Ronda Rousey will defend her bantamweight title against Holly Holm at UFC 195, January 2nd, in Las Vegas.
“She’s definitely my biggest challenge to date, so I’m super excited about it,” Rousey said while announcing the fight on ABC’s “Good Morning America.”
“I prepare for a five-round war every time I get in there. No one’s easy until after you beat them, and with Holly Holm, she’s the type that is ready to go 12 boxing rounds. She’s not the average chick that I fight. She’s the best striker I’ve ever fought, and striking is something I learned much later in my career. So I don’t ever expect fights to be easy and fast. No one knows exactly how the fights are going to go, and that’s why everybody buys them.”
Holm’s signing with the UFC last year was met with great fanfare in the sport following her decorated boxing career that included being named Ring Magazine’s female fighter of the year twice. She was 33-2-3 as a boxer with nine knockouts.
But the Albuquerque fighter has yet to throw a knockout punch in two fights in the UFC octagon and is the ninth-ranked bantamweight. Her Feb. 28 debut victory on a Rousey card at Staples Center was lackluster. She beat Raquel Pennington by split decision.
Holm beat Marion Reneau more convincingly on July 15, out-striking Reneau, 65-26. The UFC calls Holm “the most dangerous and accomplished fighter Rousey has ever faced,” and an upset victory would make her the first to win a major boxing title and a UFC belt.
Rousey (12-0) showed her improved punching power this month, knocking out Bethe Correia 34 seconds into their bout in Brazil.
Rousey has dominated her last four opponents, with the fights lasting just 34 seconds, 14 seconds, 16 seconds and 66 seconds.
The 28-year-old Venice fighter has gained film roles in “The Fast and the Furious” and “The Expendables” series. Her appearance Friday on “Good Morning America” to announce her next fight is an example of her mainstream appeal.
UFC President Dana White did not immediately respond to questions about Rousey’s fight with Holm, but the organization opted after reviewing the situation to give Rousey an opponent she hadn’t fought before rather than a third date with Tate.
Tate, after being the only fighter to take Rousey past the first round in 2013, told The Times earlier this month that until a Rousey fight deal was signed, she wasn’t certain it would happen, noting “you can’t always believe” what White says.
Tate is expected to be assigned a bout soon against a top-five field that includes recent Rousey victims Cat Zingano and Alexis Davis, along with Amanda Nunes.