Nunes TKO's Holm in 1st round to retain title
- Jan-Jaap Abbink
Holly Holm knows a little something about head kicks. She had the most historic one in UFC history, when she shocked Ronda Rousey with that variety of knockout nearly four years ago.
On Saturday night, Holm was on the receiving end of one of them by Amanda Nunes, who continues to cement herself as the greatest women's MMA fighter of all time. Nunes landed a right head kick to Holm's face and followed up with a hard right hand on the ground. The TKO finish came at 4 minutes, 10 seconds of the first round in the co-main event of UFC 239 at T-Mobile Arena.
Nunes retained her women's bantamweight title with the victory. She said she told her coach beforehand that she wanted to stop Holm with a head kick, because that is Holm's signature technique. Holm had the only other head-kick knockout in a UFC women's bantamweight title fight, against Rousey in 2015.
Coming in, Nunes, also the featherweight champion, had beaten every other former UFC women's bantamweight or featherweight champion outside of Holm, and now she has defeated Holm as well.
"I told my coaches I wanted to knock her out the same way she knocks people out,'' Nunes said. "I did it tonight. She was the only former champion I didn't beat yet. Now I beat her, and I'm very happy.''
Nunes (17-4) said that she next wanted to defend her featherweight belt to become the only UFC champion to defend two titles while holding them concurrently. The Brazilian slugger, who trains out of American Top Team in Florida, has won nine bouts in a row. Nunes, 31, has four first-round finishes in title fights, tied for second with Matt Hughes. Rousey is first with five.
UFC president Dana White reiterated his stance that Nunes ranks among the greatest MMA fighters ever, putting her alongside the likes of Anderson Silva, Georges St-Pierre and Jon Jones.
White said he was open to booking a rematch between Nunes and Cris Cyborg, who lasted only 51 seconds against Nunes in December.
"This woman is tough, man," White said of Nunes. "She's unbelievable. Pound for pound, one of the greatest of all time. But there will be somebody next."
Holm (12-5) had won two of her past three fights. The former three-division world champion boxer has now lost in four UFC title fights. Holm, 37, is only 2-5 since her knockout of Rousey at UFC 193.