13 May - 
Irene Aldana believes title shot might not be far, would take Pennington, Reneau in meantime

RIO DE JANEIRO – Conditions weren’t optimal for Irene Aldana going into the cage against Bethe Correia at UFC 237, but that didn’t stop her from walking away with a significant win.

And she even got to erase the bad taste of a previous Brazilian experience in the process.

Aldana met Correia in the pay-per-view main card of Saturday’s event at Jeunesse Arena, after a fight cancellation bumped them up from their original slot on the preliminary card. Correia put on a valid effort, but was down on all three judges’ scorecards heading into the third round. Then, at the 3:34 mark of the final frame, an Aldana armbar ended it.

It was by no means the way that Aldana (10-4 MMA, 3-2 UFC) expected to get her hand raised against Correia  (10-3-1 MMA, 4-3-1 UFC). But, hey, she’ll take it.

“I just told my coaches that I visualized 10,000 ways to knock her out, but never one submission,” Aldana told reporters, including MMA Junkie. “So, it was surprising for me, and I’m glad I did it. I’m glad that I showed that I’m a more complete athlete now, and I can bring more ways to finish the fight to the table.”

Aldana had praise for her opponent, who she saw as tough, technical and just overall good. But though those things may have factored into why she wasn’t able to get the knockout that she wanted, there was another factor at play on Saturday: Correia’s weight.

The day before the match, which was set to happen in the 135-pound division, Correia stepped on the scale at a 141 pounds. Aldana says she never considered pulling out and got to keep 30 percent of Correia’s purse, but she was still understandably displeased with the situation.

“We talked with my coaches and said, ‘OK, we are here to fight. We just traveled a lot to fight,’” Aldana said. “So, it’s my job, and I make sparring with guys that weigh 80 kilos, so I thought, ‘Well, it’s going to be another sparring in the gym.’ This is my job, and I didn’t think a minute about not taking the fight.

“I don’t think that was fair and maybe a little (disrespectful) from her. She didn’t say why she missed weight. It wasn’t a medical issue or anything. She just didn’t make weight. But I’m glad to show that, even with that against me, we could take the fight.”

As a bonus, Aldana got to put an end to a somewhat dragged-out chapter of her fighting life, after preparing for two previous fights with Correia that ultimately fell through. She was also able to redeem herself on Brazilian soil, after a losing Jungle Fight effort against Larissa Pacheco left her with some bad memories back in 2013.

“I wasn’t familiar with the Brazilian people,” Aldana said. “It was hard to hear the screams of the fans against me. It was a hard experience, but I mentalized that this time was going to be different.”

Now riding a three-fight winning streak, Aldana believes the bantamweight title might not be that far. Although it will depend on the UFC and on how well she does on her next fights, she believes it could be “maybe two or three more fights” away.

And in the meantime?

“I think anyone in the top-5 of the division,” Aldana said. “I would love to fight Raquel Pennington because I think that would be an interesting fight – or maybe Marion Reneau. I know top-5 is full of big challenges, full of stronger women, so I’m excited for that. I need to get back to the gym right now and start training for that.”

To hear more from Aldana, check out the video above.

And for complete coverage of UFC 237, check out the UFC Events section of the site.