Irene Aldana proud to represent Mexico on verge of UFC history: ‘It fills me with pride’

Irene Aldana is happy she still has a chance to make history for her country.

A Mexican fighter, Aldana (12-5 MMA, 5-3 UFC) was supposed to headline UFC on ESPN+ 31 this Saturday in Las Vegas against former women’s bantamweight champion Holly Holm. Had the fight taken place, Aldana would have become the first Mexican-born woman to headline a UFC event. Instead, Aldana tested positive for COVID-19 and was forced to withdraw.

Fortunately for Aldana, the UFC postponed the fight and has elected against seeking a short-notice replacement for Holm. The promotion also told Aldana their fight will be rebooked as a five-round main event for a card later this year, renewing the opportunity for Aldana to make history for Mexico.

“This is a very important fight for me,” Aldana said in Spanish on MMA Junkie’s “Hablemos MMA” podcast. “It’s a very interesting fight for me, and a lot of people were waiting for it, and that’s why I was training very hard, and I was very motivated for this bout.

“I did think, at some point, maybe I could lose the fight, and maybe they do offer a replacement for Holly Holm – and, well, that would be understandable if that were to happen, but it’s not something that I wanted. I never told the UFC, ‘Hey, can you postpone the fight for me?’ or anything like that. They offered to postpone it, and they never communicated to me that they were looking to get a new opponent for Holy Holm. The first thing they said is that they were going to postpone it, and I’m very grateful for them for doing that. It will still be a main event, a fight for five rounds.”

Aldana is grateful at the opportunity to make history for Mexico and is fueled by the responsibility of representing her country in the biggest stage of MMA.

“Of course, the fact of being able to represent Mexico on the biggest MMA promotion in the world is very important for me, and it gives me a lot of pride to be able to be the first 100-percent Mexican woman to headline a card in the UFC,” Aldana said. “Being able to make history in that manner motivates me, and it fills me with pride. It’s an excellent opportunity, and I’m very grateful with the UFC for keeping the fight that way.”

Aldana was ready for Aug. 1 and wanted to be fit to compete at UFC on ESPN+ 31. However, she does see the bright side of the postponement, as she’ll have more time to prepare for the biggest fight of her career.

“The truth is that I was already prepared,” Aldana explained. “I felt very good. I had an excellent camp. But the fact that I now have more time to prepare? Well, yeah, looking at things on the positive side I’m going to be even more ready. It’s extra time to prepare, but the main thing here is to make a full recovery and be 100 percent. Then after that concentrate to get back to where I was and feel 100 percent again. So if I was already feeling good, I’m going to be three times better. I hope that’s a plus from this experience, that I’m able to come back even stronger, with better conditioning, even more focused, and make the most of this extra time that I have to train.”

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