Holly Holm, quite possibly the second-best women's bantamweight in the world today, will face Juliana Werner this April for the right to become the first women's champion in the Legacy Fighting Championship promotion.
According to a report Saturday from Dan Stupp and John Morgan of MMAJunkie.com, Holm (6-0) will fight Werner in Holm's home town of Albuquerque, N.M.
It would be the first taste of MMA gold for Holm, a former world champion boxer who has taken her new sport by storm in 2013.
Indeed, Holm has bulldozed a path to the top of every ranking list and MMA contender conversation since retiring from boxing in May to focus full-time on mixed martial arts. Holm went 4-0 in 2013 alone, scoring three of those wins by highlight-reel knockout.
The UFC and Team Holm have already discussed a contract but failed to reach agreement. The general sticking point appears to be money, though the subtext suggests a more fundamental disagreement over Holm's viability as a star in MMA. Holm's camp has reportedly demanded a six-figure contract and a guaranteed shot at current champ and women's MMA kingpin Ronda Rousey.
A title fight between Rousey, 26, and Holm, 32, could be the biggest match in women's MMA history. Rousey is 7-0, having finished all of her opponents in the first round by armbar. A matchup between the judo Olympian and a dynamic striker in Holm would provide a tantalizing striker vs. grappler matchup. Throw in the fact that both women are rather telegenic and fairly interesting in front of a microphone, and you have a promotional slam dunk.
Holm's camp surely sees that, as does everybody else (Rousey said this week she'd "love" to fight Holm). But to put Holm's contract demand in perspective, Rousey herself reportedly earned $90,000 in her Octagon debut at UFC 157, and half of that came from a win bonus. Her opponent in that fight, Liz Carmouche, pocketed $12,000 for her efforts.
For its part, the UFC appeared to laugh off Holm's demands, with company president Dana White noting that Holm "hasn't fought anybody" of consequence, then adding, with his ever-present sense of tactical nuance, that he believed Holm's manager was a "lunatic."
Just a week after White's comments, Legacy FC made its announcement. For Holm, who is active with Invicta FC and other promotions in addition to Legacy, the move could be construed as a direct response to the UFC's stance that her resume remains rather thin, regardless of her talent. It will be interesting to see if another highlight-reel win and her first MMA belt does enough to earn Holm a UFC berth, or at least return the two parties to the bargaining table.