UFC Fight Night Report: Holly Holm dominates Irene Aldana
By: Eric Marcotte
On Saturday night the UFC held its second consecutive event at the Flash Forum on Yas Island, Abu Dhabi. The card was headlined by a bout between ranked bantamweight contenders Holly Holm and Irene Aldana. Since beating Ronda Rousey for the Women’s Bantamweight Championship in 2015, Holly Holm has compiled a record of 3-5, and this fight marked a chance to rack up consecutive wins for the first time since 2015. Aldana on the other hand had won 5 of her last 6 bouts and was coming off a highlight-reel knockout of Ketlen Vieira. A win against an established name such as Holm would likely put her next in line for a shot at Amanda Nunes. In another fight between women’s bantamweight contenders, Julianna Pena met the former UFC Women’s Featherweight Champion, Germaine de Randamie.
Brendan Fitzgerald provided commentary for this card alongside Dan Hardy and Paul Felder. Performance bonuses were awarded to Germaine De Randamie, Kyler Phillips, Dusko Todorovic, and Luigi Vendramini.
*Luigi Vendramini def. Jessin Ayari by TKO at 1:12 of Round 1
*Casey Kenney def. Alatengheili by unanimous decision (30-25, 30-26, 30-27)
*Loma Lookboonmee def. Jinh Yu Frey by unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 29-28)
*Nassourdine Imavov def. Jordan Williams by unanimous decision (29-27, 29-27, 29-28)
*Charles Jourdain vs. Joshua Culibao ended in a split draw (30-27, 28-29, 28-28)
*Carlos Condit def. Court McGee by unanimous decision (30-27 all)
*Dusko Todorovic def. Dequan Townsend by TKO at 3:15 of Round 2
*Kyler Phillips def. Cameron Else by TKO at 0:44 of Round 2
*Germaine De Randamie def. Julianna Pena by guillotine at 3:25 of Round 3
*Carlos Felipe def. Yorgan De Castro by unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 29-28)
*Holly Holm def. Irene Aldana by unanimous decision (50-44, 50-45, 50-45)
JESSIN AYARI (16-5, 156) VS LUIGI VENDRAMINI (8-1, 156) – LIGHTWEIGHT
Early in the first round, they engaged in the pocket, and Vendramini rocked Ayari with a counter left hook. Vendramini swarmed Ayari with strikes against the cage and dropped him with a head kick. Vendramini followed him to the ground and ended the fight with a series of hammer fists.
WINNER: Luigi Vendramini by TKO at 1:12 of Round 1
After a two-year layoff, Vendramini’s return fight could not have gone much better for him. He hurt Ayari with his first clean shot and gave him no time to recover. With this win, Vendramini improved to 1-1 in the UFC.
CASEY KENNEY (14-2-1, 136) VS ALATENGHEILI (14-7-1, 136) – BANTAMWEIGHT
Kenney opened up the fight with several kicks to the body. As Alatengheli began to guard his body, Kenney began to attack the head as well, landing strong hooks. Kenney partially connected on a kick to the side of the head, and it cut Alatengheili open on his ear. Kenney was beating Alatengheili down throughout this round, and he ended the round with another huge kick to the body. 10-8 Kenney.
Kenney continued to light Alatengheili up with kicks to the right side of his body in the second round. Alatengheili caught Kenney with a left hand as he moved forward, and this was probably his best strike of the fight to this point. Still, as the round progressed, Alatengheili had no answer for Kenney’s body kicks, and this was a remarkably one-sided fight. I had the fight scored 20-16 for Kenney going into the final round.
The third round was more of the same. The right side of Alatengheili’s body just looked destroyed. He wasn’t able to get anything going offensively in this round, but he made it to the end of the round, and in my mind, avoided a third 10-8. I scored the fight 30-25 Kenney.
WINNER: Casey Kenney by unanimous decision (30-25, 30-26, 30-27)
Casey Kenney absolutely dominated this fight, from the first minute until the last. Alatengheili showed off incredible durability, but he had no answer for Kenney’s body kicks. I cannot imagine what Alatengheili’s body felt like by the end of this fight. Kenney expressed his desire to fight again next week in his post-fight interview. He is now 4-1 in the UFC.
JINH YU FREY (9-5, 116) VS LOMA LOOKBOONMEE (4-2, 116) – STRAWWEIGHT
Lookboonmee defended an early takedown attempt from Frey, but Frey landed a solid elbow on the break. They re-entered the clinch later in the round, and Lookboonmee began to land some short elbows of her own. Lookboonmee connected with a series of knees and elbows from the Thai clinch that cut Frey open. 10-9 Lookboonmee.
