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Holly Holm finds herself in the familiar spot as underdog

Lance Pugmire, Los Angeles Times on

Published in MMA

LAS VEGAS -- Holly Holm has ridden perhaps the UFC's most volatile career roller coaster, from the zenith of her upset of Ronda Rousey two years ago to a three-fight losing streak that left her in tears earlier this year.

"It definitely is that," Holm said Wednesday. "I don't know anybody else it's happened to."

Holm, 36, buckles up again Saturday night when she meets Cris "Cyborg" Justino (18-1), the dominant new featherweight champion, in the main event of UFC 219 at T-Mobile Arena.

"If I was able to do it once, I can do it again," Holm said. "I know I'm capable of beating these girls, and it really comes down to that."

A former professional boxing world champion, Holm points to lessons in resiliency she gained in that sport as the inspiration for her massive upset of Rousey, and for the confidence she takes into the fight against the 32-year-old Justino, who hasn't lost since her debut in 2005, with eight consecutive victories by knockout.

"I'm in a place where no one thinks I can do it and there's no possibility for me, but I've been in situations -- four fights -- where I've thought, 'What are you thinking taking this fight?' " Holm said. "And this is the fifth ... ."

Holm won those other four, reeling off her one-sided decision over the famed, vastly more experienced Christy Martin in 2005; moving up two weight classes to deliver a first loss to Mary Joe Sanders -- the daughter of Pro Football Hall of Fame member Charlie Sanders; avenging a brutal knockout loss to Anne Sophie Mathis by winning a unanimous decision six months later; and beating Rousey.

That remarkable event in Melbourne, Australia, seems a lifetime ago now, but Holm on Wednesday easily relived the stunning day.

"The feeling when nobody thinks you can do it and you're walking in ... you really have to tell yourself you know better than what all of these people are thinking ... because you can easily think, 'Are they all seeing something I'm not?' " Holm said.

Holm knew Rousey, who'd needed a total of just 2 minutes, 8 seconds to vanquish her prior four foes in the first round, had invested training time to boxing, Holm's specialty

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