ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. -- For the first time in her brief mixed martial arts career, Holly Holm saw the judges’ scorecards in a fight. Judging by the results, she liked the deeper waters just fine.
Holm earned her sixth consecutive professional MMA victory on Friday night at the Route 66 Casino, taking a clear-cut unanimous decision over Angela Hayes in the bantamweight headliner at Fresquez Productions “Havoc.” Judges Mark Sanchez, Raul Porrata and Levi Martinez all scored the bout 30-27 in favor of Holm, who had earned her previous five victories by knockout or technical knockout. Hayes falls to 6-7 in defeat.
In previous efforts, Holm often overwhelmed her opposition with a kickboxing-heavy approach. This time the Jackson’s MMA standout was able to showcase a few other aspects of her game, including a little bit of ground-and-pound.
“She had a good clinch and on the ground she made it hard for me to tee off on her. It’s the first time I’ve been there (the ground) in a fight,” Holm said.
The opening round proved to be the most difficult, as Hayes was able to close the distance and force Holm into a grinding battle in the clinch. Still, Holm appeared to be the stronger fighter and was able to control the struggle for positioning, tossing the Colorado-based fighter to the floor late in the frame.
Holm was able to find her range in round two, connecting with a variety of accurate kicks to the knees, legs and body. The New Mexico native appeared to hurt Hayes with a pair of hard body kicks late in the frame, but the 40-year-old Rough House MMA & Fitness representative made it to the end of the period.
A steady diet of low kicks to Hayes’ lead leg were Holm’s weapon of choice early in round three. Later, Hayes showcased admirable resilience by remaining upright after absorbing back-to-back head kicks from the former world champion boxer. When a wobbly Hayes attempted to clinch out of sheer desperation, Holm dragged her to the mat and moved into full mount, where she attacked with measured ground-and-pound. One final takedown in the waning seconds capped off the victory.
It was the longest time Holm had spent on the ground in her caged career to date.
“I’m glad it went there. Even toward the end of the third I thought, ‘Oh my God, just try a takedown and see.’ I need to really just believe in myself with some of that stuff,” she said. “It was great to be able to go on the ground a little bit and I felt all right being there.”
In the cage after the bout, Holm spoke only briefly about an eventual move to the UFC.
“I want to take whatever opportunity that’s in front of me that’s the best,” she said.