Irene Aldana is ready to bring another UFC title back to Mexico.
UFC 289 has seen some alterations to its top-billed fights since originally announced for June 10, 2023, in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada. A rib injury to former Bantamweight titleholder, Julianna Pena, knocked her from her trilogy headliner clash with the two-division champion, Amanda Nunes. Therefore, opening the door for Mexico’s Aldana to save the day.
Aldana’s title shot is arguably overdue and the fight that should have been made in the first place. The 35-year-old Lobo Gym product is currently floating around +300 odds as a betting underdog. 2023 has been a great year for Mexico, holding three titles in UFC at present. UFC Hall of Famer and former Light Heavyweight champion, Rashad Evans, believes the mixed martial arts (MMA) world is about to see a fourth.
“I’ve got to go with Aldana,” Evans said on UFC Live (h/t MMA Junkie). “Mexico’s on the surge, but Aldana, she’s such a massive force. She seems so big in there and that left hook, oh my God. Absolutely she catches her [on the feet].
“I think it’s a better match up and nothing against Julianna Pena,” he continued. “I felt like she still needs to work on a few wrinkles in her game and I’m glad that she’s gonna have to take a little longer road to get to where she needs to be in the championship spot. But Aldana for me is — she’s on the surge and Mexico is so hot right now. It’s got a lot of momentum right now and they’re training together. When you’re in that environment, and I’ve been in those teams, the energy there is just on another level so you kind of start to level up to everyone around you and I feel like that’s where Aldana is.”
Aldana will enter her first UFC title tilt off of two big knockout wins over Yana Santos (formerly Kunitskaya) and Macy Chiasson. On the flip side, Nunes makes her first Bantamweight title defense since Dec. 2019. She reclaimed 135-pound gold via a dominant unanimous decision against the aforementioned Pena in July 2022 (watch highlights).