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Holly Holm loses

July 24, 2016 GMT

CHICAGO -- Holly Holm was in shape. She was stronger. She was focused.

She just couldn’t figure out how to solve the puzzle of Valentina Shevchenko.

Unable to land significant strikes against the much shorter, smaller Shevchenko, and eating counter punches throughout the fight, Holm lost her second consecutive UFC fight via unanimous decision on Saturday night in the United Center, 49-46 on all three judges score cards.

“I knew she was a counter puncher. I knew that,” Holm said in the octagon after the fight. “I knew she was tough. ... My coaches taught me everything. My performance was not right tonight.”

Holm (10-2) has now lost both times since her November upset win over Ronda Rousey in Australia that made her the UFC women’s bantamweight champion.

After Holm won the opening round, dropping Shevchenko (13-2) and overpowering her throughout, Shevchenko won each of the next four rounds, opening up a cut over Holm’s eye after a takedown in the third round. The smaller fighter landed several elbows while Holm was unable to get up off her back for the final couple minutes of the the round that seemed to decide the contest.

ORANGE CRUSH: Prior to Saturday’s fight, among the social media shout outs for Holm included one from her favorite sports team.

The Denver Broncos posted on Twitter, “We’ve got your back, @HollyHolm. #UFCChicago” along with a pair of pictures of Holm wearing Denver Bronco t-shirts.

MAIN CARD: The first two fights of Saturday’s four-fight main card didn’t last long. Felice Herrig submitted Kailin Curran with a rear-naked choke in the first round (1:59) in a women’s strawweight fight and he heavyweight Francis Ngannou Curran via rear-naked choke pummeled Bojan Mihajlovic, bring a stoppage to the fight via TKO in the first round (1:34).

The co-main event, meanwhile, when the distance before Edson Barboza defeated Gilbert Melendez via unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 29-28) in a fight that very much pleased the crowd through the first two of three rounds.