Despite having her dominant reign over the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) Bantamweight division ended, Amanda Nunes remains one of the sport’s all-time greats.
Last December at UFC 269 (Dec. 11, 2021), fans witnessed one of the biggest upsets in mixed martial arts (MMA) history thanks to Julianna Pena. Challenging Nunes for her 135-pound crown, Pena weathered an early first-round storm from the champion, coming on strong in round two to exchange big shots on the feet before securing a rear-naked choke submission (watch highlights). The title changed hands for the first time since July 2016 and now they’ll run things back at UFC 277 on July 30, 2022. Regardless of the defeat, Nunes is still UFC Featherweight champion.
For UFC President, Dana White, he recently highlighted what he believes to be a potential reason we saw a big shakeup in the MMA landscape.
“The question is, for Amanda — and this is what happens to all fighters — you know the big narrative we don’t pay anybody? Amanda’s rich,” White told ESPN (h/t MMA Junkie). “Amanda is a multi-millionaire who is now at a completely different financial status. She has a baby now. Her life — she is not that hungry savage she was when she started to take this run at becoming a world champion. A lot of that factors in.”
To get to their rematch, Nunes and Pena have coached opposite each other on The Ultimate Fighter 30 (TUF). The season acts as a full circle experience for the now-champion, having entered the promotion by winning TUF 18 in Nov. 2013.
“And now Julianna’s at a place where she beat her, Julianna’s starting to see a lot of the things that come along with being the world champion now — financially, popularity as you get out in the world,” White said. “That belt is the key that opens a lot of doors. So I’m sure she wants to get to that Amanda Nunes level, financially and everything else. All that stuff factors into the fight, and those are all questions I can’t answer.”