UFC on ESPN 16 post-event facts: Holly Holm sets multiple personal records
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The oddsmakers and public see this as a close fight, listing Holm -120 and Aldana +100 as of this writing. Despite being very familiar with both fighters, I, too, admittedly had trouble making a solid read, much less a pick that I’m comfortable with. I don’t disagree with the current favorite, as Holm is probably the safer pick in this spot. Not only does Holm carry an edge in combat sports experience overall, but this will be Aldana’s first time potentially going five rounds under the UFC banner. The Mexican fighter has fought in two title fights previously (in the Jungle Fight and Invicta FC promotions), losing them both via stoppage. That said, those fights came early in Aldana’s career and were against legitimate competition in Larissa Pacheco and Tonya Evinger (the latter a fight where Aldana was also battling the flu). Furthermore, Aldana – like a lot of my favorite Mexican fighters – seems to get stronger as the fight goes on, which suits her high-output sensibilities well. Nevertheless, I will still be curious to see how Alanda deals with her first high-level southpaw. Although I already stated that we could see fewer kicks and a less-confident jab early, I do believe that Aldana’s up-jab variation to a cross could have some serious play and would not be surprised to see her high kick come to life in this open-stance affair. However, I suspect Aldana’s counter right will be the ultimate weapon to watch out for. From her first fight with Pennington to her defeats at the hands of Valentina Shevchenko, Germaine de Randamie and Amanda Nunes, the counter right hand has been a well-known kryptonite for Holm in both boxing and MMA. Add in the fact that Holm’s patterns seem to be – especially at this point in her career – very deeply rooted, and I suspect that Aldana can find enough openings to get her groove going as this fight wears on. Unless Holm is able to hurt Aldana or demonstrate grappling and clinch dominance early and often, then I’m not sure her point-scoring style will be enough to combat the output that will likely be coming back at her. For that reason, I’ll somewhat reluctantly side with Aldana to outwork her 38-year-old foe down the stretch, leaving the door open for a possible finish late.
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