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“I always say that Instagram can be very deceiving in terms of what people put out — but I am in a good place right now,” said Holm, whose social media feed is filled with playful videos, pictures of her “ride or die” travel companion River, and post-training pictures with her team from the Jackson-Wink MMA Academy in Albuquerque, New Mexico.

“Training for a fight is so exhausting anyway that when you have other things going on, it can really wear you down. When there is a time where you don’t have all this other stuff pulling at you, you’re able to keep your focus on what it needs to be on.

“I’m happy,” she added, the tone of her voice echoing the sentiment. “I enjoy my life. I’m focused, I’m happy, I’m ready, I’ve had a good camp, and great training partners. With that comes the pressure that I put on myself, like, ‘Holly, you have literally everything going for you right now, so you better make the most of it; there are no excuses.’ I always say, ‘no excuses’ no matter what’s going on, but it’s definitely one of those times where when you’re feeling this good, you have to go out there and let it show, let it shine.”

For the first time in a long time, it feels like Holly Holm doesn’t have the weight of a thousand different expectations and outside the cage situations resting on her shoulders as she readies to step into the cage.

“My goal is to keep bettering myself and I know it will show in my performances because I know I’m putting that work in and I know I’m getting better every single fight,” she said.

The work is evident and the improvements are obvious, even if they move her further away from being the fighter many would like her to be.

She’s still the woman who shocked the word and knocked out Ronda Rousey, but she’s also just another contender looking to work her way to a championship opportunity, and trying to become the best possible fighter she can be with each and every trip into the Octagon.

Despite her championship past, Holm is still a work-in-progress, just like everyone else who crosses the threshold into the UFC cage.

“Eventually, I’m hoping that I’m going to have that performance where I’m just dominating in every spot and it’s all coming together at the same time in a fight,” she added. “I’m still striving for something great, something perfect.”

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