Lookboonmee continued to control the fight in the clinch to begin the second round. Frey was never in danger of being finished, but she just didn’t seem to have many answers for Lookboonmee’s striking. When they engaged in the clinch, Lookboonmee lit her up, and when they were separated, Lookboonmee continued to control the striking exchanges. 20-18 Lookboonmee.
Frey opened the third round with a single leg takedown. She moved into side control, but Lookboonmee scrambled back to her feet. Lookboonmee landed a head kick late in the round. She defended a takedown from Frey in the final minute, and I scored the fight 30-27 in her favor.
WINNER: Loma Lookboonmee by unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 29-28)
Aside from Frey’s takedown in the third, Lookboonmee more or less controlled the entirety of this fight. She looked good, as she has in her prior UFC outings. Frey’s game plan appeared to rely heavily on the clinch, and when she began to lose those exchanges, she seemed hesitant to commit to her offense. Lookboonmee is now 2-1 in the UFC
JORDAN WILLIAMS (9-3, 1 NC, 182) VS NASSOURDINE IMAVOV (8-2, 185.5) – MIDDLEWEIGHT
Imavov stumbled after an unintentional clash of heads and took Williams down. They quickly returned to their feet, and both men were cut open from the headbutt. They continued to exchange heavy right hands in the pocket until Williams was grounded by a knee that landed low. When the action resumed, Williams landed a big left hand that forced Imavov to shoot for a takedown. He defended Imavov’s takedown attempt and searched for one of his own. Imavov defended Williams takedown with a tight guillotine attempt, but Williams fought out of it to end the round.
Imavov had a lot of success in the opening minute of the second round with his counter striking. Williams caught Imavov with a solid left hand, and Imavov shot for a takedown. Williams stuffed the attempt, but Imavov hit him with a big left elbow and a right hook on the cage. Williams was hurt and tired, and he shot for another takedown. Once again, Imavov countered with a guillotine attempt, which Williams fought out of. Imavov ended the round on top, landing strong ground and pound strikes.
Williams looked very tired at the start of the third round and immediately ran into some more counter hooks from Imavov. Imavov landed a combination to the body, and Williams drove him back to the fence. Both fighters acknowledged a headbutt and began to walk back to their corners, but referee Kevin Sataki urged them to fight on. They were separated from the cage with a minute left in the round, and Imavov ended the round strongly, landing solid shots to Williams against the cage. I scored the fight 29-28 Imavov.
WINNER: Nassourdine Imavov by unanimous decision (29-27, 29-27, 29-28)
This was a very hard-fought contest, and despite two significant headbutts, two tight submission attempts, and a great deal of blood spilled, this one went the distance. Imavov looked good on the feet here, and Williams showed a lot of heart despite being gassed by the second round. This was Imavov’s UFC debut, and he has now won his last six fights.
CHARLES JOURDAIN (10-3, 145) VS JOSHUA CULIBAO (8-1, 145.5) – FEATHERWEIGHT
Culibao tried to bring the fight to the ground early, but Jourdain fought off the takedown attempt. Jourdain stumbled Culibao with a hard leg kick but was dropped hard by a right hand. Culibao immediately jumped in to finish the fight with a guillotine but was unsuccessful. Jourdain was bleeding heavily from his nose and it appeared as though it was badly broken. Jourdain almost locked in a choke of his own as Culibao shot for a takedown, but Culibao escaped from the submission attempt and ended the round on top.
Culibao connected with a clean 1-2 in the opening minute of the second round. Jourdain was looking for big kicks and flying knees but wasn’t coming too close with them. Both fighters landed kicks to the body throughout the round. Jourdain connected with an overhand left towards the end of the round. Culibao attempted a takedown late in the round that Jourdain stuffed. This was a very close round, but I had it even going into the third.
Culibao started the third round with another takedown attempt that Jourdain defended. Jourdain caught him with a shot on the break that sent him stumbling backward, and they traded shots on the opposite side of the cage. Culibao attempted to change levels after Jourdain landed a hard leg kick, but Jourdain stuffed the attempt. Jourdain began to rack up the control time from top position on the ground and landed a series of elbows with his legs wrapped around Culibao’s neck. Culibao escaped to his feet with thirty seconds remaining in the round, and the fight went the distance. I scored this one 29-28 for Jourdain.
Result: Split Draw (30-27, 28-29, 28-28)
These were some strange scorecards. I can’t fathom giving the first round to Jourdain, and I also didn’t see a 10-8 round anywhere. Possibly the last round for Jourdain? Regardless, this was a very fun fight, where both fighters gave a good account of themselves. Culibao was a sizeable underdog in this fight but vastly outperformed those expectations. With this draw, Culibao’s UFC record is 0-1-1, and Jourdain’s record is now 1-2-1.
