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UFC Fight Island 4 card: Holly Holm vs Irene Aldana full fight preview

UFC Fight Night Holm v Aldana: Weigh-Ins Photo by Josh Hedges/Zuffa LLC

Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) women’s Bantamweight contenders Holly Holm and Irene Aldana will go to war TONIGHT (Sat., Oct. 3, 2020) inside Flash Forum on “Fight Island” in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates.

Like it or not, Holm is never far removed from a title shot. The former champion is in the win column already, so a second victory over a highly-ranked foe would almost guarantee her a rematch with Amanda Nunes ... even if her odds of winning that rematch are not exactly great. On the other side of the equation, Aldana’s stunning upset over Ketlen Vieira elevated her from prospect to contender status in an instant. It’s almost a shock that she didn’t receive a title shot right away, but the Mexican athlete definitely has a chance to secure that opportunity tonight.

Let’s take a closer look at the keys to victory for each woman:

Holly Holm

Record: 13-5
Key Wins: Ronda Rousey (UFC 193), Raquel Pennington (UFC 246, UFC 184), Megan Anderson (UFC 225), Marion Reneau (UFC Fight Night 71)
Key Losses: Amanda Nunes (UFC 239), Cris Cyborg (UFC 219), Germaine de Randamie (UFC 208), Miesha Tate (UFC 196), Valentina Shevchenko (UFC on FOX 20)
Keys to Victory: It’s almost better to not mention Holm’s extensive boxing background, because it rarely factors into his fights. Realistically, Holm is an excellent kicker who maintains a steady pace for 15-to-25 minutes and is difficult to take down — those are the relevant skills at play in the cage.

So yeah, my advice to the former world boxing champion would be to avoid the pocket. Aldana is younger and more powerful, likely plenty willing to bite down and test chins. Holm doesn’t want to trade shots with such an opponent, particularly since Aldana is riding a wave of confidence following the recent knockout win.

Fortunately, Holm does excel at frustrating opponents. Evasive is an understatement when Holm is actively circling, as she’s more than patient in jamming side kicks and round kicks then circling off repeatedly. In addition, Holm is physically strong in the clinch, happy to hold her foes along the fence and score some control time.

It may be boring to watch, but in a three-round bout, Holm only needs to win two rounds via kicks and clinch to be named the victor.

Irene Aldana

Record: 12-5
Key Wins: Ketlen Vieira (UFC 245), Bethe Correia (UFC 237), Lucie Pudilova (UFC 228)
Key Losses: Raquel Pennington (UFC on ESPN 4), Katlyn Chookagian (UFC 210), Leslie Smith (UFC on FOX 22)
Keys to Victory: Training on the same team as Flyweight prospect Amanda Grasso, Aldana is a similarly aggressive and heavy-handed boxer. She moves well and has a rather educated left hand, which has helped her to end half of her professional victories via knockout.

Aldana cannot allow herself to fall into the two traps Holm sets for opponents. Holm wins fights either by 1) sucking her opponent into a points contest, in which her range kicks and clinch control are tricky, or 2) landing heavy counters when her foe tries to force her way out of the points game.

Just because it’s been a while since Holm cracked anyone with a counter left cross doesn’t mean it’s safe to get reckless. Aldana has to pressure her way forward carefully, finding opportunities to gain the pocket and throw in combination without over-exposing herself. Whenever Holm does back off, kicking at the legs is a good idea.

Perhaps more than any other time, Holm is vulnerable when she flurries forward and tries to set up her kicks. Aldana has the pop in her fists to make her pay and thus limit Holm’s volume, so trying to counter often should be a major part of the plan as well.

Bottom Line

This is a pretty clear-cut title eliminator.

Is there a chance Holm is forced to fight one more time even with a win here? Sure, UFC could hand the next Bantamweight shot to Julianna Pena if she wins tonight or perhaps Ketlen Vieira. Hell, Nunes could simply want six months of rest after her next defense, and who could argue?

Regardless, a win makes another Holm title shot in 2021 a pretty realistic possibility.

As for Aldana, the situation is more decided. Barring injury or disaster, she will face Nunes for the Bantamweight crown next with a victory. Again, it’s hard to like the odds of anyone facing “Lioness,” but at least Aldana can throw some heat and at least appears to have the physical gifts necessary not to simply be overpowered by the Brazilian.

Remember that will deliver LIVE round-by-round, blow-by-blow coverage of the entire UFC Fight Island 4 fight card this weekend right here, starting with the ESPN+/ESPN “Prelims” matches, which are scheduled to begin at 7:30 p.m. ET, then the remaining main card balance on ESPN+/ESPN at 10:30 p.m. ET.

To check out the latest and greatest UFC Fight Island 4: “Holm vs. Aldana” news and notes be sure to hit up our comprehensive event archive right here.

At UFC Fight Island 4, Holly Holm and Irene Aldana will clash in the main event. Which woman will have her hand raised?

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