Holly Holm goes into the International Boxing Hall of Fame on June 12. The ‘Preacher’s Daugher,’ who moved from boxing to a full-time MMA career in 2013, compiled a 33-2-3 record as a pro boxer over more than a decade in the ring—picking up titles across three different divisions. In short, the former UFC women’s bantamweight champ knows a lot about both boxing and mixed martial arts. And she has a few ideas when it comes to the debate over what it means to be named the “best boxer in MMA.”
“I think people talk about certain people’s boxing but even boxing in MMA, you’re at a longer range because you still have to worry about kicks and there’s always clinching involved with that,” Holm told MMA Fighting. “So you can clinch and throw punches out of that. I just feel like it’s hard to say, ‘Oh, this person’s the best boxer in MMA.’ It’s really hard.
“There’s some [fighters] that don’t mind exchanging and they focus more on their standup than their grappling, but as far as being the best boxer, it’s really hard to put a name on it. I’m afraid to even throw out a couple names right now cause I could argue both sides of it. You have people that are sometimes just harder to hit because they have a long reach but are they using their MMA stance to keep that range and still land their punches? Like that’s a good boxing sense in MMA. But would it be the same if they were just in boxing? It’s hard to say.”
And while Holm could certainly make her own case for being named among the best crossovers from one sport to the other, given what she accomplished in both, it doesn’t seem like she’s set on naming any one MMA fighter who she thinks has the best fistic skills inside the Octagon.
“A lot of these MMA fighters do have boxing because that is part of mixed martial arts,” Holm said. “That is an art that is part of mixed martial arts. But it’s still different if you compete with it. [People] always say what do you think is harder, boxing or MMA? Is it easier to go from boxing to MMA or MMA to boxing? I definitely think it’s easier to go from MMA to boxing because you already have some knowledge of boxing because it’s part of MMA.
“To go from boxing to MMA, you only know boxing and all of a sudden you’ve got to learn everything. Clinch, ground game, wrestling, cage work, all of it. Kicks, knees, elbows, everything. To go from MMA to boxing, you at least have some knowledge of boxing but it’s still different.”
As Holm lays out, it’s difficult to really make the argument about who is or isn’t the best boxer in MMA a serious debate, just because of how many other factors come into play in a mixed martial arts fight. The best talents inside the cage have to mold their skills to the competition. Whether that kind of work would truly leave many of them fit to compete at a high level under ‘Queensberry rules’ is hard to parse without actually seeing them fight in a pair of 10oz gloves.
Holm has been sidelined since she defeated Irene Aldana in October 2020. The ex-champ was scheduled to face Norma Dumont in a featherweight scrap in October, but she withdrew from the fight due to injury. No word yet on when she might be ready to make her return to competition.