Holm faces ‘different fight’ today at UFC 219

Albuquerque’s Holly Holm, right, watches Brazils Cristiane Cyborg Justino weigh in on Friday in Las Vegas, Nev., for their Saturday fight at UFC 219

LAS VEGAS, Nev. — For Albuquerque’s Holly Holm, tonight is essentially a been-here but decidedly not a done-that.

This one’s different.

For the second time in her MMA career, Holm will face a seemingly indestructible champion with the champion’s UFC title at stake. In November 2015, that opponent was Ronda Rousey. Tonight, it’s Brazil’s Cristiane “Cyborg” Justino.

Holm-Cyborg, for the latter’s UFC featherweight title, is the main event of UFC 219 at T-Mobile Arena just off the Vegas Strip.

The combat-sports world will long remember Holm’s spectacular upset victory over Rousey in Melbourne, Australia. Holm remembers it, too, of course, and cherishes the memory.

And, yes, knowing she’s capable of such a thing gives her confidence that she can do it again.

“Yes, I’ve had the experience of fighting on such a big card for a title before and having a lot of pressure on you,” Holm (11-3) said during Thursday’s interview session at T-Mobile. “… Knowing I’ve gone through this before has helped.”

Cyborg, though, is not Rousey. No one, including Holm, expects the powerful Brazilian fighter to be exhausted and defenseless by the end of the first round, as Rousey was that night in Australia before succumbing to a Holm head kick in the second.

“This is a different fight,” Holm said, “so there’s different thoughts, different nerves, different game plans, different things going through my head.”

Yet, the Holm camp’s game plan for Cyborg (18-1) likely isn’t terribly different from that formulated for Rousey 25 months ago: move and counter. Use your opponent’s trademark aggressiveness against her. Exploit your superior hand speed and superior striking technique. Frustrate her, take her into the later rounds where she rarely has had to go. Look for an opening to deliver a lethal head kick.

Above all, stay off the ground.

To say that’s easier said than done is, well, strikingly apparent from a glance at Cyborg’s record. Of her 18 victories, 16 have come by knockout or TKO. Though she has never won a fight by submission, she has brutalized many a victim with powerful strikes on the ground.

“I always respect my opponents and I always am ready for war,” Cyborg said recently on a UFC 219 teleconference. “You know, you kill or you die.”

Cyborg has sought to refine her boxing skills by working with Norway’s Cecilia Braekhus, generally considered the world’s best professional boxer, and two-time Olympic gold medalist Claressa Shields in preparation for Holm.

This bothers Holm not at all.

“That actually makes me feel good that she felt she needed to reach out everywhere else,” Holm said. “Because I didn’t have to do that. I had confidence in my team and in the coaches that I have with me every day.”

In her interactions with Cyborg this week, Holm has been coldly polite.

The two had become friendly, if not friends, while shooting scenes for a movie called “Fight Valley” in 2015. But Holm became annoyed when Cyborg falsely suggested Holm wasn’t being drug-tested by the United States Anti-Drug Agency as often as Cyborg was.

That little dust-up, Holm said, might make victory a bit sweeter. But that kind of motivation, she added, isn’t something she needs.

“I’ve never felt so friendly with someone that I didn’t want to beat them, even in practice,” she said. “Even with some of my best friends (at Albuquerque’s Jackson-Wink MMA), or even people that I consider to be like family, I still want to hit them more than they hit me.”

Holm has never denied that she has nerves before the fight and has always said fear of losing is one of her greatest motivations.

Of the task before her tonight, she said, “I’m comfortable with the fact that it’s uncomfortable. There’s a lot of nerves and anxiety.

“… But you just have to let it be.”

Holm weighed in Friday at 144 pounds, one pound under the featherweight limit. Cyborg, who in the past has struggled to make weight, hit 145 on the nose.

Albuquerque’s Carlos Condit (30-10), making his return to MMA after a 16-month hiatus, weighed 170.5 pounds — an allowable half-pound over the welterweight limit — for his comeback fight on the main card against Denver’s Neil Magny (19-6), who also weighed 170.5.

“Honestly, I don’t make any predictions,” Condit said. “I feel good. I feel like I’ve prepared well, and now I just have to get out there and fight to the best of my abilities and do what I do.

“In the past, when I do that, I come out on top and get my hand raised.”

