UFC Fight Night: For Holly Holm, Irene Aldana fight is about making her mark and snapping a bad streak
"The Preacher's Daughter" Holly Holm hasn't lost her title aspirations. It's one of those must-haves she says she wants in the cabinet before she hangs up her gloves. And that's a lot of confidence from a seasoned fighter as Holm despite losing her last five out of eight fights. As she gears up to face Irene Aldana in the main event of UFC Fight Night on "Fight Island" in Abu Dhabi on Saturday. With a 13-5-0, 6-5 record in the UFC, Holm is keen on claiming the crown.
Holm gained global recognition when she pulled off an upset win in 2015 over Ronda Rousey in Melbourne. The 56,215 people in the arena didn't see it coming and neither did the UFC world as Holm showcased an iron-wall defense and equally hard-hitting strike ability to go from being an underdog to a champion. It was lights out for Rousey when Holm took her out with a high kick that not just ended the fight, but also ground Rousey's winning streak and her three-year reign as champion to a grinding halt.
From there, Holm's UFC stint had a sinewave-like career graph. Soon after defeating Rousey, she lost to Miesha Tate in 2016 in her first title defense. This was followed by another loss to the Dutch star Germaine de Randamie at UFC 208 and the decision was dubbed controversial with critics still opining Holm should have deserved the win. She returned to the Bantamweight division and scored an impressive win over Bethe Correa in 2017 and followed it by up by battling Cris Cyborg for the UFC Featherweight Championship, which she lost.
A win over Megan Anderson followed before another loss to Amanda Nunes for the Women's Bantamweight championship. Her bout with Aldana was due on August 1 before the latter tested positive for Covid-19. And now, while she prepares to take on a surging star, Holm will also be keen to silence critics and get that win under her belt. The former pro boxer and kickboxer has a terrific record of defending he boxing titles 18 times and that serves as a massive inspiration ahead of her fight.
At 38, it is a stereotypical notion of age getting the better of the body by most across the world; however, if Holm's words are anything to go by, her career is far from over. As per an MMA Junkie report, the fighter hoped to retire with the title. "I’m truly a big believer in the fact that, if you’re not trying to fight for a title, what are you fighting for?" she said. "If you’re not trying to be No. 1, what are you fighting for? That’s the difference between somebody who just wants a participation ribbon and a gold medal. I’m always going for gold."
Aldana's been one of the rising and prominent stars in the UFC circuit and the 32-year-old Mexican comes into this fight with a win against Ketlen Vieira. Holm said Aldana has been on her crosshairs for some time now. "I have watched a little (on her)," Holm said. "I don’t watch a ton (of other fighters in my division). I just focus on whoever I have in front of me, but sometimes there will be a fight where it’s like, ‘I may face this woman eventually.’ Irene is definitely been one of those fighters like, ‘You know what, her and I are definitely going to see each other in the octagon soon.’ So, I’ve been watching."
"My biggest thing is: The only way to get (to the title) is to make the best statement with this fight," Holm said. "I can’t be thinking past my opponent right now, so that’s what I want to do is just make the most of this fight then go from there." To put it in simple words, Holm is not backing down and the fight against Aldana is a chance to get things back in order and make a resounding statement. It is definitely not a step forward and two steps back.
The main card can be watched on ESPN, starting at 10:30 pm ET, and the prelims can be caught live on ESPN+ at 7:30 pm on Saturday, October 3.