After a long, circuitous path to Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC), former female professional boxing sensation, Holly Holm, made her Octagon debut tonight (Sat., Feb. 28, 2015) against Raquel Pennington in the UFC 184 co-main event inside Staples Center in Los Angeles, California.
It was worth the wait.
Holm, who was noticeably nervous during the in-ring announcements, came out in a low stance, firing a left hand that missed. Pennington soon closed the distance, but Holm was able to break free. Pennington ducked under a looping right and weathered and early flurry well. Holm eventually began to warm up, firing more punches and landing more, too.
Pennington pushed her up against the cage to avoid getting picked apart, but Holm escaped and went back to work on the feet. Holm attempted another head kick, but it didn't land. There was a little bit of action, but not much from Pennington, as the round ended.
Pennington came out for the second round looking a bit more aggressive. Holm just missed with a huge head kick, but landed with a crisp punch to the chin. Holm missed with another head kick, then a spinning backfist. Pennington charged in with an uppercut, but it didn't do anything.
Holm missed with a Superman punch, giving Pennington the opportunity to box her ribs. Pennington tried to punch her way in again, but Holm beat her back with a crisp combination. Holm landed her best shot of the match so far witha bout 90 seconds remaining in the second.
Holm landed two left hands to the body, and a few to the chin, while Pennington continued to struggle to mount a meaningful offense.
Third and final frame, Pennington seemingly needs a finish to score the upset. And she begins with a nice leg kick and follow-up combination. Holm landed a solid right hook that snapped Pennington's head back. Moments later Pennington landed her own solid shot, her best punch of the fight, but it did little damage.
Holm threw another head kick, but once again, Pennington blocked it. Pennington tried one of her own, but no dice, either. Just as the crowd began to get restless, Pennington dropped Holm to a knee with a big punch. Holm recovered immediately and fired back. Pennington, though, clipped Holm again -- three times -- with about one minute remaining in the match.
Holm fired off several kicks to keep Pennington at bay as she swarmed for a possible finish. But, she couldn't get it. Too little, too late, as Holm secured a split decision victory and possible setting up a No. 1 contender eliminator match -- or even a title shot -- in her next appearance.
First-time Octagon jitters conquered.
For complete UFC 184: "Rousey vs. Zingano" results, including play-by-play updates, click here.