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Holly Holm open to anything after UFC on ESPN 16: ‘The 135-pound division’s always pretty stacked’

ABU DHABI – Holly Holm is keeping her options open after a one-sided victory over Irene Aldana on Saturday in the UFC on ESPN 16 main event.

Holm (14-5 MMA, 7-5 UFC) put a clinic on Aldana (12-6 MMA, 5-4 UFC), dominating all five rounds for a unanimous decision in the women’s bantamweight headliner at Flash Forum at Yas Island in Abu Dhabi. The win put her on a two-fight winning streak, which is her first run of consecutive victories since starting her career unbeaten through 10 fights.

Given her name value and status in the sport, Holm is always in the conversation to be fighting for a title. She turned back a highly touted rising contender in Aldana, and while it could be argued it’s enough right now for another one, Holm said she’s not going to get her hopes up for anything in particular.

“I’m going to keep working hard,” Holm told reporters, including MMA Junkie, post-fight at UFC on ESPN 16. “That’s what I’m going to do. I know (dual champion Amanda Nunes has) got a lot doing on right now, with another fight already scheduled. There’s some tough girls coming up. I feel like the 135-pound division’s always pretty stacked, so I’m not going to set my sights on something too hard. I’m going to let the opportunity come and the next fight after the next fight. And whatever that may be, I’m going to put my heart and soul into it and do it again.”

If Holm doesn’t get a title opportunity with Nunes, another option that could make sense is a rematch with Germaine de Randamie, who picked up a submission of Julianna Pena at UFC on ESPN 16. The two fought to a controversial decision at UFC 208 in February 2017, which de Randamie won to claim the inaugural women’s featherweight title. Nearly four years later, Holm wouldn’t be opposed to running it back.

“That’s definitely an option,” Holm said. “I think everybody probably thought her and I might meet up again in there, so we’ll see what happens. We’ll see where it goes from here.”

Holm has received criticism in some of her recent fights for a lack of action and aggression. That wasn’t the case Saturday. She left it all on the table over the course of five rounds. The reviews call it one of the best performances of Holm’s career, and while she’s pleased to have put it together more than she had in a lot of other bouts, she said it wasn’t wholly satisfying.

“It felt good to just go in there and get a dominating performance and not something that’s just too close,” Holm said. “There’s fights I’ve had that are brawls and some are in the clinch, and I’m like trying to put it all together and be a well rounded fighter. I felt I was able to do a lot of that tonight, but yes, I always want to do more.

“I think just coming over here, it’s just a lot of sacrifice from my team and I just wanted to get in there and I didn’t want to let the time pass me by without making the most out of it. Get out there and get it done. We came this far for 25 minutes, I better at least do something for 25 minutes.”

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