Holly Holm has said time and again that she does not want her UFC career to be defined by her shocking knockout of Ronda Rousey. Saturday on “Fight Island,” Holm has a chance to forge her first winning streak since that 2015 victory — and perhaps earn another title shot.
Holm, one of the most popular fighters in mixed martial arts, meets Irene Aldana in the main event of the UFC Fight Night. The bout is a pivotal one in the women’s bantamweight division. In ESPN’s women’s bantamweight rankings, Aldana is No. 5 and Holm is No. 6.
Holm (13-5), the former UFC women’s bantamweight champion, is coming off a unanimous decision win over Raquel Pennington at UFC 246 in January. The New Mexico native has won three of her past five fights, with the losses coming against Amanda Nunes, the current UFC women’s bantamweight and featherweight champion, and former women’s featherweight champ Cris Cyborg.
Holm, 38, is only 3-5 since beating Rousey at UFC 193 on Nov. 15, 2015.
Aldana (12-5) has won two straight and five of her past six fights. She is the first Mexican-born woman to headline a UFC event. The 32-year-old is coming off a first-round knockout of Ketlen Vieira at UFC 245 last December.
In the co-main event, Yorgan De Castro meets Carlos Felipe in a heavyweight bout. De Castro (6-1) had his previously undefeated record tarnished in May against Greg Hardy. Felipe (8-1) is searching for his first UFC victory following a debut loss to Serghei Spivac in July.
Also on the card, women’s bantamweight contenders Germaine de Randamie and Julianna Pena face off; Carlos Condit returns against Court McGee in a welterweight bout; and former Invicta FC women’s atomweight champion Jinh Yu Frey faces Loma Lookboonmee.
UFC Fight Night takes place at the Flash Forum on inside the Yas Island safe zone, which has been dubbed “Fight Island.” Brett Okamoto, Marc Raimondi and Jeff Wagenheim recap the action as it happens.
Fight in progress:
The story of the fight went from how good Kenney looked to astonishment that Heili could take that amount of punishment without ever going down.
Kenney pummeled Heili for three rounds in a unanimous-decision victory (30-25, 30-26, 30-27). Kenney landed hard straight left hands and hard body kicks throughout the fight. By the end, Heili was bleeding from his nose and right ear — and the entire right side of his torso was bruised and red.
Kenney is a savage! Lad can mix it up 💽 #UFCFightIsland4
— Alex Volkanovski (@alexvolkanovski) October 4, 2020
“He ate some solid left hands that a lot of people go down with,” Kenney said. “Alateng is tough as nails.”
After the decision was read, Kenney climbed out of the cage and screamed in the direction of UFC matchmaker Mick Maynard that he wants to fight again next week. Kenney said in his postfight interview that he wants to be more active and figured he needed to really make it known up close and personal.
“I guess I had to say it a little louder,” Kenney said. … “I felt like I needed to do that.”
Kenney, 29, has won two straight and eight of his last nine. The Arizona resident is 4-1 in the UFC and seems to be climbing the bantamweight ladder. Heili, a 28-year-old Mongolian fighter, had a four-fight winning streak snapped.
Luigi Vendramini clobbers Jessin Ayari with a flurry of punches early in Round 1 as he gets the finish at UFC Fight Night.
Lightweight Luigi Vendramini might have woken up all of Abu Dhabi on Saturday with a loud first-round finish (and even louder postfight celebration).
Competing in the event’s curtain-raiser, which took place in the early morning hours local time, Vendramini defeated Jessin Ayari via TKO just 72 seconds into the bout. Immediately after the fight was called, Vendramini unleashed a long, echoing scream inside the crowdless Flash Forum Arena.
— ESPN MMA (@espnmma) October 4, 2020
“Two years, two surgeries, my life was terrible,” said Vendramini, who hadn’t fought since September 2018. “Everything happens for a reason. Now, I feel like my life starts now.”
The finish was a thing of beauty as Vendramini staggered Ayari with a counter left hook to the chin and then swarmed him with punches. Ayari did a great job of clearing the cobwebs at first, and did well moving his head to avoid Vendramini’s follow-up shots, until the Brazilian elevated a nasty right head kick that put Ayari down. Vendramini jumped on Ayari after he fell to the canvas and finished the bout via strikes.
It was the first UFC win of Vendramini’s career, and his seventh first-round finish overall. He did not compete the past two years due to multiple ACL surgeries.