CARLOS CONDIT (30-13, 171) VS COURT McGEE (19-9, 170.5) – WELTERWEIGHT
Condit was throwing a high volume of kicks to the body in the first round, and McGee responded with some leg kicks. As the round progressed McGee continued to tee off on Condit’s legs, and mixed in some hooks when Condit closed the distance. Condit began to let loose with his offense a bit more towards the end of the round and dropped McGee with a right hook as time expired. I thought the last second knockdown earned Condit the round.
McGee’s nose looked destroyed from that late knockdown. Condit continued to attack it, and McGee was bleeding heavily from it. McGee went back to his leg kicks late in the round. Condit connected with a head kick and several left crosses throughout the round. McGee landed the occasional counter hook as Condit moved forwards, and numerous leg kicks throughout the round, but by and large, Condit looked in control, and relatively unbothered by McGee’s offense. 20-18 Condit going into the third.
Condit caught a kick from McGee early in the third and kicked him in his other leg to send him to the ground. He tagged McGee a couple of times as he picked himself back up. McGee landed a right hook as Condit connected with a lead elbow. McGee landed a couple more big right hands in this round, but Condit just ate them in classic Condit fashion. He continued to mix up his kicks between the head and the body, and I thought he won this round and the fight.
WINNER: Carlos Condit by unanimous decision (30-27 all)
Condit has had a rough few years, so it was nice to see him get back on track with a comfortable win here. This wasn’t the type of fight that will propel Condit back to ranked competition, but at this point, he just needed a win, and he got that here. He is now 3-7 throughout his last ten fights. McGee has also gone 3-7 throughout his last ten fights, and without the name value of a fighter like Condit, I wouldn’t be shocked if this was McGee’s last outing in the octagon.
DEQUAN TOWNSEND (21-11, 186) VS DUSKO TODOROVIC (9-0, 186) – MIDDLEWEIGHT
Todorovic was the more aggressive fighter early, pressing Townsend against the cage and going to work. The next time he rushed in, Townsend punished him with a combination with his back against the cage. Todorovic began to tee off on Townsend against the cage, and Townsend was clearly rocked, but he survived the flurry. It was remarkable how many shots he took here, but he made it to the end of the round.
Todorovic took Townsend down with a double leg a couple of minutes into the second round and quickly moved into half guard. He transitioned to full mount and began to pour down the ground and pound strikes. Townsend was unable to escape the position, and referee Jason Herzog was forced to stop the fight.
WINNER: Dusko Todorovic by TKO at 3:15 of Round 2
Todorovic looked fantastic here. He overwhelmed Townsend on the feet and finished the fight on the ground. He’s been out of action since his win on the contender’s series last year, and I think this performance will create a bit of buzz surrounding his next fight.
KYLER PHILLIPS (7-1, 136) VS CAMERON ELSE (10-4, 136) – BANTAMWEIGHT
Else blocked a spinning head kick attempt from Phillips, and Phillips proceeded to jump right over him with a flying knee attempt. Phillips got Else to the ground with a double leg, and eventually worked his way into side control. He took his back with about a minute remaining in the round, and while he didn’t find the choke, he spent the remainder of the round landing numerous ground and pound strikes to end the round strongly.
Phillips quickly took Else back to the ground with a body lock, and he proceeded to land elbows until the fight was stopped.
WINNER: Kyler Phillips by TKO at 0:44 of Round 2
Phillips dominated this fight on the ground, and Else had no answer for Phillips’s ground and pound attack. He made it look relatively easy, and is now 2-0 in the UFC. He has looked great throughout both of his fights, and he is a legitimate prospect at 135lbs. In his post-fight interview, he expressed his interest in fighting on “fight island” one more time before the UFC returns to the United States.
GERMAINE DE RANDAMIE (9-4, 136) VS JULIANNA PENA (9-3, 135.5) – BANTAMWEIGHT
De Randamie dropped Pena with a short right hand, but Pena recovered quickly. Pena was hesitant to close the distance, as De Randamie was landing her jab whenever Pena moved forwards. De Randamie caught Pena with an overhand right but was taken down with a second left in the round. 10-9 De Randamie.
They exchanged hands against the cage to begin the second round. Pena was able to close the distance from here, and she brought De Randamie to the ground with a double leg. From De Randamie’s guard, she was able to land several hammer fists and elbows and transitioned to half guard. From here she attempted a choke, and De Randamie rolled on top, while still in Pena’s choke. De Randamie was looking to finish the fight with a Von Flue choke from the top, but time expired before she could lock it in. I had it 19-19 going into the final round.
