UFC Betting Pick: Holly Holm vs Irene Aldana

We are sticking around Fight Island in Abu Dhabi for a while longer before we are probably headed back to Vegas again.

As you’re aware, the UFC has been putting on events pretty darn regularly since they returned from the lockdown in early May. It has been 21 weeks, in fact, since the UFC has started putting on events in today’s global climate and this will be their 21st event over that span of time.

I really like the matchup in the main event as well.

I do have to admit that I am not the biggest fan of Holly Holm’s style but as far as betting purposes go, her fights have not been that difficult to predict… Well, in hindsight, of course.

If you had her against Ronda Rousey then you might still have some of that money. That was really the only shocker of her entire career, though.

After Ronda for Holly Holm came Meisha Tate, another strong grappler who she had outclassed on the feet. Meisha took a “slightly” more measured approach in her fight with Holly then Rousey did… By slightly, I mean by about 10,000 miles.

Ronda’s performance was obviously one of the worst of all-time. She just ran her face into straight left hands over and over.

Poor Ronda. I know she’s got money and all but I really felt bad for her there even though she was still pretty cocky. Her coach did not train her mind or her skill set correctly and Holly Holm was able to exploit both limitations.

Meisha had a hard time getting Holly to the mat in that fight but she made it happen, secured the submission, and strapped on her new belt. That was in March of 2016. Since then, Holly has dropped 5 of her previous 8 fights albeit to mostly stellar competition.

We will dive more into her and her opponent’s recent performances in a few.

Irene Aldana is a dangerous opponent for any woman in the UFC’s Bantamweight Division.

Standing tall at 5’9” and coming off of a full sleepy-time KO of another large lady for the weight class, Brazil’s Ketlen Vieira, is Mexico’s Irene Aldana.

She is a different fighter than Holly has faced in her UFC career. Normally, we can find a past fight with a similar athlete and use it for comparison but Holly hasn’t really faced anyone like her.

Let’s take a look at the measurables for this fight and see if we can find any glaring differences to get us started on our breakdown.

Holly Holm Irene Aldana
Fight Record: 13-5 Fight Record: 12-5
Age: 39 Age: 32
Height: 5’8” Height: 5’9”
Reach: 69” Reach: 69”
From: Albuquerque, New Mexico From: Guadalajara, Jalisco, Mexico
Fight Camp: Jackson/Wink MMA Fight Camp: Lobo Gym MMA

Their records are quite similar but I easily give The Preacher’s Daughter the advantage in strength of schedule. She beat Ronda. That was huge!

Then fought Tate, Valentina Shevchenko, Germaine de Randamie, Cris Cyborg, and Amanda Nunes. Wow.

  • Tate would have been the champ earlier on if it wasn’t for Rousey.
  • Valentina, in my opinion, is the pound for pound #1 female mixed martial artist on the planet.
  • Germaine de Randamie, who is also fighting this weekend, is a Muay Thai world champion and possibly the most dangerous striker in all of women’s MMA.
  • Cris Cyborg, well, she was known as the best in the world for years.
  • Amanda Nunes is the current double champion of the UFC Women’s Bantamweight and Featherweight Divisions.

Those are some quality losses right there. Most of them were fairly easy to predict, though, I think.

Yes, the Meisha Tate fight came down to the end but we kinda knew Holly wasn’t quite on the level of Shevchenko, de Randamie, Nunes, and Cyborg in the striking department. Those are 4 of the best, though. Holly’s striking is still some of the most efficient in the division.

Sandwiched in those 5 losses are a couple of wins for Holly that were very easy money for her and her backers. Megan Anderson and Bethe Correia.

She rematched Raquel Pennington in January and won a unanimous decision but it wasn’t pretty.

Holly is a master of non-fighitng. Her camp at Jackson/Wink is famous for their superior game plans but bordering on infamy for their avoidance of the fight within the fight.

She and her coaches are very intelligent. They know when they are that much better than their opponent and that’s the only time Holly will ever go for the finish.

When she fights someone like Raquey, she understands that she probably won’t be able to finish her so she uses the clinch to hold her opponent still, uses her sidekicks to the leg to keep her opponent away from her, and sometimes she will just punch and kick at the air to get her numbers up.

  • As a fan, I hate this type of fighting. The playing to the judges.
  • As a handicapper, prediction guy, and better myself, I freakin’ love it!

It was crazy how quickly I stepped down from that soapbox and how excited I got when I saw Holly’s name on the betting board. Money is an equalizer. I tell ya.

Aldana is kind of a unicorn here, though.

She isn’t the same type of fighter as Raquey Pennington. She is better at range than Raquel but probably not as strong in the clinch where Holly will likely hold a strong advantage.

As you can see, the range is the same for each woman and that usually means they will be hitting each other more regularly.

It is the kicking game that could be the difference for Holly, though.

Aldana, the boxing-heavy stand-up stylist, is going to be a little heavy on that lead leg and you know Holm will be kicking at that knee.

That is what got her knocked out against Amanda Nunes going back to that well over and over but it was from a head kick counter and we haven’t seen much of a kicking arsenal from the Mexican superstar.

Irene’s best win was probably her last fight when she knocked out Vieira.

While KO’ing a giant like that is impressive, Ketlen showed us this past weekend that she was probably overrated coming into the UFC when she struggled with a much smaller Sijara Eubanks.

The age gap of the two women is big. 32 and 39 might be the biggest 7-year gap in fighting. 35 and 42 would be rough on the older fighter but the 35-year-old has likely already lost speed.

