Who will boost their bid for a UFC women’s bantamweight title fight in 2021 when Holly Holm and Irene Aldana finally meet in their rearranged fight that main events the October 3 UFC Fight Island card?
Having gone 3-5 in her last eight fights you would think that Holm would be more concerned with trying to avoid getting the boot from the UFC than looking to land a title shot, but when it comes to ‘The Preacher’s Daughter’ it would be rather unfair to judge her solely by looking at her win-loss record. Yes, she has perhaps not reached the heights that many expected when she crossed over to MMA after a successful boxing career, but she has hardly been losing to scrubs.
Holm was able to shatter the aura surrounding Ronda Rousey to win the bantamweight belt back in March 2016 and was on the brink of a successful first defence when Miesha Tate went for broke, locked in a rear-naked choke and forced her to tap out. Since that night she has lost four times in seven outings but just look at who she has been beaten by in that time – top contender Germaine de Randamie, impressive featherweight champion Valentina Shevchenko, one of the all-time greats in Cris Cyborg, and quite simply the best female fighter the world has ever seen in Amanda Nunes.
Simply put, Holm has not been losing to scrubs, and when she has fought fighters a level below that she has delivered victories, stopping Bethe Correia and besting both Megan Anderson and Raquel Pennington over three rounds. Those victories have helped her retain her status as a premier fighter in the bantamweight division and although the prospect of a rematch with Nunes (if the champion beats Megan Anderson in December) may not be that exciting, it would be a deserved shot if she turns back Aldana here. After all, aside from winning a rematch with de Randamie there is little else she could do to earn another crack at the title.
Aldana, on the other hand, knows that a victory here could be all she needs to earn herself a chance at the champion in the first half of 2021. She did not enjoy the best of starts to her UFC career as she dropped back-to-back decisions, but she stopped the run with a much-needed decision win over Talita Bernardo in January 2018 and has now gone 5-1 in her last six fights to climb the ladder, with a couple of victories coming against opponents who failed to make weight.
The 32-year-old Mexican scored his first stoppage win inside the Octagon in May of last year when she forced Bethe Correia to tap out to an armbar in the final round of their contest, and she goes into this bout having registered her first KO/TKO success under the UFC banner thanks to a first-round stoppage of Ketlen Vieira last December. So as you can see, Aldana is in solid form going into this contest, but I do not expect here to add Holm’s name to her list of victims on October 3.
Nine of Aldana’s 12 wins have come via stoppage, but only three of those successes came via submission and that is her best chance of beating Holm. Taking Holm down and submitting her is a very difficult feat though – just ask Miesha Tate. ‘Cupcake’ is the only fighter to have ever managed that and it was, quite frankly, a ‘hail Mary’ attempt with less than two minutes left in a fight that she was losing by a large margin on the scorecards.
So can we really expect Aldana to take Holm to the canvas in this one? I doubt it. And that is a massive problem for her because the last thing you want to do is engage in a striking battle with the former champion unless you are an elite fighter in that aspect of the game. Aldana does not fit into that bracket. There are unlikely to be fireworks and it may not be a fight that gets everyone excited for the possibility of Nunes-Holm 2, but ‘The Preacher’s Daughter’ will outpoint Aldana and she will have her hand raised after the judges render their verdict.