UFC San Antonio Featured Fighter: Irene Aldana

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UFC San Antonio Irene Aldana
Credit: Rodney James Edgar/Cageside Press

Mexico’s Irene Aldana is our Featured Fighter this weekend as she takes on former UFC title challenger Raquel Pennington at UFC San Antonio.

The UFC returns live on ESPN this weekend from Texas for UFC San Antonio. Even though we have top contenders fighting on the main card, we think Irene Aldana will have a breakout performance. Aldana faces her toughest test yet, when she collides with former title challenger Raquel Pennington on the preliminary card.

Last weekend, our Featured Fighter, Brianna Van Buren (read here), impressed spectators with a dominant victory over fellow prospect Livia Renata Souza.

Who is Irene Aldana?

Irene Aldana is a 31-year old mixed martial artist who trains out of Lobo Gym MMA in her homeland of Mexico. She trains alongside fellow Mexican product Alexa Grasso – who had her own breakout performance over Karolina Kowalkiewicz at UFC 238. Aldana is a former Invicta FC title-challenger and is currently 3-2 in the Octagon.

Irene Aldana’s Style:

With the moniker “Robles” – the surname of the boxing coach Manny Robles – Aldana is primarily a boxer. The 31-year-old has finished half of her victories by knockout, but has yet to get a (T)KO finish so far in the UFC. Even though her strengths lie within her hands, she also has slick submissions, which were shown in her most recent outing against Bethe Correia. She has finished 30-percent of her wins via submission.

Striking:

There is no secret that being on the feet is Aldana’s bread and butter. Aldana’s main weapons are her hands. The Mexican has solid power in her hands and has nice strike variety. She can either use her jab to control range or blitz forward with a flurry that can catch her opponents off guard. Aldana moves her head off the center line and uses consistent lateral movement. Her output is great, as she throws over six significant strikes per minute. Alongside her boxing, she has decent inside leg kicks which can disrupt her foes’ rhythm. A weakness is that she will brawl with her opposition and can get pressured if she doesn’t gain her opponent’s respect quickly.

Grappling:

The best part of Irene Aldana’s grappling game is her outstanding takedown defense. Aldana has defended 23 of 24 takedown attempts she has faced in the UFC. She has the highest takedown defense percentage (95-percent) among any UFC fighter with more than five fights and more than 20 takedowns faced. She digs underhooks in the clinch and shows overall solid awareness in defensive situations. Aldana has also shown effective clinch striking with her knees in the past. The ground is the weakest part of her game, but she still has skills there. She is an opportunistic submission hunter – which paid off in her last fight against Bethe Correia. Due to her great takedown defense, her opponents almost have to play into Aldana’s strengths, which are on the feet.

Irene Aldana vs. Raquel Pennington – Prediction:

In a bantamweight contender matchup, I expect Irene Aldana to defeat Raquel Pennington. Aldana is way more active on the feet, and just provides more offense standing. Pennington will have the advantage on the ground, but Aldana won’t allow her to get it there. I think Aldana will just land more striking and even hurt Pennington at times. But, Pennington’s toughness will allow her to reach the scorecards. Despite Pennington being slightly younger than Aldana, I think Pennington is declining.

Official Prediction: Irene Aldana def. Raquel Pennington via Unanimous Decision

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