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Holm, denied return match, will weigh options

 

Holly Holm is scheduled to throw out the first pitch at an Albuquerque Isotopes home game April 16.

In the meantime, Miesha Tate and the UFC have thrown her a curve.

But what will she do with it?

Chances are, Holm’s agent, Lenny Fresquez said, the Albuquerquean will be back in the octagon in a non-title fight soon.

Tate, who on March 5 defeated Holm by fifth-round submission (rear naked choke) and took away her UFC bantamweight title, announced Wednesday night that her first defense will be against Brazil’s Amanda Nunes — not a rematch with Holm.

The Tate-Nunes fight is scheduled for UFC 200 in Las Vegas, Nev., on July 9.

Fresquez said the Albuquerque fighter and her entire team are deeply disappointed. He has been told the decision was Tate’s, not the UFC’s.

“They tell me Tate chose (Nunes),” Fresquez told the Journal on Thursday in a phone interview. “Holly was offered to her and she chose Nunes. She chose to take a weaker opponent.

“She’s not as stand-up as Holly. She said she’d take on the best, but she’s not willing to take on the best. Holly gave her a chance. We’re pretty disappointed she didn’t return the favor.”

Later Thursday, however, Tate told mmajunkie.com that the UFC — she didn’t name an individual — urged her to take the fight with Nunes.

“They thought that Amanda was the next best girl in line,” Tate said. … “They didn’t feel that it was necessary to have an immediate rematch.”

Dana White, the UFC president, was unhappy with the Holm camp’s decision to take the Tate fight in March rather than wait for a rematch with Ronda Rousey, whom the Albuquerquean defeated for the title in November. White also has been a vocal critic of Fresquez.

Fresquez said the Albuquerque fighter essentially has two options: take a fight in the interim or wait for the winner of the Tate-Nunes fight.

The latter option is complicated by the projected return of Rousey, who is expected to be ready to fight by late this year. White has made it clear he wants Rousey to get a title shot as soon as she’s available.

The worst-case scenario for Holm, then, is to remain idle until a title fight presents itself early in 2017.

Fresquez said his preference would be to keep Holm (10-1) out of the octagon until a title shot is available. But Holm’s preference always has been to fight regularly.

“She likes to stay active,” Fresquez said. “She’s the boss. My job is to do what her desires are.”

No potential opponents for Holm have been discussed, Fresquez said. If Holm chooses to take a non-title fight, he said, it probably would be in July.

The UFC has three cards scheduled that month: an “Ultimate Fighter Finale” in Las Vegas on July 8, UFC 200 the next night and a “UFC Fight Night” show July 23.

The July 8 show will be headlined by a strawweight title fight between champion Joanna Jedrzejczyk and challenger Claudia Gadelha. The Tate-Nunes fight has been added to UFC 200, topped by a rematch between Nate Diaz and Conor McGregor. No matches have been announced for the July 23 show, scheduled to air on Fox from the United Center in Chicago.

Nunes (12-4) last fought on UFC 196, the same night on which Holm lost her title to Tate. The Brazilian fighter defeated Valentina Shevchenko by unanimous decision.

Tate (18-5) on Wednesday night said Nunes was on a four-fight win streak. Actually, Nunes has won three in a row since a loss to Cat Zingano in September 2014.

“She’s got a lot of momentum and she’s really dangerous,” Tate said of Nunes on Fox Sports 1’s “UFC Tonight.”

Of the decision not to give Holm an immediate rematch, Tate said: “The fight with Holly, you know, it was her first defense, and she wasn’t successful in it. It’s not like she was a longtime reigning champion, and I finished the fight.”

Thursday, the UFC announced that bantamweight contenders Zingano and Julianna Peña will face each other on UFC 200. It’s unclear how that fight might impact the title picture.

Holm has just returned from a brief trip to Mexico and worked out at Jackson-Wink MMA on Thursday, Fresquez said.

She has plenty to keep her busy, he said: magazine cover photo shoots, a music video, Holly Holm Day at Isotopes Park.

Even so, Fresquez said, her focus remains on regaining the title she lost to Tate in March.

“She had her heart set on a rematch,” he said. “All I can say is, I feel sorry for the girl that fights her.”

 

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