Despite being one of the top female fighters on the planet, Holly Holm doesn’t always get the exact type of training she needs.
Holm, 34, trains out of the world famous Jackson-Winklejohn Gym in Albuquerque, New Mexico. In a few days she will meet the UFC’s most popular fighter, Ronda Rousey, in the main event of UFC 193, in what will be the toughest test of her career.
In preparation for the fight – a fight that is expected to break the UFC’s all-time attendance record inside Melbourne’s 70,000-seat Etihad Stadium – Holm has been doing everything in her power to ensure that her +1000 underdog status is nothing more than an educated guess from know-it-all Vegas bookmakers.
And that includes training with some of the best fighters on the planet at Jackson-Winklejohn. However, top-level female training partners are scarce, so Holm often finds herself regularly sparring with the men.
“When I get into a training camp, I do spar 90 percent of the time with the guys,” Holm admitted to Yahoo Sports, “because I need more of that bigger opponent.
“That’s not to say the girls don’t give me a run for my money. They have different things that present problems – their speed, their agility. So, yes, I like to train with everybody, I think you can learn from everybody, but I do like to go with the guys, because I’m the only one that fights at 135 in our gym.”
Jackson-Winklejohn houses some of the greatest fighters in the world, including Jon “Bones” Jones, Donald “Cowboy” Cerrone and Carlos Condit. Holm doesn’t go into specifics on who she actually fights during practice – we highly doubt she is taking high kicks from Jon Jones – but the pedigree of Jackson-Winklejohn would suggest that she’s mixing it up with some of the best in the world on a daily basis.
Coming from the world of boxing, Holm is used to getting hit. Yet, the sport of MMA is still relatively new to the all-world striker. And sometimes during her sparring sessions, things don’t always go as planned.
Holm, like so many fighters, is a perfectionist. She wants her practices to be a success every time she steps inside a cage – sparring with men, or not.
Being hard headed and stubborn is also a great prerequisite for becoming a professional fighter. After all, it takes a ton of perseverance (or delusion, depending on your perspective) to commit yourself to getting punched in the face every day for a living.
But sometimes Holm's emotions get the better of her.
In years past, some of her coaches and training partners would get worried when Holm got frustrated. Occasionally there would be a tear shed.
"I am a girl, so sometimes I get a little more emotional when we're training," Holm said. "There's been tears coming down my face when I'm training and [my teammates] stop. There's always the first time that that happens with one of the teammates and I'm like, 'Just keep going.' "
“...If they land a good shot on me, sometimes it just sparks my…it just depends on where my emotional level is for the day and if it hits me just wrong I get so frustrated with myself. That’s really all it is: just sometimes I let a tear out, squeeze it out, and keep going.”
If Holm is able to conquer “Rowdy” this Saturday, there will be an entirely different kind of tears coming from the challenger.
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