Holly Holm knew her back was up against a wall after losing three straight fights in the UFC.
It had been a roller coaster ride for Holm after she became an overnight sensation with a second-round knockout against Ronda Rousey in 2015, but she failed to capture that same level of success in her past few fights.
Still, Holm had faced nothing but the best fighters in the world during that stretch so she knew that with a few minor adjustments, she could get back to the top of her division.
A third-round knockout against former title contender Bethe Correia definitely did the trick as Holm returned to form on Saturday in Singapore. It was an emotional win for Holm while also earning her second head-kick knockout in the UFC.
While Correia is typically the aggressor in her fights, she sat back on her heels a little more in the opening round while trying to avoid the counter striking from Holm.
Holm still landed the better strikes as she made an adjustment in her game plan to begin stepping forward with a series of strikes and kicks that started to find a home as the round moved forward.
It was a slow moving opening round with only nine significant strikes landed between the two fighters.
The lack of activity continued into the second round, which forced referee Marc Goddard to actually pause the fight to issue warnings to both fighters for timidity.
“I respect the game plan and what you’re trying to do but you have to make something happen,” Goddard told Holm and Correia during the break.
Unfortunately not much changed for the remainder of the round outside of Holm opening up with another solid kick while Correia countered with a body lock against the cage before the horn sounded.
As the third round got underway, Holm stayed patient in her strategy to not allow Correia to turn the fight into a brawl, which is exactly the kind of fight she would prefer.
It all paid off just after Correia smiled and taunted Holm by putting her hands in the air while trying to motion the former women’s bantamweight champion to come after her.
Holm responded by unleashing a beautifully timed kick that started low before exploding up high to blast Correia with her shin landing directly across the face. Correia crumbled to the canvas where Holm landed one more punch for good measure as the Brazilian dropped to the mat as the referee jumped in between them to call a stop to the contest.
With tears welling up in her eyes, Holm finally felt the taste of victory for the first time since her career-defining win over Rousey nearly two years ago.
“There’s so many people that supported me through these three losses,” Holm said after her victory. “My team that flies halfway across the world for me and my coaches at home.”
Holm certainly deserved the celebration following three heartbreaking losses in a row including a very close, controversial decision defeat in her previous fight against Germaine de Randamie from February.
Afterwards, Holm wasn’t ready to call anybody out or ask for a chance to get back into title contention. Instead, she was just ready to enjoy the feeling of a victory again.
“I’m going to enjoy this night right now, enjoy the victory tonight. It’s been a year and a half since I was able to do a backflip in here and I was glad to do it in Singapore. I just feel so blessed.”
It’s a huge moment for Holm as she not only gets back on track but sends a not-so-subtle reminder to the best women’s bantamweights in the world that she’s still fully capable of pulling off that kind of fight ending power in any matchup. Given her win on Saturday, it’s hard to imagine Holm won’t jump right back into the deep end of the division with her next fight in the UFC.