Before stepping into the octagon this Saturday night in the main event against former UFC women’s bantamweight champion Holly Holm (13-5), Irene Aldana (12-5) may have already won the biggest fight of her life preparing for this match.
As this fight was scheduled in early August, it was postponed as Aldana contracted COVID-19. “I had a really bad time I couldn’t breathe well,” explained Aldana. “I thought that health was first and tried to stay calm, but when I was trying to train that made me feel worse and I felt I needed to rest.”
After a few weeks off, the first week back was a challenge according to Aldana, but this week she feels herself at 100% and ready to take on the former champ. “Fighting Holly is a great challenge for me,” said Aldana. “And being able to fight the top of the top makes me be able to grow more as an athlete. I think winning this fight is going to make it clear that I’m next in line.”
Few would argue that a win over Holm would put Aldana in the contender slot next to face current duel bantamweight and featherweight champion Amanda Nunes, and for the Mexico native Aldana, that is a place she is ready to be. “I’m very motivated and happy to be here and this is a great time for me to represent Mexico.” said Aldana. “I’m very proud to be representing Mexico in this platform”
And thinking past Holm and onto that fight with Nunes, Aldana is unsure but fine with whatever timeframe her cards fall into place. “I hope she returns to 135 soon,” said Aldana. “I don’t know what her plans are and I respect her, but when she comes back it will be a great honor to fight her and if I win against Amanda that will take me to the highest level of an athlete.”
The growth and improvement of Aldana is undeniable. She is 5-1 in her last six fights and one win away from a potential title shot. And even as confident as she is, she knows that a win against Holm will not be handed to her and is ready for whatever the former champ has for her. “I expect her best version,” explained Aldana. “I expect the best Holly ever and I know she prepared well for this fight and takes me seriously. She still wants to go for the belt and I’m in her way and she’s in mine. I respect her as a fighter and I like her and I admire her, she’s done great things in this sport. But I’m really focused on winning this fight and do whatever it takes to win it.”
Photo credit: UFC