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Report: Padilla falsified Tapia DNA test

Jerry Padilla Sr., Johnny Tapia's father
Jerry Padilla Sr. at the viewing of “Tapia” at the Santa Fe Independent Film Festival in 2013. (Adrian Gomez/Journal file)

Saturday at the Civic Plaza, an amateur boxing card will be held in honor of the late amateur and professional champion boxing champion Johnny Tapia. Earlier in the day, Wells Park Community Center will officially be renamed “The Johnny Tapia Community Center at Wells Park.”
Jerry Padilla won’t be at the Civic Plaza, or at Wells Park. Or, if he is, he’ll be in violation of the law.
Friday, KOAT-TV reported that Padilla, who in 2010 was introduced at Tapia’s long-lost biological father, falsified the DNA test that led to the announcement that he was Tapia’s father. Padilla will be required to pay for fraud, breach of contract and attorney’s fees, according to the KOAT report.
In March, the Journal reported that a court-ordered DNA test indicated that Padilla and Tapia could not be related.
According to Bernalillo County District Court records, Padilla has been ordered by the court not to attend the ceremony at the community center or the amateur boxing card at Civic Plaza.
Tapia, a five-time world professional champion and a two-team Golden Gloves national amateur champion, died from heart disease in 2012.
GADELHA LOSES: In Saitama, Japan, Jessica Andrade defeated fellow Brazilian MMA fighter Claudia Gadelha by unanimous decision on a UFC Fight Night card. Gadelha trains in Albuquerque at Luttrell-Yee MMA. Andrade is 17-6, Gadelha 15-3.
The judges’ scores were 30-25, 30-26 and 30-27.

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MMA: Jones’ “B” sample positive

The “B” sample of the urine specimen collected from MMA fighter Jon Jones on July 28 has tested positive for an anabolic steroid, a United States Anti-Drug Agency spokesman said Tuesday.
The news was first reported by espn.com.
It earlier was revealed that the “A” sample provided by Jones, who lives and trains in Albuquerque, tested positive for Turinabol. The samples were taken after the weigh-in for Jones’ victorious July 29 fight against champion Daniel Cormier for the UFC light heavyweight title in Anaheim, Calif.

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MMA: Holm head kick stops Correia

It had been a long time between back flips.
Saturday in Singapore, Albuquerque’s Holly Holm flipped the script on her MMA career — flooring Brazil’s Bethe Correia with a spectacular head kick and finishing her with a left hand to the jaw before referee Marc Goddard stepped in.
The end came at 1 minute, 9 seconds of the third round. Afterward, coach Mike Winkeljohn assisted Holm in her signature victory back flip — something that hadn’t been seen since November 2015, when the Albuquerque southpaw scored her unforgettable victory over Ronda Rousey in Australia.
Since then, Holm had lost three fights in a row.
“Amazing,” Holm (11-3) said in the octagon afterward. “… There’s so many people who supported me through these three losses.
“This fight was for them.”
Actually, for the first two rounds, there was barely a fight at all.
Holm, typically a tactical fighter, kept her distance while landing the occasional body or leg kick. Correia, normally aggressive, refused to come forward and make the fight. The inaction drew boos from the crowd and action from Goddard, who called the fighters together during the second round and admonished them to pick up the pace.
At a post-fight news conference, Holm said neither the boos nor Goddard were going to keep her from following the fight plan that coaches Winkeljohn and Greg Jackson had devised.
“One of my goals for this fight was to not let it look messy,” she said. “A lot of times that’s (Correia’s) style, she just wants to get in there and make it a brawl, make it look messy.”
Simply because Correia (10-3-1) wasn’t following her script didn’t mean that Holm was going to alter hers.
“I wanted to take a clean shot,” she said. “I wanted to do it right, and the game plan was not to rush anything.
“We knew the crowd might boo. … (But) as soon as I heard it, I just thought, ‘I’m the one in here fighting, I’m gonna stick to the game plan and I’m gonna pick the right shot.'”
So she did.
Early in the third round, Correia taunted Holm — beckoning her to come forward.
Seconds later, Holm obliged with the decisive head kick. Holm’s left shin caught the Brazilian flush on the chin, and down she went.
Correia, badly dazed, raised a hand in an apparent “I’m done” gesture. But Holm stepped in and landed the left hand because Goddard had not yet signaled the end of the fight.
At a post-fight news conference, without sharing specifics, Holm said there definitely was a connection between the taunts and the kick.
“Yeah, there’s a little bit with that and there’s a few more details with that, but I don’t want to let everything out,” she said. “But yeah, the taunting doesn’t do anything to me. That’s never affected me in any fight I’ve ever had.”
For her efforts, Holm was awarded — in addition to her fight purse, thus far undisclosed — a $50,000 performance bonus by the UFC.
Another possible bonus: Albuquerque’s Lenny Fresquez, Holm’s agent, believes Saturday’s victory puts “The Preacher’s Daughter” back in the UFC title picture. That could be at the bantamweight limit of 135 pounds, at which Saturday’s fight was contested, or at the 145-pound featherweight limit.
Holm lost the bantamweight title she’d won from Rousey in losing to Miesha Tate by submission (fifth-round rear naked choke) in March 2016. She lost a bid for the featherweight title to Germaine de Randamie by unanimous decision last February in the first women’s UFC bout fought at that weight.
Fresquez told the Journal via text that there’s no preference as to at which weight a title shot becomes available.
Asked how imminent a title shot might be, Fresquez said he believes Holm’s next fight will be for a belt, unless “they offer us anything (else) that makes sense.”
Holm, for her part, wasn’t looking that far ahead.
All she wanted, she said, was “maybe a beer, some French fries and a beautiful view over Singapore from the top of the hotel.
“It sounds amazing to me right now. That’s my immediate goal, and we’ll see what happens after that.”

