“We are making history,” she laughs, but reaching the top of the sport is serious business for Aldana. “It has been my goal since I started in this sport and it would be great to be the first hundred percent Mexican to win a UFC belt. I am so proud to represent my country and my people, and I hope I can do a very good job. “
For all of this to happen in the space of a decade is quite remarkable, but Aldana paid her dues, both in the gymnasium and on the night of combat, and although it was difficult to luge at first , she continued, even if her family just wondered what was going on with their recent college graduate.
“My family was overwhelmed,” said Aldana with a laugh. “I only did three fights in Mexico and they said to me,” Okay, this is just a hobby, she just has fun, she doesn’t hurt herself. “”
These three fights lasted one minute and 18 seconds combined. Then Aldana went to Brazil for fight number four and that fight with Larissa Pacheco was not as good.
“I had a really bad time there,” she recalls. “My face was very, very swollen and my family saw this fight. I was knocked down in the third round and they saw it and there was really a drama in my house. My mom was so crazy – “Why are you doing this? You hurt yourself. “I said I would do it anyway. So I did it and now they’re my number one fan.”
They are not the only ones to applaud Aldana, who chained the five fights at Invicta FC where she went 4-1 with three bonuses after the fight. That earned her a place at the UFC in 2016, but she struggled in her first two fights against Leslie Smith and Katlyn Chookagian, at least on the judges’ dashboards. Yet despite these two losses, she won an overnight fight bonus against Smith and abandoned a split decision to Chookagian that many thought she deserved to win. For Aldana, however, it was a 0-2 start to his career at the UFC.
“It was a little overwhelming when I entered the UFC,” she admits. “I didn’t have a lot of experience, and I was excited, I was nervous and it was a mountain of emotions when I first arrived, and I made technical mistakes during my first fight. Then the second fight, I thought I won, but it was a close fight and I could have gone anyway, so it wasn’t really a bad, a bad loss. I didn’t start with a win, so I really wanted that win too, and it didn’t happen, so it was a bit difficult for me. I went back to the gymnasium, continued to train, improve, and knew I had to go back to the win column. ”
She arrived against Talita Bernardo in January 2018 and she has not looked back, with the only fault since then, a split decision defeat against Raquel Pennington in July 2019. Is Irene Aldana ready for the next step? You know it is.
“I won (against Bernardo) and I continued to improve mentally and technically, and I always felt more comfortable in the UFC cage, facing all the people and all the pressure which comes with being in a fight at the UFC. So I kept getting used to it and I’m more comfortable and I have more confidence in myself and my team and things are improving. “