UFC on ESPN 16: Holm vs Aldana Predictions & Results

#2 Holly Holm and #6 Irene Aldana face off in a Women’s Bantamweight clash that will likely result in a first-class ticket to an Amanda Nunes championship beatdown.

UFC on ESPN 16: Holm vs Aldana Predictions & Results

Many days I ponder to myself, why Lord, why did you allow Holly Holm to defeat Ronda Rousey? Sure, Rousey was developing an increasingly insufferable ego as she tore apart the scraps of the women’s divisions, but at least she brought the entertainment to the octagon. Holm, on the other hand, is more than content to engage in tippy-tappy decision affairs. An emphatic stoppage win over Rousey can justify Holm’s prized position within the UFC for one, even two, of her fairly immediate shots at a title. But a third title shot against Nunes simply for beating Megan Anderson? Anderson, who if we’re being brutally honest, has remained in the UFC based on looks rather than ability. It boggles the mind how the match-makers regularly overestimate the draw or appeal of Holm. Her only other stoppage win in the organisation, over Bethe Correia, required a God-tier endurance for viewers to get to the finish. The major issue is that Holm usually finds a way to stink out the joint by dragging her opponent into a drawn-out, stare-off. Despite the great appeal of Aldana’s fluid boxing work, and her shaky striking defence, is the sickening knowledge that Holm will entrance her Mexican counterpart into a Cold War of begrudging patience.

Not to be a negative nelly, but a quick glance over the rest of the card poses the question: Did the UFC really try their hardest? Several UFC debutants with little to no fanfare behind them, no ranked male fighters (accounting for nine out of the eleven fights), and the sad return of Condit who is looking to break his five-fight and five-year slide. That isn’t to say that there won’t be any action on Saturday, barring the main event. The prospect of a UFC contract and the opportunity to fight before a national audience has resulted in debutants pouring their all into the fight. Many relative ‘no-bodies’ have made a real name for themselves. Brandon Royval appeared out of obscurity to batter established UFC fighters, Kai-Kara France and Tim Elliot, and earn himself the seventh place in the Flyweight rankings. Khamzat Chimaev is one of the hottest prospects in the entire company after a dominating three-fight stoppage streak and has already had his ceiling likened to Lightweight great, Khabib Nurmagomedov. There is no better time for a debutant to dig deep and search for their highlight reel finish than in the octagon on Saturday night.

UFC 154 results: Carlos Condit's head kick was the best thing to happen to  Georges St. Pierre - MMAmania.com
Carlos Condit lands a powerful head kick on the P4P MMA Goat, GSP, during his Welterweight title bid at UFC 154. 17 November 2012.

Main Event

Women’s Bantamweight (135)

Holly Holm (13-5) vs Irene Aldana (12-5)

Holly Holm has a fantastic boxing background that she is more than willing to utilise in the octagon. A former world champion boxer, Holm is most comfortable on her feet and counter-striking opponents. Rousey’s lack of striking intelligence meant her front-foot aggression was swiftly broken down by the crisp hands of Holm. Holm maintained a constant, uncomfortable mid-range and timed her shots to connect after Rousey had attempted to windmill her way into a takedown. A back-foot puncher is a delight to watch in the correct match-up, however, unfortunately for Holm, every opponent since has not wished to meet the end that befell Rousey. Sitting on the back-foot, opponents have figured out they can force Holm onto her less effective front-foot boxing and minimise the damage they receive.

Holm’s kicking game is a fantastic twist to her front-foot boxing woes. Aside from the brutal head kick finishes of Correia and Rousey, Holm’s best kicks are teep kicks which drain the gas tank and create a barrier to maintain the ideal mid-range. An imposing athletic build also trumps much of her grappling inadequacies. In times of danger, Holm engages in a clinch to take away some of the threat i.e. Cyborg.

Aldana is a fantastic boxer too, perhaps even better on the front foot than Holm. Coming off of a mammoth first-round knockout of the undefeated Ketlen Vieira, Aldana showed true aggression and electric hand speed. Led by a regular spearing jab, Aldana frustrates her opponents with volume before barraging them with a whirlwind of hooks that incorporates heavy bodywork. Possessing the crispest hands in the division isn’t going to keep you in the W column forever, however. Aldana struggles to move her head off the centre line upon finishing her combination, and it is primed to be taken off by a Holm head kick. Worse still, if Aldana rushes in with little regard to distance, she may find herself clinched up and backed up against the cage. Holm is savvy enough and certainly strong enough to drain the gas tank of Aldana and coast rounds by grappling.

