Former women’s bantamweight champion Holly Holm is expected to fight again on March 25th, 2023 against Yana Kunitskaya on the UFC’s upcoming ESPN card in San Antonio, Texas.
The bout, which has been reported by multiple sources, isn’t signed at this time but all indications point towards it being a done deal.
Holm has spent the last two years struggling to stay healthy. A case of hydronephrosis (swelling of the kidneys) forced her out of a May 2021 title contention fight against Julianna Pena. And then a main event fight with Norma Dumont in October 2021 was scrapped after Holm suffered a knee injury. “The Preacher’s Daughter” finally made it back into the cage against Ketlen Vieira at UFC Vegas 55 in May, losing via a razor close split decision.
Kunitskaya is set to make her return to action in her first fight since having a baby with fellow UFC fighter Thiago Santos. She fought and lost to Irene Aldana via first round KO in July 2021, and then revealed a month later that she was pregnant.
Both Holm and Kunitskaya are 2-1 since the start of 2020. Holm currently sits in the No. 3 position in the women’s bantamweight ranking while Kunitskaya is ranked No. 6.
At 41 years of age, this fight may be part of a last push for Holm to regain the title she took off Ronda Rousey in 2015. Not only has Holly fought 20 times in MMA, but she had an entire career in boxing with 38 pro fights. And many of these fights in both sports have been championship bouts, so that’s a lot of mileage.
But if Holm has retirement on her mind, she’s not signaling it in interviews.
“I definitely want to go until the wheels fall off,” Holm told MMA Fighting at the start of 2022. “Things might hurt. People are like ‘you’re going to have arthritis, you’re going to have this, you’re going to have that.’ Yeah probably but I’d rather have a healthy heart and lungs and memories with me than just my knees don’t hurt.”
“At the end of my life I know my body’s probably going to hurt pretty bad but that’s all right. Because I love the memories I have. I love the passion I’ve felt in life. I love that I’ve given myself a chance to really get out there and do things and I still love it. Having this much time off makes me realize how much I still love it. It’s like I crave to fight. I want it really badly.”
UFC on ESPN 43 is set to take place at the AT&T Center in San Antonio, Texas and will featured on ESPN’s cable channel rather than just being on ESPN+. At the moment there’s only a few other fights booked. Maycee Barber will face Andrea Lee in a women’s flyweight showdown, Chidi Njokuani fights Albert Duraev at middleweight, and C.J. Vergara takes on Daniel da Silva at flyweight.