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UFC 269 card: Amanda Nunes vs. Julianna Pena full fight preview

Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) women’s Bantamweight queenpin, Amanda Nunes, will look to deny another challenger in Julianna Pena this weekend (Sat., Dec. 11, 2021) at UFC 269 inside T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada. Nunes hasn’t defended her 135-pound title in two years, but no one really cares. That sentiment is a testament to both the profound dominance of her reign and the complete lack of development at Bantamweight. There aren’t any new faces trying to contend, and that includes Pena, who’s been on the roster since 2013! Really, Pena secured her title shot simply be being the only woman vocally calling for a shot vs. “The Lioness,” and now we’ll found out if she’s in over her head.

Let’s take a closer look at the keys to victory for each woman:

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CHAMPIONSHIP DOUBLEHEADER! Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) returns to Honda Center in Anaheim, Calif., on Sat., Jan. 22, 2022, for the first time in more than two years with a Heavyweight title unification bout that will see former teammates collide, as division kingpin, Francis Ngannou, battles interim counterpart, Ciryl Gane. In UFC 270’s pay-per-view (PPV) co-main event, newly-minted Flyweight champion, Brandon Moreno, runs it back with former titleholder, Deiveson Figueiredo. IT’S A THRILLING CHAMPIONSHIP DOUBLE DIP YOU SIMPLY CAN’T MISS!

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Amanda Nunes

Record: 21-4
Key Wins: Cris Cyborg (UFC 232), Ronda Rousey (UFC 207), Holly Holm (UFC 239), Miesha Tate (UFC 200), Valentina Shevchenko (UFC 215, UFC 196), Germaine de Randamie (UFC 245), Sara McMann (UFC Fight Night 73), Raquel Pennington (UFC 224)
Key Losses: Cat Zingano (UFC 178), Sarah D’Alelio (Invicta FC 4), Alexis Davis (Strikeforce: Barnett vs Kharitonov)
Keys to Victory: Nunes is on a different level of athleticism and physicality than pretty much all of her peers. The 33-year-old Brazilian punches holes through her opposition, and in the rare event that her knockout power fails her, she’s a credential grappler, too.

The match up dynamic here is pretty simple: Pena simply cannot compete with Nunes on the feet. Given just a few exchanges, Nunes’ right hand will land. Pena is plenty tough, but as her mentor and fellow gamer Miesha Tate found out the hard way, being tough is no use against true power.

Is any adjustment or major strategizing really necessary here? No. Nunes would be wise to take, I don’t know, 30 to 60 seconds to find her range before unloading, because Pena will surely be trying to duck under her cross. Otherwise, bombs away!

If nothing else, Nunes should also keep her eyes peeled for the submission. Pena pursues the takedown with a bit of desperation, and that mindset his seen her feel into the submissions of kickboxers previously.


Julianna Pena

Record: 10-4
Key Wins: Sara McMann (UFC 257), Cat Zingano (UFC 200), Nicco Montano (UFC Fight Night 155), Jessica Eye (UFC 192)
Key Losses: Germaine de Randamie (UFC Fight Island 4), Valentina Shevchenko (UFC on FOX 23)
Keys to Victory: Pena is a very solid grinder. She’s tough, well-conditioned and has the fundamentals of wrestling and jiu-jitsu down, which has allowed her to pick up some quality wins over the years. In general, Pena is very solid once able to gain top position.

Let’s not lies to ourselves here: Pena cannot strike with Nunes. This is not a Chael Sonnen vs. Anderson Silva situation, where maybe the wrestler can land a few good shots thanks to the threat of the takedown. No, every punch Pena throws at distance is an opportunity for Nunes to block/slip/absorb and then return with a shot far more thunderous.

Pena has to wrestle immediately. That’s obviously her sole path to victory, so why screw around? Tackle the waist immediately, force the clinch, pull guard if need be — whatever it takes to bring this fight to the floor.

On the mat, Pena at least has a chance to gain top position somehow and start grinding down Nunes into something less fearsome.


Bottom Line

Nunes is once again an astronomical favorite in another title defense.

At this point, what’s left for “The Lioness?” Assuming she dispatches Pena as expected, there are only two opponents that differ from the usual mold of hopelessly out-matched: Valentina Shevchenko and Kayla Harrison. The demanded for a Shevchenko trilogy is still low, and Harrison is not signed by UFC (yet), so Nunes’ next step is unclear.

What is certain is that she’ll be the favorite.

On the flip side, Pena has a chance to make history. Likely not a very good chance, but still, Pena has talked herself into a UFC title shot. If she is able to dethrone Nunes, “The Venezuelan Vixen” will have scored one of the all-time great upsets in UFC history.

At UFC 269, Amanda Nunes and Julianna Pena will throw down. Which woman leaves the cage strapped with gold?


Remember that MMAmania.com will deliver LIVE round-by-round, blow-by-blow coverage of the entire UFC 269 fight card right here, starting with the early ESPN+ “Prelims” matches online, which are scheduled to begin at 6 p.m. ET, then the remaining undercard balance on ESPN/ESPN+ at 8 p.m. ET, before the PPV main card start time at 10 p.m. ET on ESPN+ PPV.

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