Predicted Result: Holm Decision

Banking on a Holm finish these days is a terrible idea, but Aldana is a very hittable opponent. Despite several losses on her record, Holm has only lost to the elite women. Holm’s striking should not have regressed to the point where she is overwhelmed by Aldana’s suffocating aggression.

Holly Holm beats Ronda Rousey to become UFC world champion – video | Sport  | The Guardian
MMA is not a forgiving sport, it does not allow any of its competitors an ‘off-day’, as Ronda Rousey realised at UFC 193. 14 November 2015.

Result: Holm def. Aldana // Decision (unanimous – 50-45, 50-45, 50-44)

Winner ✔️ // Method ✔️ // Round ✔️


Co-Main Event

Heavyweight (265)

Yorgan De Castro (6-1) vs Carlos Felipe (8-1)

Yorgan De Castro fought against Hardy like he had been advised to stay ineffective or risk his stay in the UFC. A powerful back-foot counter-puncher, de Castro cruised for three rounds despite establishing his power in the first couple of minutes in the contest. Let us be honest, De Castro is not a true heavyweight, he is a man who rides his technical skills while disregarding his athleticism. Patience, timing and shot selection are rare qualities amongst heavyweights, a division which is dominated by swang n bangers. If De Castro could utilise his punishing leg kicks more, and incorporate them into combinations, he would be able to apply forward pressure against the scrubs.

Carlos Felipe is not a fighter who should be appearing on the co-main event right now, or probably ever. At only twenty-five, Felipe has a lot of time to refine his skills, but as of now, he is a one-dimensional power puncher. Wonky footwork, paper-thin guard, and reckless whiffing of punches, Felipe is bailed out by his powerful right hand. Against Spivak, Felipe showed his strength at times to stuff takedowns and exit clinches, but was unable to apply consistent pressure on the feet against a poor striker.

Predicted Result: De Castro TKO Round 2

It is sloppy heavyweights so any punch can end this, especially as De Castro isn’t exactly a proven gem yet. But, De Castro’s strengths are ideal to stop Felipe in this showdown. Felipe is far too eager to lunge into attacks, and while over-extending on a combination, De Castro will be able to capitalise.

UFC 249 Stats Preview: Head-To-Head Look At Greg Hardy Vs. Yorgan De Castro  - Internewscast
Captured moments before Yorgan de Castro decapitates the outstretched chin of Justin Tafa. UFC 243, 5 October 2019.

Result: Felipe def. De Castro // Decision (unanimous – 29-28, 30-27, 30-27)

Winner ❌ // Method ❌ // Round ❌


Main Card

Women’s Bantamweight (135)

Germaine de Randamie (9-4) vs Julianna Peña (9-3)

GDR is a horrendously slept on fighter in the Women’s Bantamweight division for one major reason – the crime of vacating her Featherweight title instead of fighting the utterly dominant Cris Cyborg. Ducking a fighter is a sinful admission for any competitor, but to vacate your title as well, a prize that many other fighters would rather die to defend, it just didn’t sit right with most of the MMA audience. Then again, they weren’t the ones having to absorb the power of Cyborg. This underestimation of GDR resulted in many being shocked at GDR’s fabulous kickboxing display against another similarly dominant champion, Amanda Nunes. GDR has a massive frame for the division and can kick for a full five rounds, especially hurtful body kicks which seemed to be troubling Nunes. A common issue GDR has faced is her inability to get off the mat when placed on it, however. Despite an improved TDD, GDR’s grappling skills and exits are her ultimately downfall (as seen in the decision loss to Nunes).

Peña has the wrestling aptitude to set an uncomfortable pace early, and see it through to the end of the third round. Not necessarily the largest bantamweight, Peña excels in technical skills, and has far too savvy grappling to fail to outwork GDR. The size difference may be an issue with getting GDR to the mat, but once on the ground, Peña is sharp enough to gain large portions of control time. Peña’s striking defence is rather iffy though, and she will have to be careful not to take too many punishing knees or elbows in the clinch as she searches for the takedown.

Predicted Result: GDR Decision

Peña surely has the skillset to nullify the best aspects of GDR’s game, but GDR is the natural bantamweight and will be able to keep herself standing for the majority of the fight.

