Holly Holm (right) will square off with Angela Hayes on Dec. 6. | Will Fox/Sherdog.com
With a dominant victory over Nikki Knudsen barely in her rearview mirror, Holly Holm already has her sights set on a new adversary.
Lenny Fresquez, Holm’s longtime promoter/manager, revealed on Tuesday that the former world boxing champion will face Angela Hayes on Dec. 6 at the Route 66 Casino in Albuquerque. The announcement comes just four days after Holm earned a second-round technical knockout victory over Knudsen at Legacy Fighting Championship 24 in Dallas.
“It’s been a really fun year for me, but it’s been a busy year,” Holm said. “For some reason, I’m actually still really into training – so that’s a good thing. I’m really excited about MMA. It’s sparked a new interest for me and sparked a new fire for me. Hopefully we’ll just keep building.”
Holm, who turns 32 on Thursday, isn’t exaggerating about her hectic itinerary. The Jackson’s Mixed Martial Arts product began 2013 with a second-round technical knockout triumph over Katie Merrill at Bellator 91 in February. In May, she capped off a wildly successful pro boxing career with a unanimous verdict over Mary McGee, her retirement from the sweet science fueled by a desire to focus on MMA full-time.
“The Preacher’s Daughter” then inked a four-fight deal with the Texas-based LFC organization, where her hot streak has continued. Prior to mowing down Knudsen, Holm scored a spectacular head-kick KO against Allanna Jones in July. Overall, the New Mexican is 5-0 in her new venture, with all of her victories coming by way of knockout or technical knockout.
Hayes, 40, is the most experienced opponent Holm has faced since she beat former Strikeforce 145-pound title challenger Jan Finney in September 2011. The Rough House MMA & Fitness product is 6-6 as a professional, though she has not competed since a first-round submission triumph over Trisha Clark on Nov. 18, 2011. Hayes has won five of her last six bouts overall and owns five of her six career victories by way of tapout. Despite her track record for submissions, Hayes says she will not shy away from trading with Holm.
“I definitely give it to her that she is a boxer that can actually throw decent kicks,” Hayes said. “You don’t find a lot of boxers that do that. I think that’s great; I want to stand up and bang with her. I’m not really a ground person. I’m all about standing up and banging. I appreciate the kicks and I’ll look out for them, but I’ve got some pretty good kicks myself.”
Fresquez told Sherdog.com that Holm, provided she gets past Hayes, will be fighting for a title in the first quarter of 2014. He did not, however, reveal under which promotional banner such a bout will take place. In the meantime, Fresquez remains confident about Holm’s chances to make a serious impact in the UFC when the time is right. Until that moment arrives, he says that his fighter will remain as active as possible.
“Holly’s not the normal UFC fighter. She’s already better than most of their UFC fighters,” Fresquez said. “They are looking for the fans to warm up to Holly, but I’m introducing her to the world. She’s already known to the world.
“… I’m not saying she’s ready to go fight Ronda Rousey right now, but I can tell you she’s 12 months from being ready to fight her,” he continued. “I don’t know how that would play out in the UFC’s schedule, because they have a very complex schedule. We’re not going to sit down and wait for the UFC, or wait for anybody. We’ve been very successful with her career. I hope that we get to work with the UFC, because our ultimate goal is to be UFC champion, but it has to make monetary sense for us. It doesn’t make sense for us to go backward in pay scale.”
Mike Winkeljohn, Holm’s longtime coach, took a slightly different course when assessing Holm’s future prospects. Still, much of the unwavering confidence carries over from promoter to trainer.
“Maybe by the third quarter of 2014 [she’ll be ready for the UFC]. Two or three more fights to build Holly and put her in the right position with the right opponents. It’s hard to find her an opponent,” Winkeljohn said. “We’re building her and we’re trying to make her better at what she does. Right now, I’m confident she can walk through most of what the UFC has, but we’re not ready for the top ones yet.”