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Analysis: Holly is Holm alone while waiting on UFC

Mixed martial arts is a full-contact sport and, pretty much, a full-contact business.

Thus, the promotional slap in the face dealt to Albuquerque’s Holly Holm last week should not be viewed as a surprise.WRIGHT Rick_2012

Nor should it be forgotten that, at least to an extent, the blow was self-inflicted.

No one told Holm, after all, that she had to fight Miesha Tate on March 5.

No one told her she had to lose.

Now, at least for the time being, Holm has been relegated to spectator status while the UFC women’s bantamweight class sorts itself out.

Tate, who snatched away Holm’s bantamweight title with an upset victory by fifth-round submission (rear naked choke), announced Thursday that her first defense would come against Brazil’s Amanda Nunes at UFC 200 on July 9.

Albuquerque’s Lenny Fresquez, Holm’s agent, said he was told by the UFC that the decision to defend against Nunes and not give Holm an immediate rematch was Tate’s alone.

No way, Tate said. In interviews with mmafighting.com, mmajunkie.com and foxsports.com, the current champion said the UFC never even mentioned a Holm rematch.

“I absolutely did not turn down a rematch with Holly,” Tate told Fox Sports’ Damon Martin. “It wasn’t something that was offered to me.

“(The UFC) asked me about Amanda and I said ‘yes.’

“I don’t not fight people. I stepped up and fought Holly, and if that rematch comes to fruition and that’s what the UFC wants, whenever they want that, I’m totally up for that too. But it just wasn’t in their cards at the time.”

So, is the UFC dealing from the bottom of the deck where Holm is concerned?

Fresquez chooses not to think so. Friday, when presented with Tate’s remarks, he told MMA Fighting’s Marc Raimondi that he believes UFC CEO Lorenzo Fertitta in the matter of whose decision it was to give Nunes the title shot.

“I take Lorenzo at his word,” Fresquez said. “This is what Tate wanted to do.”

Even so, it’s easy enough to see the vengeful hand of UFC President Dana White in this matter.

In fact, it’s hard not to do so.

Of course, that doesn’t mean it’s true.

White, a close friend of former champion Ronda Rousey, was disappointed on a personal and on a professional level when Holm shockingly defeated Rousey by second-round TKO in November. He was upset when Team Holm chose to take the Tate fight instead of waiting for a mega million dollar rematch with Rousey – though we didn’t know then and still don’t know for sure when Rousey will be ready to fight again.

After Tate’s victory over Holm, White went on ESPN radio and ripped Fresquez – “an old boxing guy who think’s he’s smart and isn’t” – for selling Holm on the fight. Holm has said repeatedly that defending against Tate was her decision.

Fresquez, throughout, has taken pains not to fire back at White.

When White called him “a lunatic” during Holm’s initial contract negotiations with the UFC, Fresquez laughed it off – publicly, anyway. He never responded to the “old boxing guy” remarks, merely pointing out he was doing Holm’s bidding when he agreed to the Tate fight (for which Holm was paid handsomely).

Yet, here we are, with Holm’s nose figuratively pressed against the window pane while Tate begins her preparations for Nunes.

To make matters a bit more sticky, the UFC announced last week that bantamweight contenders Cat Zingano and Julianna Pena will fight each other on the UFC 200 undercard. That move greatly reduces Holm’s chances of fighting on that landmark card. It also eliminates two fighters she might have faced were she to take a nontitle fight sometime this summer.

So, is Tate-Nunes the UFC’s revenge on Team Holm for taking the Tate fight? Is it rather, or also, the UFC’s revenge for Team Holm having turned down an offer to fight Cris Cyborg in Brazil on May 14? Did the UFC already know Holm wasn’t getting a return match with Tate when it offered the Cyborg fight and just, uh, forgot to tell?

We don’t know and perhaps never will.

What we know for sure is that had Holm defeated Tate, she’d still be the champion and a Nunes-Tate fight would be meaningless for everyone except Nunes and Tate.

No one has to tell Holm that.

“I’m the one that’s coming off a loss,” she said at a news conference on March 30. “I can’t expect to have everything handed to me.

“So we’ll see what happens.”

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