Holly Holm would be eager to welcome Ronda Rousey back to Octagon, but isn’t expecting that

Holly Holm was inducted into the International Boxing Hall of Fame on June 12, 2022. She’ll likely make the UFC Hall of Fame when she retires from MMA, though she’s closing in on 42 years old and showing no signs of hanging up the gloves.

She’s fought the best of her era in two sports and has done what few could ever achieve. She’s the only person, male or female, to win a major boxing world title as well as a UFC championship.

Her reign as the UFC’s bantamweight champion was short — she held the belt for under five months (10 days under, to be exact) — and hasn’t been able to regain it. Holm, though, hasn’t given up.

She’s taking a challenge by facing up-and-comer Mayra Bueno Silva, who is 10th in the bantamweight rankings, on Saturday in the main event of UFC Vegas 77 at Apex in Las Vegas. Holm is ranked third and still has her eye on another title shot, so facing someone so far beneath her in the rankings is no doubt a risk.

With the retirement of double champion Amanda Nunes, the title picture is wide open. There remains no clear answer whether the UFC will continue to run a featherweight division, while at bantamweight, Julianna Peña and Raquel Pennington are expected to fight for the vacant crown.

But things could change dramatically if a rumor that bantamweight Chelsea Chandler said she heard is true. Chandler, the No. 15-ranked bantamweight who fights Norma Dumont in a featherweight bout, stunned the media on Wednesday when she said there is talk of Ronda Rousey returning to the UFC.

Holm knocked out Rousey in 2015 to win the bantamweight belt in one of the most famous UFC bouts ever. Rousey returned 13 months later and was knocked out in a title bout by Nunes. She retired from MMA and become a WWE wrestler after that.

She’s been gone from MMA for 5½ years, but Chandler brought it up out of nowhere.

“I’ve been hearing Ronda is coming back,” Chandler said. “I’ve heard she’s coming back at 145.”

That would greatly impact Holm, who made her name in MMA by dominating Rousey. Holm was 10-0 after defeating Rousey, but was choked out by Miesha Tate in her next fight and has gone 5-6 in the 11 bouts after her greatest win.

Holm has fought the elite of the elite in her MMA stint, including bouts with Nunes, Rousey, Tate, Valentina Shevchenko, Germaine de Randamie and Cris “Cyborg” Justino. She was on top of the world after her win over Rousey and instantly went from the star boxer who happened to fight MMA to one of the biggest stars in the UFC.

 

MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA - NOVEMBER 15:  (R-L) Holly Holm of the United States punches Ronda Rousey of the United States in their UFC women's bantamweight championship bout during the UFC 193 event at Etihad Stadium on November 15, 2015 in Melbourne, Australia. (Photo by Josh Hedges/Zuffa LLC/Zuffa LLC via Getty Images)

Holly Holm (R) would be eager to face Ronda Rousey (L) again, but said she’s not sure if Rousey is really motivated to fight MMA any more. (Josh Hedges/Getty Images)

A fight with Rousey, whether at bantamweight or at featherweight, would ignite Holm’s career again. She’s been around a long time in combat sports, though, and isn’t getting her hopes up too high. She knows it’s unlikely, but would be glad to share the cage with Rousey in the event it turns out to be more than just a rumor.

“I don’t know if she’ll really come back,” Holm said. “Who knows if it’s just talk? I know she’s a very competitive person. There’s a reason why she was an Olympian. There’s a reason why she was a champion for so long. But I would absolutely re-do that fight, and at either weight. … I know she’s been pretty busy with her life. Whatever she wants to do, more power to her, but if she comes back, it would be great to fight again.”

Given that Holm has no plans to retire, a win over Bueno Silva would seem to keep her in the mix for another championship bout given that Peña and Pennington are the only two fighters ranked ahead of her in the division. She’s already beaten Pennington twice, though Peña is the only big name of her era she hasn’t faced.

Holm has always been grounded, though, and knows nothing positive happens for her with a loss to Bueno Silva. So she’s shelving the Rousey talk and the title talk and focusing on what she needs to do to get past Silva on Saturday.

“If they offer you a fight and you don’t take it, you can be sat down for a while,” Holm said. “It is a big risk to take a fight with a lower-ranked fighter because at this point, anybody in the top 10 is really tough. I have everything to lose and she has everything to gain. There’s a lot of pressure with that, but I think a champion should be able to walk in and take care of it one way or another.”

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