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Holm tries to keep doors open on a UFC title shot

Holly Holm, shown in 2017, memorably won the UFC bantamweight title in 2015 with a TKO over Ronda Rousey, but lost her first defense and now is seeking another title shot. (Roberto E. Rosales/Albuquerque Journal)

Tell her where, when and against whom, and she’ll be there.

As for what happens beyond the next fight, Albuquerque’s Holly Holm has always left such things to her management. It’s easier that way, a sharper focus.

Even so, she says, the consequences of a loss, as opposed to a win, are obvious. And she doesn’t run from the obvious.

“I know that with every fight, a win promises more open doors and a loss shuts them,” Holm (13-5) said in a phone interview from Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates, where she’s scheduled to face Mexico’s Irene Aldana (12-5). The five-round bantamweight fight is the main event of a UFC Fight Night card, to be contested Saturday night in the U.S. but early Sunday morning local time.

“So that’s why I definitely want to do so well in this fight,” she said, “and that’s why I’m always thinking like that, because I know that without doing something now, you’re not promised many opportunities if you don’t make the most of what’s in front of you.”

In this scenario, it’s not clear what immediate career opportunities Holm, should she win, will have. The Albuquerque left-hander is 3-5 since her memorable November 2015 TKO victory over Ronda Rousey. One of those five losses came in July 2019 by first-round TKO against current bantamweight champion Amanda Nunes.

It is Aldana, should she win, who has the clearer path to a title shot. UFC President Dana White has said as much. Aldana qualifies as a fresh face in the bantamweight title picture, thanks to her upset victory, achieved in spectacular fashion (first-round knockout) last December, over previously unbeaten Ketlen Vieira. Aldana has never faced Nunes.

But however many fights it takes, Holm remains focused on regaining the bantamweight title she won from Rousey – only to lose it to Miesha Tate in her first defense.

Holm will turn 39 on Oct. 17. She’s been fighting professionally – kickboxing, boxing, MMA – since 2002.

She has no plans to walk away, unless …

“I want to retire with the title,” she said. “I’m truly a big believer in the fact that, if you’re not trying for a title, what are you fighting for?

“… That’s the difference between somebody who just wants a participation ribbon (or) a gold medal. I’m always going for the gold.”

As of Friday, Holm was an ever-so-slight betting favorite.

CONDIT-MCGEE: That hoary cliché, “must-win fight,” kept coming up in interviews. The line of questioning was predictable, given that Albuquerque welterweight Carlos Condit has lost his last five fights.

But Condit fended off those question adroitly, as he hopes to do with the fists, elbows, knees and feet of Court McGee on Saturday.

“I think it’s must-win,” said, “in the sense that if I lose it’s gonna hurt really bad and suck. But I’m not really attached to, ‘Oh, this is a doomsday scenario for my career.’ I think that’s too much pressure on things that I can’t control.”

Then, Condit counterpunched. Must win? It’s more like just win, and those concerns will take care of themselves.

“I prepared thoroughly and rigorously for the fight,” he said, “and I think I’ve got my head straight, and those are the things that I’m in control of. I know that if I go out there and compete to the best of my ability, I’ll walk away with the win in this one.”

Condit (30-13) and McGee (19-9), of Orem, Utah, are meeting in the featured fight of the prelim portion of Saturday’s card in Abu Dhabi.

McGee, who has lost four of his last five, has also had to deal with a must-win question. His response was similar to Condit’s: victory on Saturday is the answer.

Neither fighter, Condit said, will have to chase the other in that pursuit.

And that’s how he likes it.

“I’m excited about the matchup, for sure,” he said. “Court brings it every single time. He’s well rounded, comes from a great camp, has got a great skill set.

“I think we’re gonna put on a hell of a fight.”

McGee was a slight betting favorite as of Friday.

KEALOHI WINS: In Park City, Kansas, Albuquerque-based flyweight Rodney Kealohi defeated Mefi Monterroso by second-round TKO ( knee to body, punches on ground) Friday on an LFA card.

Kealohi (5-1) is a teammate of Holm and Condit at Jackson-Wink MMA.

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