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UFC 277: Pena vs Nunes 2 - Jul 30 🇺🇸


wandshogun09

Who wins and how?   

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Back on PPV at the end of the month as Dallas, Texas hosts this lot…

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PPV MAIN CARD
Julianna Pena© vs Amanda Nunes - Bantamweight Title

Brandon Moreno vs Kai Kara-France - Interim Flyweight Title

Derrick Lewis vs Sergei Pavlovich 

Alexandre Pantoja vs Alex Perez 

Magomed Ankalaev vs Anthony Smith 

ESPN PRELIMS 
Alex Morono vs Matthew Semelsberger

Drew Dober vs Rafael Alves

Don’Tale Mayes vs Hamdy Abdelwahab

Drakkar Klose vs Rafa Garcia

ESPN+/FIGHT PASS PRELIMS
Michael Morales vs Adam Fugitt

Ji Yeon Kim vs Joselyne Edwards  

Nicolae Negumereanu vs Ihor Potieria 

Orion Cosce vs Mike Mathetha 

 

As far as I know, that is the official bout order as I type this. As always, I’ll edit as and when the pullouts and the million card shuffles start, because you know they’re coming. I’d like to see the prelims jumbled up a bit. I’d definitely have Brahimaj vs Morales and Bahamondes vs Klein on the televised prelims rather than Fight Pass. As far as PPVs go, this is obviously a stark contrast to 276. A big comedown on paper from the last bunch of numbered events actually. But fuck it, it’s not PPV for us and there is some good stuff on this one. It’ll do. 

 

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Julianna Pena vs Amanda Nunes 2 tops the bill then. Not the strongest of main events and I’m guessing there’ll be a lot of moaning about it as a headliner but it is what it is. Not every PPV is gonna be a blockbuster. It does feel like this would’ve been better served as a co-main under a more appealing title fight but whatever. At least there’s some intrigue here given what happened in the first fight.

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They met back at UFC 269 in December. With Nunes as the defending, dominant champion coming in. She’d had a few losses earlier in her career but from 2015 on, she’d gone on a reign of terror that saw her put together a 12 fight winning streak and win both the Featherweight and Bantamweight titles. And not just win them, she successfully defended them both more than once. Among those 12 wins we saw her smash up and retire Ronda Rousey in seconds, bludgeon and submit Miesha Tate in a round, be the first to stop Holly Holm via strikes in MMA, beat Valentina Shevchenko twice and knock out Cyborg in a round! Going into the Pena fight she was 21-4 and coming off a first round reverse triangle/armbar finish over Megan Anderson. It had got to the point where it seemed all the threats to her title were toast. The only names people thought might be a threat were the Cyborg rematch (but she’s in Bellator now) or a third go with Shevchenko (but she’s 0-2 down already). There was even a fair bit of talk, from fans and media, with people starting to speculate that Nunes might just retire. That’s how thin on the ground for contenders she was. So when the Pena fight got made, everyone saw her as just the latest sacrificial lamb. Well…

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I still don’t know how in the fuck this happened. We’re 7 months removed now and it still makes no sense to me. I can’t make it make sense. Pena isn’t an awful fighter but she’d looked seriously average for the best part of a decade in the UFC prior to this and had been inconsistent results-wise. She did win TUF back in 2013 but since then she’d gone a lacklustre 5-2, hadn’t looked particularly good in the wins and the most recent loss was a submission against Germaine De Randamie, a Dutch Kickboxer not known for her grappling, who’d never submitted anyone before she guillotined Pena. And considering Pena’s grappling was supposed to be her main strength, it didn’t bode well. She’d won one fight since that loss to De Randamie, a submission over a 40 year old Sara McMann. The only reason she even got the title shot off the back of that was because Nunes had wasted everyone else already. I was the most vocal and dismissive on here about Pena’s chances going in. There’s been title fight mismatches in the past but I honestly don’t think I’ve ever been any more sure about a result than I was here. I put it on par with prime GSP defending against Dan Hardy back in the day. I was that confident that Nunes was going to squash her with ease. But here we are.

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Of course, after the fact everyone claimed they weren’t surprised and that they called it etc etc. Load of wank. I said it at the time and I stand by it 100% now, if anyone did call it, they called it just on the off-chance Pena somehow pulled it off so they could act the smart arse the next day. Fuck how the fight played out on the night, nobody saw that shit coming. Nobody. There was no logical reason to think Pena, of all people, was gonna be the one to end the reign of Amanda Nunes. It wasn’t on the cards until it was. I genuinely think the only person on the planet who was delusional enough to truly believe Pena was gonna win was Pena herself! And I guess in the end, that’s all that mattered.

