The anticipation to see Holly Holm compete inside the Octagon has been brewing for quite some time.
The boxing champion-turned-mixed martial artist potentially signing with the UFC has been a hot topic over the past year, and last Thursday, the waiting game came to an end as the Albuquerque native officially inked a deal with the biggest promotion in MMA.
UFC President Dana White broke the news via his Twitter account, as he posted a picture of Holm's signed contract, which instantly sparked speculation that the 32-year-old would jump to the front of the line to face bantamweight phenom Ronda Rousey in the champion's next bout. While a potential showdown between Holm and the former Olympic judoka would be a high-profile draw for the UFC, White isn't ready to commit to putting Holm in the express lane for an immediate title shot.
The UFC front man told Lance Pugmire of the Los Angeles Times that the promotional newcomer would have to take at least one non-title bout before stepping in with the current women's 135-pound champion. "Rowdy" is coming off a 16-second destruction of Alexis Davis at UFC 175 and informed the media in her post-fight interviews that she would be taking time to address issues with knee and hand injuries that she's been dealing with throughout her past few training camps.
While there has been no official timeline set for Rousey's return, there is speculation she will be looking to compete at least one more time before the 2014 campaign comes to a close. That time frame would give Holm plenty of real estate to get her official debut under her belt and line up a potential showdown with Rousey for the end of the year.
That said, Holm would still need to get her first victory in the UFC, and there are no guarantees in that department. Granted, she obviously possesses a talented skill set, but thus far all of her wins in MMA have come on smaller shows where she's been able to steamroll the opposition.
Nevertheless, Holm's signing with the UFC will provide an immediate boost to the talent in the women's bantamweight ranks, and it will be interesting to see how she responds to the level of competition under the UFC banner.
Duane Finley is a featured columnist for Bleacher Report. All quotes are obtained firsthand unless noted otherwise.