Former UFC women’s bantamweight champion Holly Holm bounced back into the win column with a unanimous decision victory over Raquel Pennington at UFC 246.
Holm, who famously knocked out Ronda Rousey with a head kick to win the title back at UFC 193 in 2015, used her slick footwork and kickboxing skills to outmanoeuvre Pennington during their three-round co-main event bout at the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas.
The 38-year-old American, who captured multiple world titles as a boxer before transitioning to mixed martial arts, was determined to get back to winning ways and re-establish her championship credentials after being knocked out by current champion Amanda Nunes at UFC 239 last July.
And “The Preacher’s Daughter” did just that with a controlled performance that saw her win a unanimous decision, with scores of 29-28, 30-27, 30-27 from the three octagonside judges.
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“I feel like I dominated, but I just didn’t do enough damage, that’s what I want to do – damage,” said Holm.
“I never want to make any excuses, a lot happened this camp, but my coaches are so amazing and always worked with me when I was available and we made it happen.”
Holm and Pennington’s meeting in Las Vegas – the co-main bout before Conor McGregor took on Donald Cerrone – was the second of their respective careers, with the pair battling all the way to the scorecards at UFC 184 in February 2015.
Holm took the victory via split decision that night in a fight that Pennington believes she had done enough to win. But there was no dispute this time around, with Holm claiming a more comfortable victory almost five years on from that contest.
It was a welcome tonic for Holm, whose career since rocketing to stardom against Rousey has been plagued by inconsistency.
The Albuquerque, New Mexico native lost her title to Miesha Tate in her first defence, then dropped two more defeats to Valentina Shevchenko and Germaine de Randamie (for the inaugural featherweight title) as she fell into a three-fight losing streak.
She picked up a much-needed victory with a spectacular knockout of Bethe Correia in June 2017, but alternated losses and wins leading into Saturday’s fight with Pennington.
Now Holm will look to register her first back-to-back wins in the UFC since that Rousey fight as she attempts to make another run at championship gold in 2020.