SINGAPORE: Holly Holm and Bethe Correia both have a common point: They faced former Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) Women’s Bantamweight champion Ronda Rousey in 2015. Come June, they will have another - facing off against each other at UFC Fight Night Singapore.
The two exponents' careers have taken different directions since their fight with Rousey.
For 33-year-old Correia, the knock-out defeat against Rousey about three years ago was the first of two losses in her mixed martial arts (MMA) career. The Brazilian – nicknamed “The Pitbull" – later suffered a further defeat against Raquel Pennington in April 2016 before bouncing back with a split-decision win against Jessica Eye five months later.
She then notched a draw in March this year against Marion Reneau after three rounds at UFC Fight Night 106 in Brazil.
Holm's career, however, has been on a downward trend. The 35-year-old American's bantamweight title win against then-undefeated Rousey in UFC 193 was followed by three straight defeats, snapping her 10-bout win streak.
Said Correia in a conference call on Friday: “Ever since the fight against Ronda (Rousey), I’m now a completely different fighter. I’m faster, stronger and more innovative in fights as well.
“Now I’m known all over the world and people respect me for my game and because of that I think I deserve to be on the main event of the Asian leg of the UFC.”
“It’s very important to learn from your losses, and I learnt a lot from my fight with Ronda back then. I learnt that I can indeed be stronger and be able to overcome anything,” added Correia.
Aware of her sliding form, Holm insisted that she is working on her game in time for the clash against the Brazilian in Singapore next month. “Everyone talks about the (2015) fight with Ronda, but I’ve really been trying to improve in other aspects as well.”
“The fact remains that I haven’t been really able to show the best of me yet, and show what I’m really capable of. Despite my losses, I’ll keep moving forward and try to improve on my (abilities)."
PUTTING ON A GOOD PERFORMANCE
Securing a win against Correia on Jun 17 at the Singapore Indoor Stadium is of utmost importance according to Holm, who is adding more to her game. “My ground game is always improving. I’m always trying to improve my jab, but there’s a lot of things that go into a good ground game."
She added: “A lot of times people ask if I’m going to cut out jiu-jitsu – in my last few fights I didn’t really get to show how much I’ve improved in it. I’ve learnt a lot and I’ve got a whole new appreciation and love for it.”
The MMA fighter, nicknamed "The Preacher’s Daughter", said: “In a fight, you’re incorporating strikes and everything and things can change very fast. But I want to be good in everything – be it on my back or in stand up.
“I want to be comfortable with where the fight takes.”
A CORREIA-ROUSEY REMATCH?
As for Correia, her strategy involves exploiting Holm’s repeated errors in the octagon. “I’m very confident of my own work, my strategy would be to move forward (and) fight at short distances, and explore Holm’s flaws. I’ve studied her losses especially against Germaine (de Randamie) and Miesha (Tate) and I think Holm tends to make the same mistakes."
Although the fight is more than a month away, Correia says that she’s already mentally ready. “I’m at 100 per cent, prepared, very determined and strong. Most importantly I’m feeling happy and when I’m happy I tend to fight better.
“I wake up with the sole purpose of just to train, and I’m optimistic that I’ll put on a great show for everyone so that they can see how happy I am to be fighting.”
According to Correia, it’s a rematch against Rousey that she most desires, even though the 35-year-old knows it may not ever happen. “I think Ronda is really upset about her defeats ... she doesn’t know how to deal with losses, and that’s why she threatened to retire the first time.”
“If there was a rematch with me and her I would gladly take it up, as there’s still unresolved business. But I don’t think it will happen as I don’t believe she even trains anymore."