Division: Women's bantamweight
Promotion: Legacy Fighting Championships
Country: United States
All right, all right. Simmer down, now. Take a seat. Let's talk about this a little bit.
Yes, I do realize she's a woman. And I also realize she's only six fights into her pro career at the age of 32. I also realize she's a converted boxer with no discernible ground game. And I also realize she has not, as UFC president Dana White noted, "fought anybody."
But she's still the top MMA prospect out there, man, woman, insect or echinoderm. Notice that White never said he wouldn't sign her or that she wasn't a top prospect. All he did was offer a piece of gamesmanship by observing that she wasn't UFC material yet.
And he's right, for now. But make no mistake: She will be, and sooner than some people suspect. She's a pure force of nature, which is probably why queen bee Ronda Rousey, who I hear tell enjoys a challenge, didn't hesitate recently when asked whether she wanted Holm in the octagon (she does).
So what makes the preacher's daughter from New Mexico the top prospect in mixed martial arts? Follow me to the blackboard.
First, she's a multi-time, multi-division boxing champion. It's important to mention that. That sort of thing doesn't just happen. You can see her elite skills, top-notch athleticism and decidedly tiger-like eye whenever she steps in and takes that hard-to-handle southpaw stance. She is an elite fighter right now if she never dons another glove.
Second, knockout ability is a rare and precious commodity, particularly in women's MMA. And Holm has it, as evidenced by the fact that five of the wins on her MMA record (not to mention nine boxing victories) came in that manner. It's like a gold prospector with X-ray vision. It's a special gift; there's no way it can't be an advantage. No one's going to knock the X-ray vision prospector for having poor pan-sifting technique. I'm not saying Holm shouldn't worry about the rest of her game. But she does have a leg up.
Third, she has a very important weapon, located right in her hometown. It's called Jackson-Winkeljohn. And she couldn't be in better hands. It's a thinking person's fight camp. Here's guessing they will not only coach her up on grappling and all the other missing parts of her MMA game but will tailor a path to success based on her unique skills, weaknesses and tendencies. No camp does that better.
Fourth, combat specialists occupy a different space in the women's game. Just ask Rousey. Again, this traces back to its newness. The women's game is even newer than the men's game, and as such, it is still drawing talent from more long-established sports. Boxing is one of them; judo is another. Because of WMMA's relatively nascent state, specialists—and the deficiencies they sometimes bring into the cage—are still OK. And besides Rousey, there's no more well-honed specialist in the sport than Holm.
For my fifth and final reason, allow me to draw a sports parallel that moves outside MMA. Holm is the 2013-14 Florida State Seminoles.
All season long, critics asked: Who have they played? What have they done? And all season long, the 'Noles rolled, crushing their opponents by an average of something like 77-3. When the title game finally came, plenty of people didn't think FSU had done enough to be there. They expected the higher-pedigreed, better-seasoned Auburn team to take an easy championship.
As we know, it didn't happen that way. The Seminoles won, showing that sometimes just being good trumps things like strength of schedule.
So there you have it. This is your top MMA prospect for 2014. Sit back, watch the blood fly, enjoy Holm's ride to the top and say you were there back when.
Scott Harris writes about MMA for Bleacher Report. In particular, he likes to cover the MMA prospect arena through The Beaten Path prospect series. Please feel free to follow him on Twitter, or you can just leave the nasty comment in the comments section. Plenty of options, you know?