Cage Side

Preaching success - train hard, fight harder and aim for the top, says UFC's Holly Holm

A moment of glory or mark in history can often seal a name. In the sporting world, I am commonly known for beating Ronda Rousey by knockout for the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) bantamweight title in 2015.

Knocking out Ronda was surely one of my biggest achievements in my 15-year career as a fighter, but there has been so much more to my career than that. I have been in other, perhaps more challenging fights, which may not have been as widely televised, but to me, were just as important.

Because of my father's career as a preacher, I have been given the nickname, the Preacher's Daughter.

I grew up in a close-knit community in New Mexico in the United States, and I love being surrounded by my friends and family, as well as my team.

I'm a competitive person by nature and have always set goals for myself from a very young age. My father used to tell me that most people ask, "Why me?" when in fact they should be asking, "Why not me?" It's something that has stuck with me throughout my life.

I love victory and despise losing, which I believe is an important trait when you're trying to be the best. I think this competitive spirit is what brought me into this career and pushed me to succeed.

Holly Holm celebrating after ending American compatriot Ronda Rousey's unbeaten streak and three-year reign as UFC bantamweight champion in Melbourne in 2015. But she has since lost her last three bouts.
Holly Holm celebrating after ending American compatriot Ronda Rousey's unbeaten streak and three-year reign as UFC bantamweight champion in Melbourne in 2015. But she has since lost her last three bouts. PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

While I have achieved certain milestones, my job is far from done. Ultimately, I want to be a champion. I want to be remembered as a great fighter and person, and I want to leave a great legacy behind.

As a female fighter, which is not seen as a traditional role for a woman, I hope to motivate and inspire others. I also want to empower other women.

Women should never feel that they are unable to achieve greatness because of their gender.

Aim high, and work towards being the best. When I see others or specifically my peers succeed, it's easy to take the jealous route and hope the worst for them, but I use that competition to get motivated to work harder. I can only hope to motivate others in the same way.

When it comes to succeeding in the UFC, there's only one rule: fight hard. Train hard, then fight harder.

My advice to young fighters is to not settle for second best. Don't aim for the local or regional promotions, but aim high to compete on the global stage that is UFC.

To get there, you have to train daily. The type of training I do is quite varied, with a different type of activity each day.

I run five days a week, spar twice a week, grapple two to three times a week, and wrestle twice a week. I also do strength and conditioning work and mitt work three to four times a week, in between the other activities.

It is my hope that more women would look to pursue a career in mixed martial arts (MMA). In this day and age, I think more doors are open for women, and they should definitely take advantage of the opportunities available.

With every success, there are sacrifices. Heading to the gym for training when people are off for happy hour, or training in the freezing temperatures during winter may not be the most welcoming thought, but it is the drive to succeed that keeps me disciplined.

A strict diet is also necessary in order to perform at my best, so I am always mindful of the food I eat.

While there are daily mental notes like these to keep in mind, the bigger sacrifices may include missing out on the holidays when there is a fight coming up, or even having to quit school in order to fully focus on the sport.

This was a choice I had to make, and thankfully, my fighting career took off.

As the 2016 UFC Female Fighter of the Year, I am always flattered when people say positive things about me and my career, however, there is always room to learn more.

While I have achieved certain milestones, my job is far from done. Ultimately, I want to be a champion. I want to be remembered as a great fighter and person, and I want to leave a great legacy behind.

With the recognition of being among the greatest women athletes in the world, I hope to inspire other women to challenge themselves and be the best in everything they do, whether it is MMA or not.

As I continue to stay true to myself, I hope that other women will do and feel the same.

• Holly Holm is the fifth-ranked contender in the UFC women's bantamweight division. She is the first fighter to win championships in both boxing and MMA. The American's fight against Brazil's Bethe Correia will headline the June 17 UFC Fight Night Singapore. Tickets are available at sportshubtix.com

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on June 07, 2017, with the headline 'Preaching success - train hard, fight harder and aim for the top'. Print Edition | Subscribe