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New UFC Women’s Bantamweight champion Holly Holm was doing the media circuit in Manhattan on Monday, and we were lucky to get a few minutes with the popular fighter in between morning show appearances on Live with Kelly and Michael and before Late Night with Seth Meyers. While the UFC world was shocked by Holm’s one-sided beatdown of Ronda Rousey, it took Holm years of hard work and training to become an overnight success. Muscle & Fitness Hers senior online editor Diana Kelly spoke to Holly Holm about how she prepared for the biggest victory of her career thus far.
Diana Kelly: What’s your training schedule like when preparing for a big fight?
Holly Holm: Monday through Friday every morning we have class and it’s intense. They’re pretty hardcore workouts. Monday there’s MMA sparring, Tuesday is sparring, Wednesday is wrestling, Thursday is MMA day, Friday is wrestling, and Saturday I do sprint runs. So that’s just the morning. Other than that I run five days a week with Saturday’s sprint run being one of them. Monday through Friday four out of the five days I’m running distance as well. I do mitt work three to four times a week. I go back to either jujitsu or wrestling at night Monday through Thursday. I’m working out about four and five hours a day depending [on my schedule]. Sometimes it’s more drilling; sometimes it’s going hard. I usually am doing at least two to three hard workouts and the rest of the time it’s technical drilling. Saturday I just run. The other runs I’m going slowly. I’m not training to be a runner; I’m training to be a fighter. When I sprint run I go as hard as I can. When I do distance runs I don’t care how fast I go. I do it to keep moving, keep the weight coming down and just kinda cruise.
D.K.: How do you get such sculpted arms? Is it all from fighting or do you incorporate strength-training workouts?
H.H.: I do some strength training but most of what I do as far as arms is bodyweight. I’ll do pull-ups, pushups and dips. Of course with fighting, we’re constantly using our arms punching. In the clench you’re wrestling around with other people so they’re constantly being worked. I don’t ever use really heavy weights with my arms. (Kelly Ripa said that “Holly Holms’ arms are what my arms want to be when they grow up” during Holms’ recent appearance on the show.)
D.K.: How did your boxing background help you with heading into the Octagon?
H.H.: I think it was seeing different styles. Every fighter is different and I had to really face a lot of different styles of fighting so that helped me to be able to over the years learn to adjust to what’s coming at me. Not everybody comes at you the same way. Some are offense, some are defense. Some are really offensive, some are counter punchers, so being able to adapt to the different styles helped me the most.
D.K.: What skills do you still feel like you need to strengthen and work on?
H.H.: I still feel like I want to perfect everything. I don’t ever want to feel like I’ve ‘made it’ to a certain point with any of my skills. I always want to feel like I can get better.
D.K.: What do we need to know if we want to execute the perfect head kick ourselves?
H.H.: With punches and kicks a lot of the power comes from the ground so if you throw a punch when your feet aren’t grounded, the punch won’t be as hard. Momentum comes from your feet. Pivot on your standing foot, your hips pivot, everything kind of torques so it whips around. I guess like a baseball player up to bat twists their feet and hips and whips the bat around, that’s what you’re doing with your shin, if your shin is the bat. [D.K.: I’m sure it felt like a bat for Ronda.] Holm laughs. Yeah.
D.K.: How will you balance the media obligations and staying focused on your training?
H.H.: Of course it’s really busy right now, but not every week is going to be like this. There’s going to be a lot of stuff coming up, but there’s going to be a lot of stuff outside of the fighting, stuff that’s required that I can say “yes” or “no” to. I don’t want to get to the point where I feel like I owe everybody me and my time. I’m not owned by anybody but I want to be appreciative of the opportunity. We wouldn’t have a job if we didn’t have fans and we wouldn’t have fans if we didn’t have exposure that the media gives so I have an appreciation for it. It isn’t something I want to go out of my way to do all the time, but I’m okay doing it because how would I be able to have a job and follow my dreams without it?
D.K.: If you could face anyone in the Octagon, male or female, fictional or real, who would it be?
H.H.: Whoever they say and whoever is there. I just like to try to rise to the challenge.
We asked Muscle & Fitness and Muscle & Fitness Hers’ social fans and followers to share their questions for the champ. Here are a few we received:
Liz Josefsberg via Facebook: What do you eat and drink on the day of a fight?
H.H.: A light protein, maybe fish or chicken. I always have sweet potatoes. I might have a peanut butter and jelly sandwich. I might have trail mix. I like to have light proteins and good carbs. I might have some fruits. I don’t want to only do fruit because the sugar doesn’t last with you as long. I feel good when I have a good sweet potato, and nut butters and honey. I snack on stuff the whole time I’m in the locker room. I don’t want to be too full and have too much at one time, so I’ll eat little bites here and there, all the way up until about 30 to 45 minutes before the fight. [On a regular day] I eat about 30 to 45 minutes before I go to the gym and I feel like it’s pretty similar [to what I eat on a fight day]. Keeping the same kind of clean foods.
Elena Pavloff via Facebook: How do you mentally prepare for a big fight? What’s the process of prepping to go in there and preparing to get hit?
H.H.: The whole plan is to not get hit. That’s what I’m focused on. I spend a lot of time in the gym. The more I fear my opponent, the more time I spend in the gym. The more I learn the more confident I feel, which helps me feel more comfortable and not be overly anxious or be too nervous where I can’t focus and perform. Hard work helps me to get through that.
D.K.: Did you do anything in particular to prepare for the UFC 193 fight? Does music or practicing breathing techniques help you?
H.H.: I just like to be in my own peace and quiet. I don’t listen to music or have any music on in the locker room. I just focus and zone in. If I feel like I need music it’s because I’m needing the distraction and worked up too much. So I figure if I can’t focus long enough to think about the fight, maybe I shouldn’t be doing it anymore. I’m fine with my own peace and quiet.
Chris Woodard via Facebook: How do you balance being so humble with having the confidence needed to dominate a champion?
H.H.: I think it’s good to have confidence in yourself with what you do in life. You need to feel like you can accomplish things or else, how are you going to get there? If you don’t feel like you can do it, then how are you going to do it? You have to have confidence in yourself, but I definitely want to be very honest and real with myself at the same time. I’m trying to keep a good balance. I want to have confidence that I can accomplish these things. I don’t think there’s anything bad about it.
D.K.: What’s next, champ?
H.H.: I don’t have anything that’s talked about what’s next. Hopefully, I’ll be able to fight sooner than later but there’s no answer for that right now. We haven’t talked about it.