Albuquerque welcomes home UFC champion Holly Holm

Sun Dec 6, 2015 9:52pm EST
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By Joseph Kolb

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (Reuters) - As the world is slowly getting to know Holly Holm, the new female Ultimate Fighting Championship bantamweight champion of the world was warmly welcomed back home on Sunday to Albuquerque, where she is a well-known local celebrity.

    Three weeks after Holm shocked the mixed martial arts world with a stunning knockout of heavily favored reigning UFC bantamweight champion Ronda Rousey in Melbourne, Australia, the 34-year-old received a hero's welcome from more than 20,000 fans in Albuquerque, her hometown and where she launched her career.

"I love you guys," she said to the crowd in the Civic Plaza after a downtown parade. "You, here, Albuquerque, made this possible." 

    Noticeably uneasy with notoriety, Holm addressed the crowd. slowly moving back and forth along the stage with her waist-length blond hair whipping in the bright sunlight with each turn, spending most of the time recognizing everyone from her family and coaches to the people of New Mexico.

    "I'm just going to shoot from the hip and the heart," she told the crowd after admitting that she forgot her speech at home.

    She did make one personal point perfectly clear.

    "I am not done yet, we're still going to take it to the top," Holm said of her continued drive to excel in UFC.

    On Nov. 15, Holm, a 900-1 underdog, sent Rousey to the mat in the second round of their bantamweight championship bout with a devastating left kick to the jaw, knocking her out and sending her to the hospital.   Continued...

Holly Holm waves during a parade honoring the UFC Bantamweight champion in Albuquerque, New Mexico December 6, 2015.  REUTERS/Craig Fritz