Former title contender Irene Aldana looks to avenge summer loss with a win against Karol Rosa this Saturday night at UFC 296 on PPV

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2023 was one of the biggest years for Mexican fighters in the UFC. In the early spring, three championship belts were held by Yair Rodriguez, Brandon Moreno and Alexa Grasso. And this past June, Grasso’s longtime Team Lobo teammate, Irene Aldana (14-7-0) had her sights set on becoming the fourth Latin star to bring a title back to Guadalajara, Mexico. Former UFC women’s bantamweight champion, Amanda Nunes would have other plans for Aldana that evening as she would go on to win a five round decision in Vancouver. Aldana is ready to put that memory to rest and get back in the win column this Saturday night against Karol Rosa (17-5) at UFC 296: Edwards vs Covington. “I just want to erase the bad night that I had,” said Aldana. “And do whatever I can to get another title shot as soon as possible.”

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Taking some time off immediately after her loss in June allowed Aldana to get some much-needed surgery as she did not feel at her best during the Nunes fight. “I went back home and began to fix all my health problems that I had,” explained Aldana. “Injuries that I had that I was having problems with, so it was a good time to reset my mind and body.” And as soon as she returned to the gym for training, she got a well-received call from the UFC about fighting an opponent that wasn’t really on her radar. “I never thought about Karol,” said Aldana. “But that’s how it works. The UFC calls and I say yes and it doesn’t matter who they offer, what’s the ranking, the place, I just accept the fight because I want them to know I’m open to fight whoever they want me to fight and to do whatever I need to do to get to the top again.”

As Moreno and Rodriguez both lost their titles later in the year, her teammate, Alexa Grasso is the only one left of the three to continue to hold her title. Aldana saw the popularity of MMA rise to its highest peak in Mexico when three titles were roaming around her neck of the woods, and she would very much like to be included in that conversation after her fight on Saturday night. “I’m so happy the sport is growing in Mexico and Mexican fighters are starting to blow up,” said Aldana. “And I know new generations are coming and we have great fighters and great fighting spirit in Mexico. We have a great history in boxing, and I think it’s a part of our culture and now it’s going to MMA, and it’s been a crazy year for Mexico, and I know it’s going to pump up again.”

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And as the UFC has announced they will be returning to Mexico in February for a fight card, Aldana is not looking past her fight against Rosa but would be very up to fighting in her hometown early next year. “I know it’s a possibility that they call me to fight in Mexico,” said Aldana. “It’s always nice to fight in front of your people but now I’m fighting in Las Vegas which is my second home and I love the people here and the audience here and it feels like almost like Mexico.”

With the retirement of Nunes shortly after her fight with Aldana, the bantamweight title is up for grabs in January between Raquel Pennington and Mayra Bueno Silva. Aldana feels like she should be the next to fight the winner of those two. “I know I have to make a big statement on Saturday and I’m ready for that and ready to prove that and I wasn’t at my best obviously in the fight with Amanda,” explained Aldana. “I feel really good, and I want to show who I really am in the octagon and what I’m capable to do and I stepped in to replace Julianna to face Amanda so I think I kind of deserve a second chance, but I really have to earn it.”

Photo credit: UFC

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