ARLOVSKI LOSES: Belarus heavyweight Andrei Arlovski, Holm’s longtime teammate at Albuquerque’s Jackson-Wink MMA, lost to Poland’s Marcin Tybura by unanimous decision on the Singapore card.

Arlovski (25-15) has lost five straight fights and is in jeopardy of being released by the UFC. He did not train at Jackson-Wink for the fight with Tybura (16-2), instead training in Florida, where he has a young son.

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MMA: New Mexicans go 3-1

PUEBLO, Colo. — New Mexico MMA fighters went 3-1 Friday night on a Legacy Fighting Alliance card.
Albuquerque’s Nick Urso (10-2) defeated Brandon Royval (5-3) of Littleton, Colo., by split decision. Urso trains at Jackson-Wink MMA.
Santa Fe’s Jerome Rivera (7-0) defeated Zac Riley (5-4) of Pueblo by unanimous decision. Rivera trains in Albuquerque at Luttrell-Yee MMA.
Albuquerque’s Andrew Tenneson (5-1) defeated Andrew Yates (9-3) of Greeley, Colo., by first-round submission (guillotine choke). Tenneson trains at Jackson-Wink.
Santa Fe’s Joel Whitney (1-3) lost to Denver’s Jordan Titoni (2-1) by third-round submission (rear naked choke). Whitney trains at Santa Fe Brazilian Jiujitsu.

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MMA: Holm has offer

Albuquerque MMA fighter Holly Holm has an offer to fight South Korea’s Ji Yeon Kim on a Jun 17 UFC card in Singapore, Holm’s manager confirmed on Tuesday.
Via text, Albuquerque’s Lenny Fresquez said the offer is being discussed by Holm and her team and has not yet been accepted.
This development does not mean, Fresquez said, that the possibility of a rematch with Dutch fighter Germaine de Randamie is off the table.
De Randamie defeated Holm by unanimous but disputed decision for the inaugural UFC women’s featherweight (145-pound) title on Feb. 11 in Brooklyn, N.Y. Twice, after the second and third rounds, de Randamie hit Holm after the horn had sounded to signify the end of the round.
A protest filed on Holm’s behalf with the New York State Athletic Commission was rejected.
Holm (10-3), the former UFC bantamweight champion, has lost her last three fights since her dramatic, second-round TKO victory over Ronda Rousey for the title in November 2015.
Yeon Kim (6-0-2) would be making her UFC debut.

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UFC 208: Holm-de Randamie live blog by the Journal’s Rick Wright

The decision: 48-47 on all three official cards, all for .. Germaine de Randamie. Albuquerque’s Holly Holm falls to 10-3 in her MMA career. De Randamie becomes the first UFC women’s featherweight champion.

Look for more coverage at abqjournal.com and in Sunday’s print edition.

Now, finally, the main event. With de Randamie already in the Octagon, Holm is about to enter to the sound of bagpipes as she has so often during her combat sports career.

The legendary Anderson Silva gets the decision over Jackson-Wink’s Derek Brunson. Highly questionable but popular with the crowd. Scores: 29-28, 29-28, 30-27, all for Silva. The Journal had it 30-27 for Brunson, as did a few others cage side.

