Holly Holm sat with her back straight, hands in her lap and a blank stare during Wednesday’s news conference at the MGM Grand to promote the Ultimate Fighting Championship’s next megacard on March 5.
The suddenly popular women’s bantamweight champion didn’t express much emotion or crack a smile while Conor McGregor threw out a flurry of one-liners and zingers aimed at his next opponent, Rafael dos Anjos.
McGregor did manage to get a grin from the stoic Holm when the question was asked about having two of the most popular fighters on the same card for UFC 197.
“I wanted Holly on the fight. She has Irish blood,” McGregor said. “It’s an honor.”
Holm (10-0) doesn’t have the outgoing personality of Ronda Rousey, and she’s not going to change now that the belt is around her waist — a relief for Miesha Tate.
Tate, who will fight Holm in UFC 197’s co-main event for the bantamweight title, said it’s refreshing not having to do deal with the drama that comes with facing Rousey.
There won’t be any mind games or mini-brawls at news conferences, just mutual respect between the two bantamweight foes.
“Holly and I are very friendly,” Tate said. “It’s going to be different.”
Holm, 34, has gained plenty of notoriety since knocking out Rousey in November at UFC 193 in Australia.
She’s gotten to rub elbows with celebrities and athletes, but she’s not letting the fame distract her from training.
“It’s been fine,” Holm said about receiving attention. “I got to meet a lot of new people, but I also got to go home and be with friends who have been there since Day One. I love to be able to meet new people, get to know them behind the screen or behind the sport … I think it’s just a balance.”
Tate (17-5) has lost to Rousey twice, once with Strikeforce and once with the UFC. The 29-year-old fighter has won four consecutive matches to earn her shot at Holm’s championship.
“I think my style if different from Ronda’s, and that will be a puzzle for Holly,” Tate said. “I’m a little more anxious for this fight than I would be with Ronda because I feel like this is a new puzzle, this is entirely a new challenge. I was starting to figure out Ronda.”
While Holm’s next opponent is Tate, that didn’t stop reporters from asking when her rematch will be with Rousey.
The two were scheduled to meet at UFC 200 before it was called off last week because of Rousey’s acting schedule interfering with training. Rousey is set to take on the lead role in the remake of “Roadhouse.”
Holm said she welcomes a rematch with Rousey, but doesn’t want to fight her if she’s not passionate about the sport.
“For me, I want to keep fighting, and if Ronda wants to come back and that’s her passion, great,” Holm said. “If she wants to stay in movies, great. I think I’d rather meet someone in the cage when they’re passionate about it. I don’t want it to be because they feel they have to or because it’s expected or people are curious about it.
“It’s Ronda’s life. I want her to do what she wants to do.”
Holm doesn’t feel any pressure of beating Rousey for a second time. She’s more concerned with not being a one-hit wonder.
“There’s a lot of pressure behind it,” Holm said of her fight with Tate. “Anticipation on what I’m going to do after the last fight. There’s a lot of high expectations, and, you know, who wants to be a one-hit wonder, right?”
The fight buildup between Tate and Holm already has started differently compared to what they went through with Rousey.
Tate and Holm shook hands and smiled during their face-off Wednesday. Rousey didn’t bother touching fists before fighting Holm and refused to shake Tate’s hands after defeating her the second time.
Yeah, this fight has a different feel to it.
— Contact Gilbert Manzano at firstname.lastname@example.org or 702-383-0492. Follow him on Twitter: @gmanzano24.