Holly Holm was never more valuable as a fighter than after her shock win over Ronda Rousey in November, and there would have been no more valuable fight in the history of women’s UFC than a rematch between the two. Both of those things are out the window now, after Holm was choked out by Miesha Tate on Saturday.

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It’s easy to say in hindsight that Holm crippled her earning power by taking the Tate fight rather than waiting for Rousey. It’s more complicated than that, of course, but Dana White has never been a man for nuance. White said yesterday that Holm got bad advice from her camp, and shouldn’t have risked a loss before giving Rousey a rematch.

“I feel bad about it. I feel bad for Holly. I don’t know if Holly really knows what she lost. I think she has so much faith in the people that surround her, she feels like, ‘Well, they got me this far.’

“We had this meeting, and Holly wasn’t even in it. Holly, that’s your life. You should be in that meeting. Don’t leave it to these people. Anyway, Holly made a lot of money. She accomplished great things, she beat Ronda Rousey. But it could have been so much bigger for her, and the sad part is, I don’t think she even knows it.”

In retrospect, sure. Of course this is all moot if Holm had beaten Tate—it probably would have increased the hype and gate for Holm-Rousey II—but Holm knew the deal. She also knows that fighters don’t make money by not fighting.

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Rousey is off making movies and isn’t expected to get back into the cage until the end of the year, and it’s hard to blame Holm for not wanting to wait, especially not when her earning power was at its highest. She needs that purse money in a way Rousey doesn’t. Holm is 34 years old, toward the beginning of the end for a fighter, and has said she wants to fight three or four times a year while she can.

“For me, I want to keep fighting,” Holm said. “And if Ronda wants to come back and that’s her passion, great. If she wants to stay in movies, great.”

It was a calculated risk for Holm, who believed she could beat Tate, beat another comer at UFC 200 this summer, and enter that Rousey rematch in the fall with a full year’s worth of hype. She believed she was the best in the division, and not just a style nightmare for Rousey. (Maybe she is legit and Tate was just a style nightmare for her; we’ll never know.)

Holm will probably get her rematch against Rousey someday, but it won’t be as big or as lucrative, and it won’t be for a while. Dana White said Rousey’s first matchup upon her return will be a third bout against Tate.


Contact the author at barryp@deadspin.com.