SINGAPORE — For the first two rounds of the fight between Holly Holm and Bethe Correia, the brutal crowd that packed the Singapore Indoor Stadium rained down boos on the two fighters. Coming off a supporting main event where both veteran Andrei Arlovski and eventual winner Marcin Tybura looked gassed after the first round, the 8,411 paying patrons demanded a strong finish to the night.
There were great performances in Fight Night Singapore. Jon Tuck scored perhaps the biggest victory of his life as he choked out Japanese legend Takanori Gomi. Ulka Sasaki, the co-winner for Performance of the Night, snatched a victory from the jaws of defeat as he submitted Justin Scoggins.
However, the night did not have a signature moment yet and so the people expected the main event to provide it.
No one was surprised when it was announced that a women’s fight will be the main event in Singapore. Even if Holm had lost her last three fights after knocking out Ronda Rousey for the women’s bantamweight title, the fans knew what they were getting from the Preacher’s Daughter. Correia would be a willing dance partner as she’s someone who would willingly exchange heavy leather with Holm.
The first 10 minutes were slow and uneventful. Correia tried her best to cut the distance and get inside her opponent’s reach advantage. Holm, on the other end, refused to engage. She circled around the cage, evading instead of fighting.
The biggest cheer belonged to the referee who stopped the action to talk to both fighters to step up the aggression.
The crowd was still in the middle of their boos when Holm feinted a leg kick. When she saw Correia react, she converted it into a head kick. Holm’s shin connected with the side of her opponent’s face. Correia fell back and she was joined there almost immediately in Holm’s fist.
And just like that, the fight was over. Just like that, the boos were gone. Replaced with cheers and applause. They got the signature moment that they wanted and Holm got the victory that she deserved.
“With this win, I feel great right now. I know the first two rounds were slow, but I wanted to pick my shots and not make it too messy out there,” Holm explained after the match.
“I picked the shot I wanted and got the finish. In my last two fights my opponents countered me, so I countered tonight. We figured she would get frustrated and that’s what opened up the opportunity for the head kick.”
Holm is by no means a young fighter at 35 years old. She spent most of her prime years dominating the welterweight division in boxing. Hold amassed a record of 33 wins against 2 losses and 3 draws. However, she never gained mainstream popularity.
She finally got it when she kicked Rousey on the head and broke her cloak of invincibility. After that, things should have fallen into place for Holm. She’s worked so hard and now she was about to reap the benefits of knocking out the most popular female mixed martial artist of all time.
It did not happen that way. In her first defense the UFC title Holm won from Rousey, she was choked out by Miesha Tate. Then she lost to Valentina Shevchenko. Then she dropped a painfully close decision to Germaine de Randamia for the featherweight belt. And that’s why it’s easy to understand why Holm took the slow and steady route against Correia.
Nothing she ever got came easily. It always took patience from her and from the people around her.
“I really wanted this for my coaches mostly,” Holm said. “Just imagine how many hours they’ve put into me in this last year and a half. I’m going to enjoy this win tonight and then spend some time with my family.”