But de Randamie twice has fought and lost to Nunes. Holm is No. 2, followed by Ladd, Julianna Pena and Aldana. Pena, due to injuries and pregnancy, has fought only once in the past 30 months. She was to have fought Ladd in March, but again was injured before cancellation of that card due to COVID-19.
Fresquez said he doesn’t expect Nunes to fight again in 2020. She and her partner, UFC flyweight Nina Ansaroff, are expecting a child this fall. He believes the UFC would like to match Ladd and Aldana, should they both win their upcoming fights, with the winner of that fight taking on Nunes early in 2021.
But Fresquez said he’s confident Holm will beat Aldana and then Ladd, should she get the opportunity.
“I like both those fights,” he said. “We probably will have to fight both those girls before we fight Amanda.”
If that’s the scenario, might the UFC still be reluctant to put Holm back in the Octagon with Nunes? The champion needed only 4 minutes, 10 seconds of the first round to beat the Albuquerquean last July in Las Vegas.
“I’m sure there is (reluctance),” he said, “but that’s why she has to earn her way back up there.”
Yet, Fresquez believes Holm’s continued popularity makes her a viable contender.
“They (the UFC brass) know that Holly’s still the biggest female star they have,” he said. “And that’s fact. She’s more popular than the champion.”
For what it’s worth, Holm has more followers than does Nunes on both Twitter (390,000 compared with 243,000) and Instagram (2.1 million to 1.2 million).
Fresquez said Holm, 38, has lost none of her desire to regain the bantamweight title she won in 2015 by defeating Ronda Rousey and lost to Miesha Tate in her first defense.
“She’s hungry and she’s very excited to fight,” he said.
BOXING: Fresquez said he recently spoke with Albuquerque flyweight boxer Matthew Griego (11-0, eight knockouts) about getting him back in the ring once coronavirus restrictions are relaxed enough to permit it.
Fresquez promoted a card headlined by Griego on March 7 at Isleta Resort & Casino. Griego defeated the Philippines’ Jeronil Borres by unanimous decision.
“I just talked to Matthew last week,” Fresquez said. “… He’s excited to get back training again… (but) we’ll just have to see.
“As soon as we can have fans, we’ll put on a fight for him.”
When that happens, Fresquez said, he’d like to put Albuquerque’s Jodie Esquibel on the card in a semi-main event.
“I haven’t spoken with her,” he said, “(but) she wants to get back into boxing and I think this would be a perfect spot for her.”
Esquibel is 7-7-1 as a boxer with two KOs but hasn’t been in the ring since 2015. Better known as an MMA fighter, she’s 6-6 in the cage.