Irene Aldana believes she’s closer than ever to UFC gold.
The UFC women’s bantamweight contender believes a good performance in her return to the cage at Saturday’s UFC 279 in Las Vegas could land her a title shot against champion Amanda Nunes. Aldana (13-6 MMA, 6-4 UFC) returns from a 14-month layoff to face Macy Chiasson (8-2 MMA, 6-2 UFC) in a catchweight bout on the main card of the pay-per-view event .
Aldana hopes to make a strong showing and prove she’s next up in line for a title shot.
“I think that with a convincing and dominant win, I think I’m in a position to raise my hand and ask for the title fight if the UFC thinks I deserve it,” Aldana told MMA Junkie in Spanish. “I feel ready for the opportunity, and we’ll see what happens.
“Macy Chiasson is a tough fighter. She’s down in the rankings and many have asked why I’m fighting No. 11 and that I should be fighting a top five, but the UFC did the best they could to get me a top five, and they weren’t able to. Macy Chiasson was the one that took the fight. She’s a tough fighter and has been on many’s sight as a contender at 135 and 145.”
Nunes, who holds titles in the women’s featherweight and bantamweight divisions, has been dominant for many years now. She’s only lost once in the past seven years, which was against Julianna Peña last December at UFC 269. It was a giant upset, but she was able to settle the score this summer by dominating Peña in a unanimous decision at UFC 277.
Given the nature of the rematch, Aldana doesn’t expect an immediate trilogy bout, opening her opportunities to be the next challenger for Nunes.
“I thought that if Amanda Nunes won then it would go to a trilogy, but from the comments from Dana White and other’s that I’ve seen from the promotion and outside the promotion, I think the fact that Amanda looked so dominant, I don ‘t think that the UFC is interested in an immediate trilogy, which is good for me,” Aldana said. “That opens the doors for me to be the next title challenger, without belittling Julianna’s work. If the trilogy doesn’t happen, I’d love to raise my hand and say, ‘I’m next.’”
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As far as Nunes’ return to the cage, some Married if father time had caught up to her, entering the rematch with Peña. Aldana is glad that Nunes looked dominant in her comeback, as she wants to test herself against the greatest of all time.
“The Amanda that I expected returned,” Aldana said. “I knew that Amanda would return very strong, and the same, if not better, version of Amanda. And well, she didn’t fall short, and it was exactly what we saw.
“Julianna Peña gave a great fight, but as you said, Amanda Nunes dominated on this occasion. And I like it. I like that she returned and looked the way she did, because if I get the chance to fight her, I’m going to catch Amanda in her best version and that’s what I want. I want those kinds of challenges.”
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Story originally appeared on MMA Junkie