Newly-crowned women’s bantamweight champion Amanda Nunes reclaimed her 135-pound title with a five-round decision victory over Julianna Pena in the UFC 277 main event last weekend in Dallas, Texas, a commanding performance that avenged her UFC 269 submission loss to “The Venezuelan Vixen.”
Nunes (22-5) holds 13 knockouts and four submissions in 22 wins but wanted to make a statement against Pena and send a message to the doubting Thomases who thought the 34 year-old “Lioness” was washed up.
“I know Julianna’s tough,” Pena told reporters during the UFC 277 press conference. “I was ready for that. I could’ve finished her, but I wanted to go five rounds with her tonight to prove I was better than her. Tonight proved that [UFC 269] was a lucky day for her. If she needed to become a champion like that, she had her time, but now it’s over.”
UFC welterweight contender Belal Muhammad is not impressed.
“There’s moments in the fight where Julianna could have won that fight,” Muhammad told his Instagram followers (transcribed by Farah Hannoun). “Amanda, I felt like, is getting too cocky. She’s getting too arrogant saying, ‘I could have finished her in the first round if I wanted to, but I wanted to go five rounds so I could show her who’s better,’ blah, blah, blah. Get out of here with that. You couldn’t finish her.”
Muhammad trains with Pena and insists “The Venezuelan Vixen” had Nunes worried.
“I think Amanda started taking her down in the third, fourth and fifth round because she didn’t want to get caught again on the feet,” Muhammad continued. “She knows that Julianna punches hard, her eye was very swollen, she was on crutches leaving. So, she was definitely in a fight. It wasn’t a dominating fight like a lot of people are making it out to be. Julianna won the first fight by finish, Amanda Nunes didn’t, so that’s why it deserves a trilogy fight. You could say what the score was: 50-44, 50-43, but that doesn’t talk about the whole fight.”
Fights are scored after each round specifically for the purpose of talking about the whole fight, so I’m not sure I understand that position. The official scorecards were 50-45, 50-44, and 50-43, reflecting what many fans and media consider to be a dominant performance.
The promotion will have no trouble selling a potential rubber match at some point in the near future, but matchmakers might first favor a featherweight title defense or an all-Brazilian showdown between Nunes and top bantamweight contender Ketlen Vieira.
“Congratulations, Amanda, You had a great fight [on Saturday] and you showed you’re in good shape,” Vieira wrote on social media. “Congrats [on taking] your belt back. I think there’s no option than fight with me and be ready for it, because I’ve been preparing myself to make it! And who knows if we do it as main fight here in Brazil? Good luck and see you soon!”
Expect a decision at some point over the next few weeks.