clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Top UFC flyweight reportedly in mix for vacant bantamweight title fight, targets Julianna Pena

UFC 277: Pena v Nunes 2 Photo by Carmen Mandato/Getty Images

The women’s Bantamweight division in Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) has officially re-opened.

Reigning women’s Bantamweight and Featherweight queenpin, Amanda Nunes, called it a career at UFC 289 this past weekend (June 10, 2023). The arguably greatest female fighter of all-time picked up a dominant unanimous decision win over Mexico’s Irene Aldana, securing her 11th career win in UFC title fights.

As a result of Nunes’ mixed martial arts (MMA) departure, UFC’s perpetually shallow and rankingless Featherweight division will likely be shut down after an experimental start up in Feb. 2017. Bantamweight (the promotion’s first women’s division introduced in 2013) will continue on and now needs two contenders to battle in a vacant title showcase. One of the likely halves of the equation will be the former champion, Julianna Pena, who was originally booked over Aldana for a Nunes trilogy bout until a rib injury forced her to withdraw. According to TSN’s Aaron Bronsteter, the No. 4-ranked UFC women’s Flyweight contender, Erin Blanchfield, wants in on the action.

“One candidate throwing her name in the hat for the vacant Bantamweight title is Erin Blanchfield, I’m told,” Bronsteter tweeted.

“With a [Alexa] Grasso/Valentina [Shevchenko] bout expected to be next at Flyweight, she is interested in facing Pena for the vacant title and becoming the youngest female UFC champion ever.”

Blanchfield (11-1) has risen through the 125-pound ranks at a rapid pace and sits comfortably positioned as the possible next title challenger. As mentioned, however, Grasso’s March 2023 rear-naked choke title upset over Shevchenko (watch highlights) threw a wrench in those hopes, leading to an expected immediate rematch in the coming months.

At UFC 217 in Nov. 2017, Rose Namajunas defeated Joanna Jedrzjejczyk via first round knockout at age 25, setting the record as the youngest female champion in promotional history. A potential title win between now and late 2024 would see the 24-year-old Blanchfield overtake Namajunas in the record books. “Cold Blooded” Blanchfield has already missed the mark for overall titleholders set by the current Heavyweight champion, Jon Jones, at 23 in the Light Heavyweight division.


Who would win?

This poll is closed

  • 23%
    Julianna Pena
    (109 votes)
  • 76%
    Erin Blanchfield
    (350 votes)
459 votes total Vote Now

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