clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

UFC 289’s Amanda Nunes claims Irene Aldana bigger challenge than Julianna Pena: ‘She’s a better fighter’

Amanda Nunes will be fighting someone other than Julianna Pena for the first time in over two years later tonight (Sat., June 10, 2023) at UFC 289 live on ESPN+ PPV from inside Rogers Arena in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada, but that doesn’t mean “Lioness” will have an easier time inside of the cage. She’ll be taking on Irene Aldana in Saturday’s main event.

LIVE! Watch UFC 293 PPV On ESPN+ Here!

MASSIVE MIDDLEWEIGHT MATCH! Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) makes its highly anticipated return to Sydney, Australia, for the first time in five years on Sat., Sept. 9, 2023, with a 185-pound world title fight inside Qudos Bank Arena. In the ESPN+-streamed pay-per-view (PPV) main event, Middleweight roost-ruler, Israel Adesanya, plans to silence No. 5-seeded contender, Sean Strickland. In UFC 293’s hard-hitting Heavyweight co-main event, No-6-ranked fan favorite, Tai Tuivasa, locks horns with towering Russian, Alexander Volkov (No. 8).

Don’t miss a single second of EPIC face-punching action!

For Nunes, this is her opportunity to fight an unfamiliar contender in the 135-pound division. The UFC double champion is coming off back-to-back matchups against Pena and they weren’t easy. Pena scored one of the biggest upsets of all time by submitting Nunes back at UFC 269, but Nunes returned the favor at UFC 277 by beating the brakes off Pena for a unanimous decision. She won her belt back in the process.

This weekend will be the first time in over two years in which Nunes is fighting someone not named Pena. The last time that happened “Lioness” captured a submission victory over Megan Anderson at UFC 259 to defend her women’s featherweight title. Furthermore, the last time Nunes fought someone other than Pena in the bantamweight division came back in 2019 with a decision victory over Germaine de Randamie.

Needless to say, Nunes still has something to prove this weekend. Despite her legendary UFC career, the Brazilian champion can still grow as a fighter. Knocking off a hungry striker like Aldana and putting her rivalry with Pena in the rearview is a great way to take her game to an even higher level.

Unfortunately for Nunes, she believes Aldana will be a tougher matchup than Pena was. Aldana is a completely different fighter who leaves herself open on the feet, but “Lioness” believes she is an all-around better fighter than Pena.

“Honestly, I will stop her. No doubt in my mind,” said Nunes at UFC 289’s pre-fight press conference ( watch HERE). “This belt is Brazilian. This belt is mine. I’m completely ready for this fight.

“She’s a better fighter than Julianna, for sure. She’s going to bring the challenge, and I’m ready for this battle. I’m more ready than ever. She’s going to bring the challenge, and I’m going to be ready to answer it. You guys have a great main event.”

For Aldana, this is as big as it gets. Not only is she fighting for her first UFC title, but she’s doing it in a PPV main event against the greatest female combat athlete of all time. If she wants to become Mexico’s next UFC champion she’s going to have to put forth a perfect performance. One that is better than Pena’s last outing against Nunes.

What do you think, fight fans? Is Aldana a stiffer challenge than Pena?

Sound off! will deliver LIVE round-by-round, blow-by-blow coverage of the entire UFC 289 fight card RIGHT HERE, starting with the early “Prelims” matches at 7 p.m. ET on ESPN/ESPN+, followed by the remaining “Prelims” undercard balance at 8 p.m. ET on ESPN/ESPN+, before the final PPV main card start time at 10 p.m. ET on ESPN+ PPV.

To check out the latest and greatest UFC 289: “Nunes vs. Aldana” news and notes be sure to hit up our comprehensive event archive right here. For the updated and finalized UFC 289 fight card and PPV lineup click here.

Sign up for the newsletter Sign up for the MMA Mania Daily Roundup newsletter!

A daily roundup of all your fighting news from MMA Mania