Yana Santos will make her first appearance in the octagon in over 20 months when she takes fellow women’s bantamweight Holly Holm on Saturday in the co-main event at UFC on ESPN: Vera vs. Sandhagen.
The former Invicta FC bantamweight champ has been idle since suffering a first-round TKO loss with Irene Aldana back in July 2021, and remains pegged as the No. 6 contender in the UFC women’s bantamweight division despite having not posted a win at 135 pounds in over two years. Holm suffered a split decision loss to Ketlen Vieira in her last outing 10 months ago at UFC Vegas 55 that has temporarily taken her out of the title shot conversation, but the Preacher’s Daughter remains ranked third in the division.
Holm is perched as a strong -255 favourite on the UFC odds in Saturday night’s co-main event matchup at AT&T Center in San Antonio, Texas. Santos lags as a +185 underdog in her long-awaited return, while the odds of this fight going the distance are pegged at a short -311.
UFC Fight Night - Yana Santos v Holly Holm
Holly Holm Odds
The Preacher’s Daughter faced a crossroads in the wake of a 2-5 run that ended with her return to the 135-pound division and a failed bid for the UFC women’s bantamweight title at UFC 239. Since falling by TKO in the first round in her clash with champion Amanda Nunes, Holm has enjoyed somewhat of a resurgence while facing three of the top four current contenders in the division.
The 41-year-old outlasted second-ranked Raquel Pennington to claim a three-round unanimous decision win at UFC 246, and followed up with another unanimous nod from the judges in a five-round clash with current No. 5 Aldana at UFC Fight Island 4. In addition, the argument can be made that she deserved a better fate than the split decision loss she suffered last time out after outstriking Vieira by a wide margin, and establishing over 10 minutes of control time.
Yana Santos Odds
Santos returns to the MMA game for the first time since giving birth to her second child in April of last year. This marks the second time in her career that Santos has returned to combat sports after giving birth. After her first child was born in 2013, Santos announced her retirement from fighting and her intention to pursue a coaching career.
The 31-year-old ultimately resumed her career three years later, but the results have been mixed. “Foxy” earned the win in just two of her first six fights in her first comeback. She has won four of seven since joining the UFC, but her losses over that stretch have been epic and include first-round knockouts at the hands of Aldana and former champion Cris Cyborg.
UFC San Antonio Prediction: Holly Holm vs Yana Santos
Now sporting a 14-6 pro record, Holm’s long road from kickboxing oddity to wily MMA veteran is complete. In addition to her well documented striking ability, Holm has developed the skills and patience to wear down opponents over the long haul, and has become an increasing threat to finish things on the matter.
With Santos coming off a long layoff after childbirth for the second time in her career, she faces a big challenge to survive a full three rounds with a reinvented Holm. While Santos has previously demonstrated her ability to go the distance, with each of her past five wins coming by decision, the betting value lies in Holm earning a long overdue finish in Saturday’s co-main event.
Prediction: Holly Holm To Win by KO,TKO,DQ (+350)