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Monday Morning Hangover: What’s next for Julianna Pena after brutal loss to Amanda Nunes at UFC 277?

UFC 277 went down this past weekend (Sat., July 30, 2022) in Dallas, Texas, in what truly was a thrilling night of fights that left several combatants feeling the post-fight blues. Among them was Derrick Lewis, who was knocked out by Sergei Pavlovich in the first round (relive it here) ... albeit a bit prematurely, according to most.

And Kai Kara-France, who failed to win the interim Flyweight title after he was stopped via technical knockout by Brandon Moreno thanks to a vicious liver kick and some ensuing ground-and-pound (highlights).

But, which fighter is suffering from the worst post-fight hangover, now a few days removed from the show?

Julianna Pena.

Coming into her rematch against Amanda Nunes, Pena was determined to put on a winning performance to erase any and all doubt that her submission win over “Lioness” at UFC 269 was a “fluke.” Furthermore, getting a first title defense is always of the utmost importance to a title-holder, and “The Venezuelan Vixen” is no different.

But, while Pena had success in her first bout against Nunes, she didn’t come close to replicating that showing. On the contrary, the now-former division champion was shutout for 25 minutes, taking a beating at the hands of the best female mixed martial arts (MMA) fighter on the planet. To Pena’s credit, though, she never wavered, never tapped and hung in the pocket to eat several of Nunes’ shots to try and deliver her own.

Indeed, Pena showed toughness and grit, but to hear Nunes tell it, the only reason Pena lasted so long is because she let her hang around so that she could to play with her food. Nevertheless, Pena now finds herself belt-less (and with a huge gash on her forehead), but she is determined to score a trilogy fight against her Brazilian counterpart.

“Tougher than a two dollar steak,” Pena wrote on her Instagram after the loss. “Thanks for the love everyone! Just a cat scratch that required a few stitches, no chunks missing, no surgery necessary. Love you all! We’re 1-1 now,” she added before signing off with a few hashtags, one of them signifying that she wants a third fight with the champion.

Getting a trilogy bout with Nunes may prove to be difficult because the champion revealed that she plans on taking some time off. Furthermore, Nunes may be more interested in a trilogy fight against current women’s Flyweight champion, Valentina Shevchenko.

Nunes and “Bullet” share a deep history since “Lioness” defeated the dominant champion twice before. And while one may think partaking in a trilogy fight against someone Nunes is 1-1 with instead of up 2-0 is more appealing, in this case it simply may not be true.

Nunes vs. Shevchneko 3 will draw more eyeballs given the dominance of both champions. That means that once Pena is able to return to action herself, she will likely have to look elsewhere for a dance partner.

If Pena doesn’t end up getting her trilogy fight against Nunes straight away, perhaps a fight against Holly Holm is in order. Holm — a former champion herself — is coming off a loss to Ketlen Vieira — who could be next in line for the title shot at 135 pounds. It would be an intriguing, fresh match up that will give the winner a fresh start on her hunt for gold.

To check out the latest and greatest UFC 277: “Pena vs. Nunes 2” news and notes be sure to hit up our comprehensive event archive right here.

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