Result: GDR def. Peña // Submission (guillotine choke) Round 3 3:25

Winner ✔️ // Method ❌ // Round ❌


Bantamweight (135)

Kyler Phillips (7-1) vs Cameron Else (10-4)

Kyler Phillips is an alright fighter, in the sense that his game is well-rounded. Possessing alright skills in every department doesn’t sound like high praise, but an even skillset will have you comfortably positioned in a UFC gatekeeper contract at the very least. This is not to reduce Phillips to this role, or to say his ceiling isn’t far higher. But a leaky-ish striking defence, and a strange shot selection involving spinning attacks with little meaning, means Phillips has to tighten up his game before he fights one of the tougher opponents at Bantamweight.

Else is a regional swang n banger. While its impressive to clean up your domestic rivals in quick fashion, it doesn’t sparkle quite as well if you have been stopped yourself by relative nobodies. Else is a short-notice replacement which is never a good sign if your chin is already somewhat compromised. A lack of training camp and poor weight cut may push Else to pour it all in the first round, and will certainly be in big trouble for the second and third.

Predicted Result: Phillips TKO Round 3

Else is a very powerful puncher, he may throw a spanner in the works of Phillips’ rise in the UFC.

Result: Phillips def. Else // TKO (punches and elbows) Round 2 0:44

Winner ✔️ // Method ✔️ // Round ❌


Middleweight (185)

Dequan Townsend (21-11) vs Duško Todorović (9-0)

Townsend is 0-3 in the UFC, and has only really fought the prospects so far (Devin Clark, Bevon Lewis, Dalcha Lungiambula). A one-note offensive style, Townsend has struggled to set any sort of pace needed for him to comfortably throw combinations. Pot-shotting and long stretches of inactivity, Townsend may be out of the company after this fight unless he can finally put the pieces together on Saturday.

Todorović is a very raw striker who came to prominence in his last fight on the DWCS. A big ol’ grinder, Todorović wears on opponents and chips away with his striking and suffocating grappling. Initially intended to fight John Phillips, a sure-fire ‘gimme fight’ these days, the UFC has decided on Townsend for Todorović’s showcasing.

Predicted Result: Todorović Decision

Townsend needs to establish some form of respect for his power early if he wants to have any chance of winning this fight.

Result: Todorović def. Townsend // TKO (punches) Round 2 3:15

Winner ✔️ // Method ❌ // Round ❌


Preliminary Card

Welterweight (170)

Carlos Condit (30-13) vs Court McGee (19-9)

Condit is suffering with an affliction that many of the veterans are experiencing too. The inability to fire off their shots when they need to. Perhaps unwilling to engage in a dangerous mid-range shootout, Condit/Lawler/Woodley all seem to have become gun-shy despite their best weapons being their striking power. Worse still for Condit, he has fought his last few bouts at a snails pace and looked far gone from his title challenging days. The real kicker? Condit has ALWAYS struggled with wrestlers, and McGee is a fighter who is hellbent on working a takedown.

McGee is a veteran too, one who has nowhere near the resume quality of Condit. McGee, however, fights with a similar pace and intensity as he did a decade ago. Sheer workrate and a solid enough chin means that McGee will be able to hug Condit across the three rounds and not drop a minute on the cards.

Predicted Result: McGee Decision

Really, really hoping that Condit can turn back the hands of time and earn himself a W before he retires.

Result: Condit def. McGee // Decision (unanimous – 30-27, 30-27, 30-27)

Winner ❌ // Method ✔️ // Round ✔️


Featherweight (145)

Joshua Culibao (8-1) vs Charles Jourdain (10-3)

A banger of a fight on an otherwise dire card. Culibao is a striking heavy fighter with a very raw strategy – end his opponent. Bolstered by his athleticism, Culibao swarms his opposing man and drowns them with volume. Not the most technically gifted, Culibao is an action-first fighter and we applaud that.

Jourdain is a fighter with maybe the biggest question mark over their ceiling. Only twenty-four years old, Jourdain is an extremely unpredictable striker in the octagon. Jourdain has a wonderful jab, but is more than willing to throw aside his polished striking fundamentals, and to throw a hectic spinning elbow or flying knee. A back and forth affair with Andre Fili showcased Jourdain’s abilities and had Fili hurt several times during the fight. Keep an eye on the Canadian nutter.