Pena charged forward to begin the third round and landed a few short-left hooks as De Randamie moved backward. Some of Pena’s strikes were way off, and De Randamie countered her with hooks and uppercuts as you would expect. Pena shot for a takedown against the cage late in the round, and De Randamie countered with a guillotine. De Randamie choked her unconscious and picked up a huge submission win.
WINNER: Germaine De Randamie by guillotine at 3:25 of Round 3
I don’t know if anybody picked Germaine De Randamie to win this fight by submission, but this was a remarkable finish for the former kickboxer. Germaine De Randamie has won 7 of her 9 fights in the UFC, with her only two losses coming to Amanda Nunes. This puts her in a bit of a difficult position, as Nunes is the champion of both of the divisions that De Randamie has been active in. Nonetheless, if she continues to beat top contenders, I imagine she will find herself fighting for the title again eventually.
YORGAN DE CASTRO (6-1, 261) VS CARLOS FELIPE (8-1, 263) – HEAVYWEIGHT
Neither man was particularly busy throughout the first half of the round, but both fighters landed some leg kicks. As the round progressed… they continued to exchange leg kicks. Felipe landed a few shots to the body. De Castro’s low kicks appeared to do a bit more damage. 10-9 Felipe.
They picked it up to begin the second round, with Felipe getting the better of their striking exchange, backing De Castro up against the cage. They separated and continued trade heavy hooks in the middle of the cage. Felipe continued to attack the body, and they engaged in the clinch against the cage. They were soon separated because De Castro continuously put his fingers in the cage. Felipe continued to attack the body, and he was just the busier fighter. 20-18 Felipe.
Felipe teed off on De Castro against the cage to begin the third round. They were separated seven times throughout the round for inactivity. Still, De Castro seemed content to press Felipe against the cage. This was one of the worst rounds in MMA history. I scored the fight 29-28 for Carlos Felipe.
WINNER: Carlos Felipe by unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 29-28)
They were separated at least nine times throughout this brutal fight. By the time this fight ended, it was 12:30 ET, and I think everybody was ready to move on to the main event. Honestly, I think the referee (Kevin Sataki) got way too involved in the final round of this fight, but the fight was also so bad that I can’t pretend to feel strongly about it. Felipe called out Raphael Pessoa in his post-fight interview and improved to 1-1 in the UFC with this win.
HOLLY HOLM (13-5, 136) VS IRENE ALDANA (12-5, 136) – BANTAMWEIGHT
Holm was striking in combination early and was easily getting the better of their early boxing exchanges. Both fighters landed leg kicks. Holm circled throughout the round and kept Aldana from getting comfortable enough to respond with combinations of her own. Aldana defended a late takedown attempt from Holly Holm, but Holm managed to get her down in the final seconds of the round. 10-9 Holm.
Aldana landed a strong right hand, and Holm responded with a kick to the body. Holm caught Aldana with a counter left hand that wobbled her a bit. Holm continued to look comfortable on the feet, and box Aldana up throughout the round. Holm took Aldana down with two minutes remaining in the round and began to work from half guard. Aldana got back to her feet, but Holm continued to control the action on the feet. 20-18 Holm.
Aldana was having a lot of trouble cutting off the cage as Holm circled, which allowed Holm to continue fighting her fight and avoid Aldana’s hands. Holm took Aldana to the ground with another body lock, just as Aldana was starting to find her range a bit. Holm was looking for a kimura from side control, but couldn’t find it, and transitioned to top mount. She began to rain down hammerfists, but Aldana managed to scramble out and get back to her feet. 30-27 Holm.
Round four looked much like the last three. Holm continued to circle, tee off on Aldana, and occasionally changed levels, racking up another takedown. This fight was a complete blowout in favor of Holly Holm. 40-36 Holm.
Aldana continued to march forward but was still unable to land anything of significance. Whenever Aldana got close, Holm would stop circling and back her up with a quick counter shot. She took Aldana down once again near the end of the round. Holm ended the round with a pair of head kicks, and a flurry of strikes against the cage, as she attempted to finish the fight. I scored the fight 50-45 for Holly Holm.
WINNER: Holly Holm by unanimous decision (50-44, 50-45, 50-45)
This was a great performance for Holly Holm, who dominated every minute of this fight. Aldana seemed to have no answer for Holm’s movement, and Holm mixed in every aspect of her game perfectly to keep Aldana uncomfortable. Honestly, I think this may have been Holms’s best performance since her win over Ronda Rousey, and this was very much a must-win fight for Holm, who has lost five of her last eight fights going into this one. I think a rematch against Germaine De Randamie is probably the most sensible next matchup for her, as they are currently the two top-ranked bantamweight contenders, and there was so much controversy surrounding their first fight.