Julianna Pena did the unthinkable at UFC 269 by out striking and submitting the greatest fighter in women’s MMA, Amanda Nunes. Pena staggered Nunes in the second round of their co-main event clash, dragged “Lioness” to the ground and secured the rear-naked choke to capture the UFC women’s bantamweight crown.
Pena was the evening’s biggest underdog at +575 against the two-division champion Nunes, who was upwards of -850. The fight played out as many expected in the first round as Nunes landed the harder, cleaner shots. Pena chipped away at Nunes’ gas tank with relentless pressure. The fight quickly dissolved into a sloppy slugfest as both women exchanged punches to the face. Pena landed big shots that backed Nunes up and managed to secure a pivotal takedown. “The Venezuelan Vixen” then snatched Nunes’ back and sunk in the fight-ending submission at 3:26 of Round 2.
“I told you! Don’t ever doubt me again,” Pena said during the post-fight interview. “Will power, strength and determination. It will take you places.
“I definitely expected a win and I’m just so grateful. The world is my oyster and you literally have the ability to do anything you want to in this life. I just proved that.”
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Nunes (21-4) loses her UFC women’s bantamweight champion; however, she remains the UFC women’s featherweight queen. The loss to Pena snaps a 12-fight winning streak dating back to 2015.
“I did everything tonight. I trained very hard for this,” the former champion said. “Congratulations to Julianna. She’s a warrior, I knew that the whole time. We’re going to go back to the gym, train hard and come back strong.”
Pena (11-4) now lays claim to the title after a career repeatedly stalled by severe knee injuries. The Ultimate Fighter season 18 winner is now 7-2 in the UFC.