Predicted Result: Jourdain TKO Round 2

Jourdain is too erratic for Culibao to apply calculated offensive pressure, and will find himself on the end of a spinning counter no doubt.

Result: Draw (split – 30-27, 28-29, 28-28)

Winner ❌ // Method ❌ // Round ❌


Middleweight (185)

Jordan Williams (9-3) vs Nassourdine Imavov (8-2)

Williams is a rugged combination boxer emerging from the DWCS. Imavov is a powerful counter puncher entering from the European scene. Both men operate on a striking-first mentality. Both men hit really, really hard for the weight. Williams is the more polished in terms of striking defence, as Imavov’s main defence is using his 6’3″ frame to lean back to avoid danger. Imavov’s reach may cause some troubles for Williams who is more than eager to remain in the pocket for the entire contest.

Predicted Result: Williams Decision

Both men can turn off each other’s lights with one punch, both men are young prospects, both men will surely fight again in the UFC regardless of the result.

Result: Imavov def. Williams // Decision (unanimous – 29-28, 29-27, 29-27)

Winner ❌ // Method ✔️ // Round ✔️


Women’s Strawweight (115)

Loma Lookboonmee (4-2) vs Jinh Yu Frey (9-5)

These are two Strawweight’s who really struggle to compete in the UFC, as their more natural weight is one division down. Moreover, their styles are far more suited to competing against women of a similar build. Lookboonmee has struggled to batter people in the clinch, as she hasn’t been strong enough to hold the clinch for extended periods. Frey’s best work is on the ground but her small frame has left her unable to takedown an opponent regularly.

Predicted Result: Lookboonmee Decision

Lookboonmee is the better striker in this affair, and should be savvy enough to keep this fight away from the ground, leaving Frey in no-mans land on the feet.

Result: Lookboonmee def. Frey // Decision (unanimous – 29-28, 30-27, 30-27)

Winner ✔️ // Method ✔️ // Round ✔️


Bantamweight (135)

Casey Kenney (14-2-1) vs Heili Ataleng (14-7-1)

Kenney is still searching for a breakout performance, despite huge scalps in Louis Smolka, Manny Bermudez and Ray Borg. I mean, if you could take Kenney’s win against Brandon Royval at LFA, and simply replay it in the octagon in 2020, you could generate some decent fan-fare for the Portland native. A slugger, Kenney negates any form of striking defence in favour of landing his own shots. Taking one to give one is a legitimate strategy, taking one to give three/four is a winning strategy.

Ataleng deserves a bit more respect than his record suggests. Losing six of his first ten fights, Ataleng has finally pieced together a winning formula that he sees through to the bitter end. Rush an opponent with short combinations and engage immediately into a takedown. A rudimentary strategy, but one that has earned Ataleng a 2-0 start against the bottom-barrel of the UFC roster. Ataleng would really benefit from incorporating leg kicks into his arsenal, to root his opponent and to make his basic boxing slightly more effective.

Predicted Result: Kenney TKO Round 3

Lets get some hype going for Kenney, my man is a certified banger.

Result: Kenney def. Ataleng // Decision (unanimous – 30-25, 30-26, 30-27)

Winner ✔️ // Method ❌ // Round ❌


Lightweight (155)

Jessin Ayari (16-5) vs Luigi Vendramini (8-1)

Ayari is coming off of a two-year layoff to move down from welterweight and aims to bring his power with him. A long-range fighter, Ayari utilises his reach to keep opponents far away and outworks them with his straight shots. Fairly limited fighter.

Vendramini is an unknown entity, disregarding his stoppage loss to Elizeu Zaleski who can knock out anyone on the right day. Vendramini is also on a two-year layoff, which is rather strange for a twenty-four year old prospect. Stopping regional fighters shows there may be power to Vendramini’s game but his best shot is likely grappling-humping Ayari.

Predicted Result: Ayari Decision

Not smoking hot on either of these lads.

Result: Vendramini def. Ayari // TKO (head kick and punches) Round 1:12

Winner ❌ // Method ❌ // Round ❌


Prediction Accuracy

UFC on ESPN 16: Holm vs Aldana

Winner: 6/11

Method: 5/11

Round: 4/11

2020 MMA Season

Winner: 119/197

Method: 93/197

Round: 81/197

Takeaway comments: That’s it lads, pack your bags and go home, ready yourself for another Holly Holm title shot.


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