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UFC Fight Night 124 winner Irene Aldana grateful UFC career started with back-to-back losses

ST. LOUIS – In the win column for the first time in her UFC career, Irene Aldana is actually grateful her octagon tenure began with two consecutive losses.

Aldana (8-4 MMA, 1-2 UFC) finally got in the win column Sunday when she defeated Talita Bernardo (5-3 MMA, 0-2 UFC) by unanimous decision in their women’s bantamweight bout at UFC Fight Night 124, which took place at Scottrade Center in St. Louis and aired on FS1 following early prelims on UFC Fight Pass.

The Mexican fighter admits her career trajectory went upward much faster than she thought it would, and that was the reason for some of the hiccups along the way. She fought Tonya Evinger for the Invicta FC title in just her seventh professional fight, and in her 10th contest faced Leslie Smith in her UFC debut.

Aldana is appreciative of all her opportunities, and instead of dreading the negative results, she said she chooses to reflect on the positive side of her experiences.

“It was difficult,” Aldana told MMAjunkie. “Obviously everybody wants to win the fight, but I understand this is a sport. There are winners and there are losers. I accept my losses as I accept my wins. I fought two very (experienced) fighters and my career went very fast. I had three fights in Mexico and then I was brought in international for belts in Invicta, now UFC. It happened very quickly and I didn’t fought as experienced fighters as I did when I came here. That made me grow as a fighter.

“I’m glad it happened,” she continued. “It made me a better fighter. Honestly, I think my second fight I won against Kaitlyn Chookagian, but it was a very close fight, and I’m glad I can stay here. I’m not going anywhere.”

Although the fight against Bernardo was largely one-sided, with Aldana winning 30-27 on all scorecards, she faced a resilient opponent at UFC Fight Night 124. Aldana appeared to come close to putting Bernardo away more than once during the 15-minute affair, but she couldn’t get the job done.

Instead of criticizing her own performance and inability to get a finish, though, Aldana praised her opponent’s durability.

“I would have loved to get a knockout or submission, but things went that way,” Aldana said. “She was tougher than I thought. She came out very prepared; she was the strongest. I’m glad I won, and I did my best. This fight prepared me for what’s next. Maybe next time I will get in the cage more confident and more prepared.”

Aldana said the difference in her performance compared to her previous UFC fights was a boost in offensive volume. She said she didn’t let everything hang out in the past, but this time, she did.

“I worked on being more aggressive,” Aldana said. “I came mentally stronger. The first fight in my debut I was really, really nervous. I wasn’t thinking very good. I tried to make this fight more intelligent. I took my time, and I’m happy.”

As far as the future goes, Aldana already has a new opponent in mind. She said she’s injury-free from her fight with Bernardo and would like to match up with Bethe Correia (10-3-1 MMA, 3-3-1 UFC), who she was originally scheduled to fight at the event.

“I was supposed to fight Bethe Correia on this card,” Aldana said. “She was injured and couldn’t take the fight, so Talita took her place. Maybe she’s next; I don’t know. She’s a great opponent, a great fighter. I would like to fight her. If she’s not, maybe Marion Reneau. I was supposed to fight Marion Reneau in Invicta. Maybe one of those. I would love to keep climbing to the top 10.”

For complete coverage of UFC Fight Night 124, check out the UFC Events section of the site.

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