Dubai: Holly Holm and Irene Aldana will make history at Fight Island 4 on Sunday when they become the first female act to headline a UFC event in Abu Dhabi.
Fomer champion Holm (13-5, 6-5 in the UFC), who is perhaps best remembered for her brutal leg kick KO of Ronda Rousey at UFC 193 in 2015, is currently at No. 2 in the UFC’s female 135-pound rankings.
A former gold-class boxing champion, Holm has since had an up-and-down career during which period she lost the title to Miesha Tate and delivered some inconsistent performances.
However, she comes into Saturday’s contest against Brazil’s Aldana having defeated Raquel Pennington at UFC 246, via an albeit lacklustre performance.
Aldana (12-5, 5-3 UFC), who is currently ranked No. 6 in the division, may have lost her first two UFC bouts but has since won five of six including her most recent bout where she knocked out fellow Brazilian Ketlen Vieira at UFC 245.
Fans can expect plenty of stand-up fighting with both fighters boasting a punching pedigree. In addition both fighters’ striking accuracy and defences percentages are fairly close according to Fight Matrix.
“This fight is taking me one step closer to the belt, definitely” said Aldana. “She’s the second number two-ranked fighter that I’m going to be fighting, the first was Ketlen Vieira. Now, Holly. I’m now fighting the greatest in the division, and I think winning this fight is gonna make it clear that I’m expecting [a title fight].”
Holm responded: “I feel good. I’m ready to rock and roll, let’s do this already. She’s a very tough opponent, I know that, but I’m ready to get in there and put into action everything we’ve been training for in the gym. I’m ready.
“I always feel like I have something to prove, I always want to do my best, I know that my opponent is coming with her best game, but I’m ready for it. She’s a tough opponent, but I have a little bit of ring experience on her, I’m not overlooking her at all.”
The co-main event will feature a heavyweight battle between Yorgan De Castro (6-2) and Carlos Felipe (8-1).
De Castro fights out of the Regiment Training Center in Fall River, Massachusetts, one of the best martial arts gym specialising in Brazilian Jiu-jitsu, while Felipe is a member of Real Life MMA in Brazil.
Both fighters are hoping to bounce back after having suffered defeats in their most recent fights. Castro lost to Greg Hardy by decision at UFC 249 while Felipe, was beaten in his UFC debut earlier this year against Sergey Spivak.
Elsewhere on the main card at Fight Island 4 former UFC women’s featherweight champ Germane de Randamie will face off against Kyle Phillips.
From 2.30am UAE Sunday
Bantamweight: Holly Holm v Irene Aldana
Heavyweight: Yorgan De Castro vs. Carlos Felipe
Bantamweight: Germane de Randamie vs. Julianna Pena Peña
Middleweight: Tom Breese vs. KB Bhullar
Middleweight: Dequan Townsend vs. Dusko Todorovic
Bantamweight: Kyler Phillips vs. Cameron Else
Welterweight: Carlos Condit vs. Court McGee
Featherweight: Charles Jourdain vs. Josh Culibao
Middleweight: Jordan Williams vs. Nassourdine Imavov
Strawweight: Loma Lookboonmee vs. Jinh Yu Frey
Bantamweight: Casey Kenney vs. Alateng Heili
Lightweight: Jessin Ayari vs. Luigi Vendramini