The UFC kicks off its October schedule Saturday with an ESPN card that features Holly Holm and Irene Aldana in women's bantamweight action in the main event.
Holm is looking to notch back-to-back wins for the first time since 2015 when she extended her undefeated streak and took the belt from Ronda Rousey. She scored a decision win over Raquel Pennington in her last bout.
While Holm has been fighting elite competition since the day she became champion, Irene Aldana is just now breaking into the top tier of the division.
She has won five of her last six bouts going back to 2018, including a first-round knockout of Ketlen Vieira in her last appearance.
The rest of the card is light on impactful fights, but there are some recognizable names slated to make an appearance. Carlos Condit is set to close out the prelim portion of the show, while Germaine de Randamie and Julianna Pena is on the main card in more women's bantamweight action
Here's the complete card and latest odds for the evening.
Main Card (ESPN, ESPN+ at 10:30 p.m. ET)
- Holly Holm (-121) vs. Irene Aldana (+100)
- Yorgan De Castro (-265) vs. Carlos Felipe (+205)
- Germaine de Randamie (-139) vs. Julianna Pena (+115)
- Cameron Else (+342) vs. Kyler Phillips (-480)
- Dusko Todorovic (-335) vs. Dequan Townsend (+245)
Prelims (ESPN+at 7:30 p.m. ET)
- Carlos Condit (+111) vs. Court McGee (-137)
- Josh Culibao (+325) vs. Charles Jourdain (-455)
- Nassourdine Imavov (+114) vs. Jordan Williams (-141)
- Jinh Yu Frey (+120) vs. Loma Lookboonmee (-150)
- Alatengheili (+246) vs. Casey Kenney (-335)
- Jessin Ayari (-114) vs. Luigi Vendramini (-109)
Odds via DraftKings Sportsbook
Holly Holm vs. Irene Aldana
Looking only at Holly Holm's wins and losses isn't a fair way to assess her success in the UFC. Yes, she hasn't been able to put together two wins since winning the title, but it's worth noting that all of her losses have come against champions.
When it comes to Holm's fights there has been a specific flow chart. Are you a champion or former champion? If yes, you win. If no, you lose.
Aldana isn't a former champion, and she simply hasn't been on the tier of those who have beaten Holm. So even with Holm's spotty record, it's fair to say this is her biggest challenge to date.
Holm doesn't possess great knockout power outside of her head kick. She's knocked out Rousey and Bethe Correia with that strike. What she does possess is the ability to attack on the counter and a kicking game that does a good job of dictating the spacing between herself and her opponents.
That will be the dynamic that determines the outcome of this fight. Aldana is a high volume pressure fighter. She averages 6.16 significant strikes per minute and will look to push the pace.
Holm has a way of neutralizing those kinds of fighters that is equal parts frustrating and effective. If she can keep Aldana at the end of her kick then move off her spot, it's going to be a five-round cat-and-mouse game.
If Aldana had fight-altering power she would be the pick. But her knockout of Vieira was her first finish since 2016.
Prediction: Holm via decision
Yorgan De Castro vs. Carlos Felipe
The fact this heavyweight bout is the co-main event speaks poorly of the depth of this card. But that doesn't mean it isn't going to be a fun one to watch.
De Castro is far from a volume fighter. He much prefers to conserve his energy and throw a precise shot than put pressure on his opponent and overwhelm them with a barrage of punches. But when he lands those precise shots, it's usually with effectiveness.
He's been the distance just twice in his career, and the last was a unanimous-decision loss to Greg Hardy.
Across the cage from him will be a fellow heavyweight in Carlos Felipe, who is competing in his second UFC bout. In his debut for the promotion, he lost a majority decision to Sergey Spivak in which he was grappled to death by the Polar Bear.
This should give him an opportunity to showcase his developing striking much more. De Castro isn't the type of fighter to turn things into a wrestling match, and his patience could ultimately hurt him in this spot.
If Felipe can be the busier fighter and put together combinations, he could pull off the upset.
Prediction: Felipe via decision
Germaine de Randamie vs. Julianna Pena
The other high-profile women's bantamweight fight on the card actually has a similar dynamic to the main event.
Germaine de Randamie is comparable to Holm in that she's a rangy kickboxer who can control the distance and the tempo of the fight. Julianna Pena, meanwhile, is a whirling dervish of aggression and power. She'll look to score takedowns and throws punches with bad intentions.
The result could be a fight that features a lot of clinching. With Pena looking to score takedowns and De Randamie trying to stay upright, this one could feature a lot of fighting for position along the fence in a grinding fight.
If that's the case, the advantage could go to the underdog Pena. She's a big, strong fighter at 135 pounds. De Randamie's clinch striking is strong, but it isn't necessarily where she wants to be.
Pena has held her own against some strong fighters in Valentina Shevchenko, Cat Zingano and Nicco Montano, and she managed to bring all of them down at least once.
She's another underdog who could surprise.
Prediction: Pena via third-round TKO