MMAOB staff writer Adam Martin takes a deeper look at the co-main event of UFC 269, a five-round UFC women’s bantamweight title bout between Amanda Nunes and Julianna Pena. The event takes place on Saturday, December 11 at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada.
Amanda Nunes (-850)
Nunes (21-4) is the UFC women’s bantamweight and featherweight champion. The 33-year-old Brazilian has been in the UFC since 2013 and she has racked up an incredible 13-1 record during that time. Nunes has fought and defeated many of the greatest women’s fighters of all time, including Cris Cyborg, Holly Holm, Ronda Rousey, Miesha Tate, Germaine de Randamie, and Valentina Shevchenko. Other than Cat Zingano, who defeated Nunes in her third UFC fight, “The Lioness” has run through everyone in her path. With powerful striking to go along with a dominant grappling attack, fantastic cardio, and an iron chin, Nunes is nearly impossible to defeat. At this point, she is just adding to her mantle as the greatest women’s MMA fighter of all time, but despite the odds being lopsided in her favor, Pena is confident that she has the skills to get the upset win.
Julianna Pena (+575)
Pena (10-4) is the No. 5 ranked UFC women’s bantamweight. The 31-year-old American won “The Ultimate Fighter” in 2013 and has since then racked up a 6-2 record in the Octagon with wins over the likes of Sara McMann, Nicco Montano, Jessica Eye, and Cat Zingano. Pena is a strong grappler and she uses his wrestling and top control to win the majority of her fights. On the ground, Pena has both submission skills and vicious ground and pound, not to mention she is very good at controlling her opponents. That being said, Pena has made some big mistakes in the past that have cost her in fights against Germaine de Randamie and Valentina Shevchenko, where she was submitted twice. It will be interesting to see how this fight against Nunes plays out at UFC 265. Pena is a massive underdog, and it’s understandable, but perhaps she can make this fight closer than the odds say.
Fight Breakdown: This looks like a major mismatch to me, so I’m not surprised the line has ballooned to where it is now. Let’s be honest here, Pena doesn’t deserve to fight for the belt coming off of a one-fight win streak, but Nunes has essentially cleaned out the 135lbs division and the UFC just needs fresh bodies at this point. While Pena is certainly a strong wrestler and grappler, she still makes a lot of mistakes on the ground, and on the feet, she will be at a severe disadvantage in terms of hand speed and power. Nunes is the far superior mixed martial artist anywhere this fight goes, and the only question here is if she wins by decision or if she is able to finish Pena. Given Pena has lost two of her last fights by stoppage, I definitely think there is a good chance Nunes finishes her. Give me Nunes and I expect this to be one of the easier title defenses of her career.
Prediction: Amanda Nunes