With the announcement that the GOAT, Amanda Nunes will retire from the game following her dominant victory over Irene Aldana at UFC 289, the question was instantly asked… who will compete for the belt next? There are plenty of options as to who will compete for the belt next and we take a look at them in this matchmaking piece. We discuss matchmaking the division in the latest episode of the MMASucka podcast which can be found here:
Matchmaking Women’s Bantamweight
The title fight realistically matches itself. We can expect to see the former champion and the woman who was supposed to be fighting Nunes at UFC 289, Julianna Pena take on the former title challenger, Raquel Pennington to meet for the belt.
Pena is just one fight removed from being the champion and we know that she was desperate to be able to compete against Nunes in their trilogy fight. Not only this but she was frustrated at the retirement of Nunes post UFC 289.
I scared you so bad into retirement. Personally, Congratulations. Professionally, wtf was that? #UFC289
— Julianna Peña (@VenezuelanVixen) June 11, 2023
Pennington is enjoying a five-fight winning run and weighed in as the back-up fighter for the main event this weekend so is clearly in the eyes of Dana White and the UFC brass. She’s more than deserving of a shot at the belt and it’s assumed that she’ll be the one to make the walk.
Possible other contenders
Possible other contenders largely depend on results from fights already scheduled. The winner of Holly Holm and Mayra Bueno Silva will more than likely realise a title shot at some point soon. They are scheduled for a July 15th main event.
Ketlen Vieira has long been the gatekeeper to the top five but has never quite been in a position to compete for the title or even see a title eliminator as of yet. Vieira is scheduled to face Pannie Kianzad in London on July 22nd. Kianzad could extend her record to 6-1 in her last seven with a win in the UK.
We can’t forget about Irene Aldana of course. Although she was comprehensively outpointed by Nunes in her first title opportunity, we can’t completely count her out. She can still compete at the highest level, however, with that being said, she has a lot of holes in her game to fix.