Boxing champion Holly Holm folded Jan Finney with a kick Friday in New Mexico. | Photo: Wilson Fox
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. -- Jan Finney figured to serve as a decent measuring stick in the burgeoning mixed martial arts career of world champion boxer Holly Holm.
If Friday night at the Route 66 Casino was any indication, Holm’s future inside the cage -- wherever that might take her -- is bright indeed. At Fresquez Productions “Clash in the Cage,” Holm took another step forward in her evolution as a fighter by taking a third-round TKO victory over the well-traveled Finney.
In the third round, Holm put an exclamation point on her second career MMA victory with a kick that landed just below Finney’s ribcage and left her opponent doubled over on the mat in pain. Holm rushed in as the Strikeforce veteran lay prone on the mat, but referee Richard Espinosa stopped the bout before any more significant damage could be done at 2:39 of the final round.
It was an emphatic ending to a bout that began tentatively, as Holm spent much of the first round trying to get a feel for the Ohioan’s strategy.
“We don’t know what kind of game plan she had,” Holm said. “She’s a real well-rounded fighter, so I didn’t know if she was gonna come out shooting, or she was gonna come out striking, and I just didn’t want to be reckless or careless. I just kind of wanted to pick my own shots. I didn’t want to leave it up to her.”
Finney was able to clinch with Holm on a couple of occasions in the opening frame, but the Jackson’s MMA product was able to escape and avoid any significant damage from that position. That, along with a couple of solid right hands, was the extent of Finney’s offense for the night.
“I just felt like we were getting kind of stagnant there [in the clinch]. I thought, ‘Well, I’m not getting anything done here, so why be there. So I just kind of kept the distance,” she said.
Finney’s corner urged their fighter to engage, but Holm’s speed and accuracy allowed her keep Finney at bay.
It was more of the same in the final stanza. Holm continued to punish her opponent until she landed the decisive kick -- a move that trainer Mike Winkeljohn later said might have connected with Finney’s liver.
The finish was set up because Holm’s corner recognized Finney’s propensity for using her right hand.
“She wanted to counter Holly with right hands,” Winkeljohn said. “Every time [Holm] threw a kick, every time she threw a punch, [Finney] wanted to counter with a right hand. Holly saw it so she started giving space every time the girl threw it and re-countering her counter. Once we got a little more comfortable, Holly started zeroing in on what she wanted to hit and we knew the body kick would be there.”
In the evening’s co-main event, Jackson’s MMA representative Travis Marx forced Mikey Lovato to tap to strikes at 1:38 of the opening round of their bantamweight affair.
Clearly the bigger and stronger fighter, Marx connected with a kick that appeared to hurt Lovato as the Albuquerque native shot for a takedown. Lovato held onto the single leg as he went to the ground, and from there Marx pummeled him with punches and elbows.
Lovato was unable to move Marx from his dominant position, and eventually the former Utah highway patrolman was able to find an opening.
“Sprawling I started looking and I see droplets of blood. I knew I had cut him, but I don’t know where at this point,” Marx explained. “I was waiting and listening to his corner telling him to try and lift me. So I started trying the short elbows and hammer fists. One short elbow ended up landing really good, and he immediately covered that side. As he covered that side, I saw his other side exposed pretty well, and I just remembered seeing a big old cauliflower ear … so I just blasted that ear. I threw another one on that same ear and then he tapped.”
Two professional bouts kicked of the main portion of the card.
At welterweight, Roswell, N.M., native Candido Andazola spoiled Chavez Dojo representative Lalo Chavez’s debut, submitting him with a triangle choke at 2:23 of the second round.
In a featherweight tussle, Andres Quintana scored a technical knockout of Shaun Henson at 1:12 of the opening period.
In the evening’s amateur fights, Nick Gonzalez tapped Michael Diaz with a rear-naked choke at 2:52 of the second round in a bantamweight bout; Kevin Smith submitted Raymundo Leon with the same move at 1:53 of round two in a lightweight showdown; Juan Torres armbarred Anthony Debelak at 2:53 of the opening frame in a middleweight bout; Steve Garcia defeated Brandon Trujillo by TKO at 2:52 of the opening round in a 145-pound contest; Ray Martinez defeated Wesley Bartlett via guillotine choke at 1:07 in the opening round at 135 pounds.