Former UFC champion Henry Cejudo says the promotion is getting its fourth Mexican champion when Irene Aldana defeats Amanda Nunes. This year, Brandon Moreno, the first Mexican-born UFC champion, closed the Deiveison Figueiredo chapter of his career with a third-round TKO at UFC 283 in January. Yair Rodríguez joined him after submitting Josh Emmett and winning the interim featherweight UFC championship at UFC 284 in February. And Alexa Grasso followed her compatriots with an upset of Valentina Shevchenko via fourth-round finish at UFC 285 in March.
Hoping to join the Mexican trio is Aldana, who faces one of the greatest fighters of all time in Nunes. Fresh off two finishes of Yana Santos (née Kunitskaya) and Macy Chiasson, the Lobo Gym product thought she had done enough to earn her first championship opportunity against the two-division UFC champion. At first, the promotion went in a different direction, deciding to pursue a third fight with Nunes and Julianna Peña. Then, the ‘Venezuelan Vixen’ got injured, and ‘Robles’ was tapped as the replacement.
Henry Cejudo predicts an upset win for Irene Aldana at UFC 289
Now that her opportunity is here, Cejudo sees Irene Aldana upsetting Amanda Nunes at UFC 289 on Saturday.
“This fight could be up for grabs, but I’m going to go with none other than the Mexican,” said Cejudo on his official YouTube channel. “There’s something about that fight that I just feel the simple fact that if Amanda Nunes cannot take down Irene Aldana, that Mexican training with Brandon [Moreno], Alexa Grasso, Yair Rodríguez, all these Mexicans with belts, it just lets you know that train is not stopping.
“I do feel like sometimes, I’ve seen a little bit of slowdown from Amanda Nunes,” continued Cejudo. “I just don’t see a lot of the kicking — if Amanda Nunes is able to get the grappling, I can see her maybe getting that victory. But, man, I can see Irene Aldana actually knocking her out. I really can.”
Watch out for Irene Aldana‘s striking
The way Henry Cejudo sees it, Irene Aldana is poised to pull off an upset similar to Alexa Grasso. To ‘Triple C,’ the Lobo Gym teammates are heavy-handed and have tons of confidence, which are keys to victory.
“If Amanda Nunes doesn’t bring that tactical sense and experience, either she kicks her or takes her down, she’s going to be in trouble with this Mexican,” said Cejudo. “I’ll tell you what, she’s super, super confident. It reminds me a lot of the fight when Alexa was getting ready for Valentina. How she says, ‘I will get my hand raised.’ Same kind of game, same type of energy.
“The most important thing in this is confidence,” continued Cejudo. “So, for that reason, Brazil, you guys don’t hate me, don’t kill me. If I had to place my money, and I like them both, there’s no hard feelings for either one of them. I’m going to have to go with Irene Aldana on this one.”
Irene Aldana motivated by Alexa Grasso‘s recent win
Heading into her upcoming fight, Irene Aldana said she was motivated by Alexa Grasso, one of her friends and teammates. If she can upset one of the GOATs, so can Aldana, and she expects to do so when she faces the ‘Lioness’ on Saturday.
“When she got to Guadalajara after her fight with Valentina, she went to my home and showed me her belt. The first thing she said was, ‘You’re next,'” said Aldana at UFC 289 media day (video provided by MMA Junkie). “I was like, ‘No, this is your time! Congratulations!’ [She said], ‘You’re next.’ It was great to see her like that and we have been looking back all this time. It has been a long journey and it is nice that we have shared this together, we have lived this together almost, at the same time.”
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