MMA: ‘Lioness’ Nunes is back after blasting Pena to reclaim UFC bantamweight crown

DALLAS, TEXAS (REUTERS) – Amanda Nunes held a mixed martial arts clinic to beat Julianna Pena by unanimous decision after a thrilling five-round battle in front of a crowd of 19,442 at the American Airlines Center in Dallas on Saturday (July 30) , reclaiming the UFC bantamweight title.

Nunes’ five-year reign as bantamweight champion came to an end when she lost the belt to Venezuela’s Pena in December 2021. But the Brazilian took it back on Saturday with a striking masterclass before moving the fight on the mat and survive a number of dangerous submission attempts from Pena.

Fighting from a southpaw stance, the 34-year-old dropped Pena three times in the second round – twice with her right hand and once with her left – as her opponent struggled to find her reach. Pena (12-5) didn’t do much better on the pitch.

“I had a bad night, but I know I was going to come back,” Nunes (22-5) said of his loss seven months ago. “I am ‘The Lioness’. I knew I would come back and now I am the champion again.”

Nunes pulled off a series of takedowns over the final three rounds and spent most of her time in top position, but she had to survive a threatening armbar submission attempt midway through round four as Pena, 32 years, fought desperately against her back with Nunes raining elbows on her.

The judges rewarded Nunes with a unanimous decision victory (50-45, 50-44, 50-43) which saw her add the bantamweight belt to her featherweight title as she regained her champion status. title in two weight categories.

In the co-main event of UFC 277, Brandon Moreno earned a third-round TKO victory over Kai Kara-France set up with a thunderous kick to the body to claim the interim flyweight title. The Mexican will now face Deiveson Figueiredo for the undisputed title.

The interim title was created because current titleholder Figueiredo was unable to meet the date as he recovered from hand and knee injuries.

Figueiredo and Moreno fought three times and each went 1-1-1, with both taking the title in their wins.

The Brazilian was brought into the cage and they exchanged words to set up their fourth fight. “I don’t hate you,” said Moreno, who is 5-1-1 in his last seven games. “I want to fight you in December. Let’s go in December.”