Amanda Nunes Dominates, Bloodies Pena and Reclaims Gold

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The UFC 277 headliner saw one of the best women’s title fights we’ve ever seen. In a highly anticipated rematch, Amanda Nunes made the appropriate adjustments to batter Julianna Pena over five rounds. The judges scored the bout 50-45, 50-44 and 50-43 which saw Nunes get her hand raised and left Pena without gold.

Team Switch Brings a Change in Style

During their first bout back in December last year, Nunes appeared to believe in her power too much, didn’t respect the will and desire of Pena and gassed out. Saturday night was a whole different story. Having left ATT and committed to a new gym, Nunes seemed to hit gold, in more ways than one.

She came out and switched stances with far more regularity than we’ve ever seen her before, opting to fight southpaw for large sections of the fight. She was able to constantly sting Pena with the right hand, whether it be uppercuts or, in particular the check hook.

The power and speed discrepancies in the first round were evidently in favour of Nunes, something that we knew heading into the bout. With that being said, it was the second round that really put a stamp on the fact that Nunes was back and meant business. Three knockdowns, one of which took Pena off her feet set the tone for the remainder of the fight. Nunes was calm when she knocked Pena down, allowing her to get back to her feet rather than falling into the champion’s guard and it must be said, the dog in Pena never left. Up until the final bell, Pena was doing everything she could to win the fight but on the night, it wasn’t enough.

The third round saw a switch in tactics for Nunes, who was having so much success on the feet. She took the fight down to the floor, controlling Pena and not allowing the champion to get anything off. The fourth and fifth played out similarly to the third, with Nunes taking the fight to the floor often and in a dominant fashion every time. A total of five takedowns were landed by the Lionness, allowing her to clock up 8:15 control time over the last 10 minutes. She brutalised Pena with elbows, splitting the champion open multiple times and leading her to need plastic surgery on her head.

Despite multiple submission efforts, including a pair of armbars that appeared to be locked in before Nunes slipped out (and don’t believe Joe Rogan who constantly claimed Pena was close to locking in an omoplata, yes she attempted it, but having grabbed the glove of Nunes every time, it was clear she wasn’t going to get it), Pena was simply outclassed on the night. There is no denying that she has the heart of a champion, but sometimes the skill differential is just too wide which was the case here.

What’s next?

Is there a call for a third fight? Technically Amanda Nunes and Julianna Pena are 1-1 in their rivalry, but there isn’t a great need for a third fight. Nunes battered Pena for 25 minutes and showed her superiority in regaining the belt. Pena needs to go away, fix the holes in her game, pick up a few wins and then possibly challenge Nunes again.

At bantamweight, there isn’t a lot of options for Nunes. Ketlen Viera is the standout contender, winning her last two fights. She’s ranked #2 currently and holds two back-to-back main event wins over former champions. With that being said, Viera vs. Nunes doesn’t excite fans an awful lot. A Raquel Pennington rematch could also happen, with ‘Rocky’ enjoying a four-fight winning run. Their first fight wasn’t all that competitive, however, so would be a hard sell to fans. Although Nunes is also the featherweight champion, the less said about that division the better.

If Nunes and her former rival, Valentina Shevchenko can work out a weight that works for them both, this is the fight to make. The two most dominant women in the sport need to clash again to see who is the best. Shevchenko was drastically undersized at 135lbs but has the perfect frame for 125lbs. Nunes couldn’t make 125lbs, so maybe a 130 or 132lbs catchweight could work with a rehydration clause in the contract of Nunes. The UFC aren’t in the business of huge catchweight bouts, however.

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Frazer Krohn has been with MMASucka for nearly 5 years. He is the host of the MMASucka podcast, which is released every Monday. He's the author of a series of six books about MMA, which were published in 2023.

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