I can still compete with the best in the

Former bantamweight world champion Holly Holm (11-4) didn’t waste energy prognosticating about possible future opportunities and circumstances when she decided to accept a fight with featherweight title-holder Megan Anderson this Saturday in Chicago at UFC 225.

“This was the fight so I thought, ‘sounds good, let’s take it.’ That’s as far as I thought into it. I didn’t think too much further past that,” she told us in an exclusive conversation Thursday afternoon.

Holm has fought twice before at featherweight for gold inside the UFC’s octagon after earning the top stop at 135 pounds. Though a win over Anderson would certainly push her back closer to another featherweight title shot in the future, Holm’s decision to face her younger and larger opponent this week wasn’t because ‘The Preacher’s Daughter’ is locking herself into bouts in one particular division over another from here on out.

Holm sounded open to whatever the future may hold but with a healthily myopic focus on the challenge in front of her. “I know I trained hard and I’m hard. I don’t want to over think it and wear myself out with it, stressing about it, and I definitely don’t want to not think about it at all and then it comes and then I’m not ready,” she continued.

“So, I just focus on the fight, but not think about it too much or get too crazy with getting emotional.”

Prior to becoming an MMA world champion, Holm was a champion boxer and kickboxer. All in all, she is already one of the most accomplished combat athletes in sporting history.

Given that, we asked how Holm keeps herself motivated and interested enough in each new challenge to stay sharp. “I don’t know. I mean, there’s days where I definitely feel like I don’t want to train, because it’s work (laughs) and that’s how work is, especially when you have a fight coming up and there’s that added stress of a deadline coming up and it’s constantly in your mind,” she explained.

“I don’t know. Each time I’m done with a good day of training I’m like, ‘that feels good.’ As long as I feel like that, I know I still want to do this. I don’t want to be looking too far past that. If I really think and ask, ‘what else would I want to be doing?’, nothing. This is still what I want to do.”

Holm has trained and fought since she was a young woman and, it seems, still can’t think of any other profession that appeals to her as much as the one she’s worked in for so long. Work is always work, but she still finds herself feeling happy and accomplished and driven after most days on the job, and that goes a long way.

Beyond that, Holm rightly sees herself as still quite competitive at the top of the sport, despite having lost four out of her last five contests.

Three of those losses were close decisions and one was a technical submission late in a fight she had previously been winning. So, even though the final scores haven’t been going her way, of late, Holm sees no reason to doubt her capabilities inside the ring.

“I definitely don’t want to be the fighter that everyone thinks should retire,” she admitted.

“I’ve had some losses but they’ve been very competitive and the only thing that’s done is make me more hungry for a victory. I still love it and I know that I’m still there competing with the best in the world.”

About the author:
Elias Cepeda is a host of Sports Illustrated’s Extra Rounds Podcast, a staff writer at FloCombat, and has a regular column for The UG Blog.

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