World doubts Julianna Peña can beat Amanda Nunes at UFC 269, but Peña believes

Julianna Pena believe. She may be the only one.

Peña entered the UFC 269 co-main event Saturday night as the team that lost 6 1/2 against Amanda Nunes, and who can argue with that? She went up against the greatest fighter in women’s MMA history and a two-division champion.

Amanda Nunes walks into the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas to defend her bantamweight title. Currently, Nunes only owns a featherweight belt.

Peña did exactly what she said she would do in this lead in the bantamweight title fight. She said she would come to Nunes shortly. She said she would make Nunes quit.

To many, including this observer, Peña’s words sounded like nothing more than empty haze. The 32-year-old from Spokane, Washington has only drawn 1-1 in her last two fights and most recently in 2020, having been strangled by a boxer. What threat could she pose to Nunes, the No. 1 boxer in ESPN’s women’s weight rankings and the winner of 12 straight bouts, in a long string of successes. all the way back to 2015? I am not alone in viewing this title as an inappropriateness.

And it started to look like one. Peña came forward, as she said, but throughout the first round Nunes hit her repeatedly. Nunes takes Peña to the mid-circle canvas and dominates her there. Looks like another day at the office for GOAT.

Then it’s not. Round 2 started with Peña moving forward again, but this time her javelins landed. Sometimes the right arm is the same. Nunes was returning fire, but not with the usual precision. The champion was getting a full load of strength, but she was slipping again and again, and all of that had worn her out.



Julianna Pena says confidence is key after dethroning Amanda Nunes with a shocking subdued win at UFC 269.

In the middle of the round, the defending champion seemed to fade and that only added to the strength of the challenger. After supporting Nunes with her attacks, Peña fought with the canvas and was immediately trapped in a non-clothed aft plane. Nunes quickly mined.

And new!

Shocker of all shockers.

This is the biggest sadness in MMA history. I know, the odds don’t quite live up to that claim – technically, Peña is the fourth-biggest underdog team to ever win the championship – but consider the sport’s previous big surprises. this sport.

Purely by numbers, greatest MMA sadness to be Holly Holm2015 knockout of Ronda Rousey. It was also a shock, as Rousey was undefeated and finished off her four most recent opponents in 66, 16, 14 and 34 seconds. Rousey has dominated a force like the sport has never seen. But Holm was a world third-place boxing champion. Her resume at the time went beyond what Peña brought in Saturday’s fight.

Much the same can be said about Matt Serra, who is below +850 on the night of 2007 when he knocked down the great Georges St-Pierre. Serra may not be higher than Peña in terms of MMA record, but the GSP he beat that night was a brand new champion still young in the game.

Nunes, by comparison, has long been entrenched at the top of the sport. She hasn’t lost a fight since 2014 and she owns all of the greatest fights in women’s MMA history. Rousey. Holm. Cris Cyborg. Valentina Shevchenko, twice. Not a single soul on Earth can refute the 33-year-old Brazilian’s claim to be GOAT.

So when Nunes weakly made his way up to suffocation at 3:26 of Round 2, T-Mobile Arena erupted with the kind of noise made by fans who had just witnessed history. History cannot be improved.

Undoubtedly for us to be sure, but not impossible for Julianna Peña.

“I’m not surprised, mom… ers!” Peña exclaimed as the microphone was placed in front of her then inside the cage. What is she quoting? Nate Diaz talked about a lot of things that delighted fans, after he choked on saying Conor McGregor in 2016. The crowd also cheered for Peña’s recitation.

Few, if any, of that crowd believed that Peña was capable of defeating Nunes. But her faith in herself led Peña to a moment that would go down in the annals of UFC history.

“I told you,” Peña added. “Never doubt me again. Willpower, strength and determination, it will get you there.” World doubts Julianna Peña can beat Amanda Nunes at UFC 269, but Peña believes

John Verrall

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