Look at how well Holly takes care of herself, though. She always shows up in tremendous shape.

Now, let’s take a look at some of the attributes for each fighter and how they may or may not affect the outcome of Saturday’s main event.

Big 5 Holly Holm Irene Aldana
Striking Volume 2.5 4.5
Conditioning 4.0 3.5
Fight IQ 5.0 3.5
Durability 4.0 4.0
Heart/Mental Strength 4.0 3.5

The biggest difference here is striking volume!

That is a statistic sometimes reserved for the fighter appealing to the judges.

Irene Aldana needs just 13 strikes to pull ahead of Raquel Pennington for first place all-time in the UFC Women’s Bantamweight Division for significant strikes landed.

She is currently at 667 total sig strikes landed and Holly pales in comparison at 326.

Their particular rates are 2.75 landed/minute for Holm and over 6 landed/minute for Irene Aldana.

They are at 35 and 38% landing percentages a piece, though, which is terrible, in my opinion, especially for them normally holding a reach advantage over their opponents.

Their defensive statistics are flipped, though, and both get hit as much as they land.

The respective mentalities of the two women are not the same, I don’t believe.

This is evidenced by their offensive and defensive striking statistics.

We know Holly is out there to do just enough to win and not quite enough to put her into any danger.

Irene fights like a lot of Mexican fighters. She loves to fight.

She wants to fight.

This mentality can work for you at times but can be very frustrating mentally when your opponent doesn’t want to dance with you.

They take every opportunity possible to avoid the fight within the fight and over several rounds, this can wear on you mentally.

Keep in mind that this fight is 5 rounds and Holm has much more experience in those championship rounds than her opponent.

Let’s look at the betting lines for this fight brought to us by online sportsbook BetOnline and make our predictions on either a winner or a possible round total or prop.

Moneyline

  • Holm -116
  • Aldana -104
Round Total

  • Over 4.5 (-250)
  • Under 4.5 (+175)
Decision Prop

  • Fight goes (-190)
  • Fight doesn’t go (+150)

Getting Holly Holm at nearly even money against any fighter who isn’t elite seems like a good bet if you look at her history.

The argument can be made here for both women. More of an argument or at least a longer argument can be made, though, for The Preacher’s Daughter, Holly Holm.

She has the 5-round experience. She has the strength, the clinch, and the kicks.

I think this storm is different, though.

Irene is at the top of her mixed martial arts game and career. She has never been better than she is right now.

Holly Holm, though, looked pretty bad against Raquel Pennington in her last fight even though she came away with the win.

I think Holly just matches up very well with Pennington who relies on her boxing and the clinch where Holm is a notch better in each skill.

Holm does have a decent amount of muscle mass and she will be 39 in a matter of days.

Holly likes to set the pace of her fights and I think Irene Aldana’s volume matched with her length is going to allow her to make Holm work.

Path To Victory

Holly Holm

I can see Holly winning this fight by spending as much time clinching with her opponent up against the cage as possible.

Irene had trouble with Raquel in the clinch and Holly controlled her.

Holly will need to win in the clinch and keep it even in the striking exchanges. Her knee kicks and side kicks to the body should fair well against the heavy lead-legged Aldana.

This should help her win a decision.

Irene Aldana

I think Irene Aldana can hurt Holly with a punch and follow up on the mat with a finish like she did in her last fight against Ketlen Vieira.

That is one way. It isn’t the likely way, though.

Her best path to victory is staying in Holly’s face. That is number 1.

Holm loves her space. Take that away and use your power and youth advantage to out strike her.

Betting Prediction

My gut is telling me to go with Irene Aldana here. Holly is the better fighter on paper, though, besides the age difference that is.

It’s times like this that I am reminded of a quote.

“Those who have knowledge, don’t predict. Those who predict, don’t have knowledge.” Lao Tzu

Predicting the winner here as if I know what is going to happen is a ridiculous thought.

Luckily, with the betting odds lined so closely, we only need about a 60/40 lean either way to make a valuable betting play.

Holly has too many boxes checked not to bet her at (-118).

We aren’t used to seeing her in a closely lined fight but unless she gets cracked and put away, which will be the first time we have seen that from a punch, I think Holly Holm wins a decision this Saturday night.

My Pick
Holly Holm

In Conclusion

This should be a great fight and as I said, pretending to predict it with your play crystal ball is preposterous.

Irene has a path to victory but Holly is a MASTER of appealing to the judges. She has such a likable personality too which doesn’t hurt. Irene’s nature and spirit is to get in there and truly find out who the better “fighter” is.

Holm and her team of experienced coaches couldn’t care less about that, though. They’re only concerned about winning rounds which means you win the fight.

Irene’s money punch is her left hook and that will be muted against the left-handed Holm.

Get your bets in now because I think the late money will come in on Holly and enjoy these scraps on Saturday night!

Mike Pruitt / Author

Mike has been covering sports professionally since 2017 but on the amateur scene for 25 years since when he was 12. Before the internet changed the world, he would keep detailed statistical box scores of NFL and NBA contests, write recaps, and voluntarily commentate games and fights alone in his room. Mike's military experience, Bachelors Degree, and employment thereafter were always rooted in engineering, science, and teaching. Now he enjoys being able to express himself through writing about football, golf, and car racing among other sports but most of all fighting as his life has been rooted in mixed martial arts including competing and teaching for the past 15 years.