Irene Aldana started 2018 with her right foot forward.
The Mexican bantamweight fighter picked up her first win since switching to the UFC banner after a 4-1 run in Invicta FC that had her challenging for the bantamweight belt. It was a decision win over Talita Bernardo at last month’s UFC St. Louis that marked Aldana’s first victory inside the Octagon. The win at UFC St. Louis snapped a two-fight losing streak that plagued Aldana’s career in the UFC.
“I felt super happy,” Aldana told MMA Fighting regarding her first victory in the UFC. “It’s another step forward and I realized a very important goal of mine. I was able to put those previous fights behind, where I didn’t do that well, so I was very happy. I was very satisfied with my performance, but either way, there are things I need to improve on. But overall, I was pretty happy and it motivated me to want to fight again.”
Aldana entered the fight with Bernardo with back-to-back loses to veterans Leslie Smith and Katlyn Chookagian. The bout with Smith was a competitive contest that earned Fight of the Night awards, and the fight with Chookagiann ended in a close, and to some controversial, split decision.
But despite being 0-2 in the UFC entering her fight with the Bernardo, the Guadalajara native never doubted into thinking that she wasn’t UFC caliber.
“No, because of the types of fights that I had, I understood that I really belonged there because they were really good and close fights, so I never doubted or thought that maybe it was too soon for me to be in the UFC.
“It mas more of a mental thing for me. I might have lost a little bit of concentration during my fights, which caused me to abandon some technical aspects in the fight. So it was just things that I needed to work on in camp, and more than anything, in that area, but I never doubted.”
With a UFC win under her belt, Aldana has resumed her training at Lobo Gym in Guadalajara, Mexico, and hopes to return to competition around May or April. Aldana is open to fight anyone the UFC puts in front of her, but she would like to fight the opponent she was originally scheduled to meet at UFC St. Louis.
“Honestly, whoever the UFC offers me, but I would like to fight against Bethe Correia,” Aldana said. “She was the one I was originally supposed to fight in this last event (UFC St Louis). It was a fight that excited me a lot, so if it goes down, that’d be super cool. But if not and they offer me someone else, then that’s okay too just as long as it keeps me climbing.”
The 29-year-old bantamweight believes fighting a former title challenger in Correia would be beneficial to her career, as well as an entertaining contest for the fans.
“It would be a very good opportunity and a great fight,” Aldana explained. “She’s a very exciting fighter and very well known in the industry, so I think it would be a very good fight.
“It would be a clash of physical attributes more than anything. She’s short so I would maybe have an advantage in reach. But even though she’s short, she hits very hard and I’ve seen her boxing – I know she has power in her hands. She also handles her strategy well, she’s tough and aggressive. So anything can happen, but I think this would mainly be a boxing match, unless she changes something in her game.”
Ideally, Aldana would like to return for the UFC event that’s rumored to take place in Chile sometime this May.
“Wherever they place me is fine, but personally I think Chile would be a very good option since it’s a Latin American market,” Aldana said. “Chicago would also be cool, the people that live there are very nice and they support me a lot. Argentina could also be an option, I like to fight in Las Vegas too, so I don’t have a place specifically in mind, but I would like to fight in those places.”