The standoff is over between Holly Holm and the UFC.
Albuquerque’s hometown queen of fighting and the largest promotion in mixed-martial arts came to a contract agreement Thursday after months of sometimes contentious negotiations.
“I’m just superexcited,” said Holm. “I’m really fortunate to have such good opportunities and such good people to work with. Now their hard work is done and my hard work begins. I just want to make it worth it – all the hype, all this anticipation, I just want to do really well. … I’m very excited, but it’s very real now, too. There’s a lot of emotion.”
UFC President Dana White, who in the past year has said he had no interest in signing Holm, called her promoter Lenny Fresquez a “lunatic” and eventually pulled himself out of the negotiations with the former multiple world boxing champion, on Thursday had a different tune. The outspoken White announced the deal via his Twitter account with a picture of Holm alongside a picture of him smiling holding the signed contract.
“I’m excited to finally have Holly under contract,” White told the Journal. “She had an incredible career in boxing and won multiple world titles. She’s undefeated at 7-0 in MMA and has huge knockout power. She is a great addition to our women’s bantamweight division.”
The contract is for five fights, according to Fresquez, Holm’s promoter for the past decade. While financial terms of the deal were not disclosed, Fresquez and longtime Holm manager and coach Mike Winkeljohn said they are very pleased with the terms of the deal.
“I have 100 percent confidence in Lenny Fresquez,” Winkeljohn said. “Behind the scenes, he did everything right, and had Holly had anybody else, we would have left a lot on the table. There’s a reason he does what he does. Holly and I are so grateful that he did what he did.”
Holm agreed, saying that while many people urged her to drop Fresquez over the past year when the UFC was public with its frustrations, she never considered breaking up the team of her, Winkeljohn and Fresquez, a trio that made her one of the world’s best known names in female fighting.
“He does his job well, and he does look out for my best interests,” Holm said. “It makes it easy to be able to sit back and just train.”
It is unclear when or against whom Holm will first fight in the UFC, but Winkeljohn said he expects it to be in October. Holm, recovering from a broken arm suffered in an April fight, has a doctor’s appointment next week that she said she hopes will lead to her being released to do more training with her injured arm.
And when she does return to the cage, her camp knows all expectations are for her to quickly prove herself worthy of challenging UFC women’s bantamweight champion Ronda Rousey.
“We’ve got to get some fights out of the way, but I’d think it’s about a year out or so,” Winkeljohn said of a possible Holm vs. Rousey matchup. “We have to show the world what Holly can do at a higher level and show she can wrestle, then build up the biggest fight probably the UFC has ever had.”
Holm said for now, she’s focused on the journey to get that title shot more than on Rousey herself.
“There’s a lot of tough girls to get there, and obviously she’s ran through a lot of them pretty easily and at will,” Holm said. “It’s a lot to work on and work for, but I definitely want to take one day at a time.”
Holm, 32, has compiled a 7-0 record in MMA. Though the level of her foes has been questioned by some observers, she nonetheless is considered by many one of the few women who could challenge Rousey.
Holm is likely to fight multiple times before she would get a title shot.
Fans, meanwhile, have played a big role in making sure the UFC knew there is a demand for her to join the promotion.
“I want to make sure the fans know how much we appreciate them through all this,” Fresquez said. “They’ve always been there for Holly, and they stayed with her through all of this. They meant a lot in this.”
DODSON OUT: It wasn’t all good news Thursday for the fighters of Albuquerque’s Jackson-Winkeljohn MMA.
News broke on FoxSports.com that Albuquerque native John Dodson, also under contract with UFC, underwent surgery Wednesday to repair a torn ACL and torn meniscus in his knee.
He said he plans to be out of training six to eight months and probably have to wait about a year before his next fight.
Dodson told the website he felt a pop in his knee during his June win over John Moraga at “UFC Fight Night” in Tingley Coliseum. When the knee didn’t swell up, however, he thought it would be OK until running the next week and feeling another pop, which led to doctors finding the ACL tear.
UP NEXT: Several Albuquerque-trained fighters are on UFC fight cards in the next couple of weeks.
Wednesday, Donald “Cowboy” Cerrone fights Jim Miller in the main event of “UFC Fight Night” in Atlantic City, N.J.
Diego Brandao is fighting Conor McGregor on the July 19 main event of “UFC Fight Night” in Dublin, Ireland.
On the July 26 “UFC on Fox” fight card from San Jose, Calif., Clay Guida fights Dennis Bermudez, and Tim Means takes on Hernani Perpetuo.
Cerrone, Brandao and Guida train at Jackson-Winkeljohn, while Means fights out of Fit NHB gym.