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Holm’s opponent has virus, fight is postponed

Holly Holm kicks Raquel Pennington during a UFC 246 women’s bantamweight mixed martial arts bout Saturday, Jan. 18, 2020, in Las Vegas, Nevada. Holm’s fight scheduled for Aug. 1 has been postponed. (AP Photo/John Locher)

Mexico’s Irene Aldana has tested positive for COVID-19, and that’s a negative for Holly Holm.

Aldana, who was scheduled to face the Albuquerque MMA fighter on a UFC card in Las Vegas, Nevada, on Aug. 1, posted Wednesday on Instagram that she has the virus.

Lenny Fresquez, Holm’s longtime Albuquerque promoter, said he has been told the fight will be rescheduled for Oct. 3. It’s not clear where the Oct. 3 card will be staged, depending on COVID-19 developments.

There was no immediate response from Holm.

On Instagram, Aldana (12-5) wrote that she’s recovering well.

“In spite of having (training camp) in total isolation and (having taken) the health measures recommended by the authorities,” she wrote, “unfortunately I had some symptoms and the test was positive.

“… My enthusiasm and preparation is and will be total.”

In June, when the Holm-Aldana match was announced, Fresquez said a win over Aldana likely would put his fighter within one more fight of another shot at Amanda Nunes’ bantamweight title.

The picture, however, has become murky.

As Fresquez saw it at the time, Holm – should she defeat Aldana – would then have faced the winner of a fight between Aspen Ladd and Sara McMann. Should Holm (13-5) beat Aldana and should Ladd beat McMann, the two winners likely would meet with the Holm-Ladd winner advancing to a title fight.

Ladd, however, suffered a torn ACL and torn MCL, and now neither of the two “title elimination fights” are happening until this fall at the earliest.

In July 2019, Holm lost to Nunes by first-round TKO (head kick, punches). If the Albuquerquean is to get another shot at the champion, Fresquez said via text on Wednesday, “We need to take care of Aldana impressively.”

Holm is the No. 2 challenger for Nunes’ title belt behind the Netherlands’ Germaine de Randamie, who has not fought since her December 2019 loss to Nunes. She has no fight scheduled.

In November 2015, Holm won the UFC bantamweight title via her stunning upset of Ronda Rousey in Melbourne, Australia. She lost the title to Miesha Tate (fifth-round technical submission, rear naked choke) in her first defense.

Since then, Holm has lost twice – to de Randamie and Cristiane “Cyborg” Justino – in bids for the UFC featherweight title. Then came the loss to Nunes in her attempt to regain the bantamweight title.

A middleweight fight between Derek Brunson (20-7), Holm’s former teammate at Albuquerque’s Jackson-Wink MMA, and Edmen Shahbazyan (11-0) has been elevated to the Aug. 1 main event.

Albuquerque bantamweight Ray Borg (13-5) is scheduled to fight UFC newcomer Nathan Maness (11-2) on the Aug. 1 card at UFC Apex.

ESPINOSA: Albuquerque MMA flyweight Jordan Espinosa (15-7) will face the Czech Republic’s David Dvorak (18-3) on a UFC card scheduled for Sept. 19, according to multiple online reports.

Espinosa is coming off a June 13 victory by unanimous decision over Mark De La Rosa, snapping a two-fight losing streak.

Dvorak made his UFC debut on March 14, defeating Bruno Silva by unanimous decision.

BOXING: Finally, Albuquerque native Angelo Leo’s Aug. 1 world title fight has been confirmed by the people in charge.

On July 13, The Athletic reported that Leo (19-0, nine knockouts) was to face Philadelphia’s Stephen Fulton Jr. (18-0, eight KOs) for the vacant WBO super bantamweight title on a card to be telecast on Showtime. Both fighters confirmed the report on social media.

Neither Showtime nor either of the fighters’ promoters, though – Mayweather Promotions for Leo, Al Haymon for Fulton – had announced anything.

Finally, on Wednesday, Showtime announced a schedule of nine cards, to be staged in conjunction with Haymon’s Premier Boxing Champions at Mohegan Sun Arena in Uncasville, Connecticut, and leading off with Leo-Fulton.

Until Wednesday, there’d been conflicting reports about whether the Leo-Fulton card would be held at Mohegan Sun or in Las Vegas.

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