Irene Aldana will become the first Mexican woman to headline a UFC event on Saturday, and there may be even more in store for the bantamweight if she beats Holly holm in the main event of UFC on ESPN 16 on Fight Island.

Holly Holm Irene Aldana
Holly Holm (left) and Irene Aldana (right) will face off in the main event of UFC on ESPN 16 on Saturday night. (Image: Getty)

Aldana (12-5) comes in as the No. 6 ranked contender in the UFC’s women’s bantamweight division, while Holm (13-5) sits in the No. 2 position.

Aldana Focused on Holm, But Sees Title Potential

But those are just numbers. UFC president Dana White has made it clear that Aldana is next in line for a shot at champion Amanda Nunes, provided she can get past Holm first.

“I’m very aware that this fight will open the doors so that my next bout could be for the title,” Aldana told Hablemos MMA. “At the moment, I’m very focused on the fight, very focused on Holly Holm. Once I win the fight, then I will focus on the title fight. But I know that this is definitely an opportunity that will take me to the title.”

Aldana enters the bout having won her last two fights and five of he last six. The only loss in that time came in a split decision to fellow top contender Raquel Pennington last July. She hasn’t fought since December, when she knocked out Ketlen Vieira late in the first round at UFC 245.

UFC on ESPN 16 Odds (via PointsBet)
Holly Holm (-125) vs. Irene Aldana (-104)
Yorgan de Castro (-250) vs. Carlos Felipe (+195)
Germaine de Randamie (-154) vs. Julianna Pena (+120)
Kyler Phillips (-475) vs. Cameron Else (+340)
Dequan Townsend (+260) vs. Dusko Todorovic (-350)

Most fight fans are well familiar with Holm’s career. A world champion boxer, Holm famously handed Ronda Rousey her first defeat at UFC 193 in 2015 to win the women’s bantamweight title. She quickly lost that crown to Miesha Tate, and has only gone 3-5 since her career defining win over Rousey. But her losses have come to other legends of the sport, and she remains one of the toughest tests out there for potential title contenders.

Decision Likely in Battle of Strikers

But Holm still maintains her own championship aspirations as well. And while most observers are focusing on this fight as a pathway to a title shot for Aldana, Holm could easily get another opportunity herself with a win.

“I know that with every fight, a win promises more open doors and a loss shuts them,” Holm told the Albuquerque Journal. “So that’s why I definitely want to do so well in this fight, and that’s why I’m always thinking like that, because I know that without doing something now, you’re not promised many opportunities if you don’t make the most of what’s in front of you.”

Holm comes into the fight as a slight favorite, with PointsBet listing the former champion as a -125 pick to beat Aldana (-104). Both women are almost certain to focus on striking, with Holm more polished but Aldana possessing more power. The most likely result is a decision – PointsBet is offering -239 odds on the fight going the distance – and Holm figures to have the advantage in a technical fight that goes to the scorecards.

While UFC on ESPN 16 doesn’t feature a particularly star-studded lineup, there are other interesting fights on the main card. In the co-main event, heavyweights Yorgan De Castro (-250) and Carlos Felipe (+195) could easily finish with a quick knockout, while No. 1 contender Germaine De Randamie (-154) takes on No. 4 Julianna Pena (+120) in a highly relevant women’s bantamweight bout.

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