After the first stoppage of the night — Jacare Souza over Tim Boetsch, 1st round kimura — Jackson-Wink middleweight Derek Brunson (16-4) is up next. He’s facing the legendary Brazilian Anderson Silva (33-8).
… Breaking news involving three Jackson-Wink fighters:
The UFC announced Saturday that Albuquerque strawweight Michelle Waterson (14-4) will headline a UFC on Fox card vs. Rose Namajunas (5-3) on a UFC April 15 in Kansas City, Mo.
In the wake of her impressive victory over Paige VanZant, Waterson, who trains at Jackson-Wink, is in New York this week. She did interviews and conducted an open workout in advance of Saturday’s card.
The UFC also announced that Jackson-Wink teammates Cub Swanson and Diego Sanchez will be in action April 22 on a Fight Night card in Nashville, Tenn. Swanson, a featherweight, is matched against Artem Lobov, a Russia native who trains in Ireland and is a teammate of Conor McGregor.
Swanson (24-7 and Lobov (13-12) have exchanged less than pleasant words on Twitter of late.
Sanchez (27-9) is matched against Al Iaquinta (12-3) of New York.

… Greetings from Barclays Center in Brooklyn, N.Y., where Albuquerque’s Holly Holm and The Netherlands’ Germaine de Randamie will meet later tonight (Saturday) in the main event of UFC 208. The fight is for the newly minted UFC women’s featherweight (145-pound) title.WRIGHT Rick_2012
I’ll be blogging here with action as it happens, though there won’t be anything New Mexico-related until well into the night. UFC middleweight Derek Brunson, Holm’s teammate at Albuquerque’s Jackson-Wink MMA, will face MMA and UFC legend Anderson Silva in a featured fight that will precede Holm-de Randamie.
Holm (10-2) is the former UFC bantam weight (135-pound) champion, having defeated Ronda Rousey by second-round TKO on Nov. 14, 2015 in Melbourne, Australia. The victory over Rousey made Holm a national and international celebrity and an overwhelmingly popular figure in her native Albuquerque.
After the victory over Rousey, Holm lost her title to Miesha Tate by fifth-round submission (rear naked choke) in a major upset. Some four months later, Holm lost to Valentina Shevchenko by unanimous decision.
Clearly, tonight’s bout is crucial for the 35-year-old Albuquerquean’s future in the sport. Though Holm has given no indication that she would retire should she lose, a third consecutive loss surely would damage her standing in the UFC, by far MMA’s most powerful organization.
De Randamie (6-3) has less MMA experience than Holm and hasn’t fought as strong opposition. But the Dutch fighter has never lost a striking match — she’s undefeated in a long career as a kickboxer — and most observers believe she can match Holm, a former world champion boxer with a kickboxing background, punch for punch and kick for kick.
De Randamie, in fact, is a slight betting favorite. Among the media, de Randamie seems to have the edge. Among other fighters, it’s Holm.

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MMA: Holm on Live With Kelly

Albuquerque’s Holly Holm is scheduled to appear on Live With Kelly this (Wednesday) morning. Holm is in New York for her fight against The Netherlands’ Germaine de Randamie Saturday night at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn.
Live With Kelly is scheduled to begin at 9 MT on ABC-TV, channel 7.
It will be Holm’s second appearance on the program. She appeared with Kelly Ripa and her then co-host, Michael Strahan, after her victory over previously unbeaten Ronda Rousey in November 2015.

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MMA: Holm to fight for title

Albuquerque’s Holly Holm will be back in action Feb. 11, fighting for a newly minted UFC 145-pound women’s UFC title.
The UFC announced Tuesday that Holm (10-2) will face The Netherlands’ Germaine de Randamie 6-3) for the 145-pound belt at the Barclay Center in Brooklyn, N.Y.
“How awesome is that?” Holm said in an interview with ESPN.com. “In my dream world, I want to win the 145-pound belt and get back the 135-pound belt I lost. I’d like to hold both simultaneously.”
Holm won the UFC bantamweight (135-pound) title in November 2015, defeating previously beaten Ronda Rousey by second-round TKO. Holm lost the title last March in Las Vegas, Nev. to Miesha Tate by fifth-round submission.
In July, Holm lost by unanimous decision to Valentina Shevchenko in Chicago. A broken thumb suffered in that fight kept Holm out of action the remainder of this year.

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MMA: Waterson to face VanZant

Albuquerque MMA fighter Michelle Waterson, out of action since July 2015 because of injuries, will return to the octagon with a big splash on Dec. 17.
Waterson, who trains at Jackson-Wink MMA, is scheduled to face Paige VanZant — of Dancing With The Stars fame — on a UFC on Fox card in Sacramento, Calif.
VanZant (7-3) is the higher-profile fighter. Waterson (13-4) has more experience.
Waterson and VanZant campaign in the strawweight (115-pound) division.

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