Holly Holm is hoping for a return to the cage early next year and is interested in a potential showdown against Julianna Pena.
Holm revealed during a chat with reporters at the UFC 281 media day that she is expecting to return to the cage early next year. When asked about a Julianna Pena fight, she said she’s interested, detailing why she feels they have “unfinished business”.
“It does interest me. (The) last year’s been definitely a challenging year for me. It’s been a great year. Life’s still a big blessing. But I wound up having to have my kidney surgery, and so that’s why that fight didn’t go through. I had to pull out, and maybe that’s unfinished business we need to take care of now. So who knows.” she said.
‘The Preacher’s Daughter’ was scheduled to face Pena at a UFC Fight Night event in May 2021 but was was forced to withdraw after being diagnosed with hydronephrosis.
Since that time, Pena went on to shock the world by submitting Amanda Nunes to capture the UFC bantamweight championship. She would go on to lose the belt to Nunes in the rematch earlier this year. Holm discussed the two Nunes vs. Pena fights during the chat.
“In their first fight, I know she got submitted. But from the minute the fight was going, it was the jab that set it all up, actually. Going into the rematch, I thought as long as Nunes changes her game plan a little bit – because she kept walking into that jab and she wound up coming in and she fought lefty a lot, and she took away that direct jab, and then she was able to impose her will. So I wasn’t surprised that she was able to come in and dominate the fight. I know she has it in her. She’s a champion for a reason. She’s been there. She’s defended it.” she said.
The recently turned 41-year-old is coming off a controversial split decision loss to Ketlen Vieira. Prior to the defeat, she was on a two-fight win streak with decision victories over Raquel Pennington and Irene Aldana. Earlier this year, Holm was inducted into the International Boxing Hall of Fame.
A fight between Holm and Pena would certainly be an exciting bout of two former UFC bantamweight champions. Holm herself won the belt back in 2015 after knocking out Ronda Rousey by way of a stunning head kick in the second round.