The whole thing just felt so weird. The way Nunes faded so rapidly when not a ton was happening, the way Pena was able to choke her without even getting the hooks in. It was surreal watching it. People can call it excuses all they want but I really feel like something wasn’t right with Nunes on that night. Still have to give Pena a lot of credit for gutting through Nunes’ opening attacks. Not many survive that. But nobody can convince me this was the same Nunes who stood and traded bomb for bomb with fucking Cyborg and sat her down. Whether it was complacency or the after effects of her bout of COVID or what. There was something not quite right to me.

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They’ve done the Ultimate Fighter coaching thing leading into this rematch. So it’s been a longer build than usual. I haven’t watched a single second of this season of TUF. I’m at the point where unless they come up with a really fun or interesting pair of coaches, I’m just over TUF. But I don’t mind the bit of a delay getting the rematch on. Nunes looked so bad last time I think a really quick turnaround wouldn’t have been a good idea. Hopefully she’s gone away and really taken this seriously and left no stone unturned because I still believe she’s the better fighter by quite a distance. That might sound odd to anyone who watched the first fight but fighters have bad nights sometimes. Now if Pena beats her again, I’ll go to the grave baffled.

Pena’s talking a bunch of shit as expected…

“I already beat you. You hadn’t been submitted, you hadn’t been stopped, you had this title reign of the GOAT and you got embarrassed, and you got so frustrated that you fired your entire team. You quit your gym that you’d been at for 10 years. You had to go see a sports psychologist. Like, why kick a dog when it’s down? That’s just not my style, that’s not my character, and I already know how much it hurt her. I’m not trying to pour salt on the wounds. She wants me to burn the church down too, it’s like it’s good, you know what I mean? I already did my trash talking in the ring. There’s nothing really more for me to say.” - Julianna Pena

Christ, how does anyone actually like this twat? Well, nobody did before she pulled off the upset over Nunes. I don’t remember one Pena fan. “Why kick a dog when it’s down? That’s not my style”. After she’s already just booted the dog’s ribs in. Can’t stand her, her shite rambling patter or her new bandwagon of Johnny-come-lately fans. I think Nunes batters her this time though. A lot of MMA fans, being the fickle fucks they are, have turned since December and are now acting like Nunes is and was always shite and Pena is some killer all of a sudden. I don’t see it. The only thing worrying me is the stuff about Nunes leaving American Top Team after the loss in December. Maybe she needed the change but it always comes across a bit knee-jerk and hasty when a fighter switches gyms immediately after a loss. Especially considering how long Nunes was a part of ATT. I really hope Nunes rights the wrong this time. Pena’s little spell of relevance needs to come to an end now thankyou very much.

 

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Brandon Moreno vs Kai Kara-France 2 co-mains. For the interim Flyweight title for some reason. Despite Deiveson Figueiredo only winning the thing in January. The UFC had originally said the plan was to do Figgy vs Moreno 4 next. I love both guys and their series has been great so far but I definitely think that rivalry needs a break. Having the same two guys fight 4 times in a row in the space of 2 years would’ve been ridiculous. A change up is more than welcome at this stage. Although I still don’t get why the interim belt. I’d have thought they’d have just gone with a Figueiredo vs Kara-France fight for the proper belt. Figgy had actually expressed interest in that fight as well. Then this got announced. I’m not gonna complain as it’s a killer fight on paper.

They already fought once at UFC 245 back in December 2019.

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Same night as Usman vs Covington 1 and Holloway vs Volkanovski 1. I have very vague memories of the fight though. Looking at the card, it was on the Fight Pass prelims so maybe I didn’t even see the full thing. I know I at least saw highlights. Mad to think though, a fight like Moreno vs KKF was slumming it on Fight Pass. Times have changed. Moreno won the first fight on points. I’ll do my usual thing and review it in here before the rematch.

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There’s Kara-France smacking Cody Garbrandt around last December. Just because why not enjoy it again? He followed that up with a decision win over Askar Askarov in a really good fight in March. Askarov was undefeated and thought to be the potential boogeyman at 125 so it was a big win for KKF. Especially after that quick finish over Garbrandt as well. Those two wins back-to-back really catapulted him into this position. He’s really on fire right now and Moreno is looking to get another crack at Figgy and the gold after losing another barnburner in their third fight in January. Obviously if he wins the interim belt, he secures that 4th fight. Love this matchup. Looking forward to revisiting the first fight but they’ve both levelled up since 2019 and they’ve got 5 rounds to play with this time so it should be even better now.

 

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Derrick Lewis vs Sergei Pavlovich. The ‘Black Beast’ returns home to Texas! When this was announced there was a bit of a collective “who?!” on social media in response to Pavlovich as an opponent. I get it to a degree. Lewis is a beloved fixture in the division now and only really loses to champs and top contenders. It feels like he’s kind of earned name fights every time at this stage in his career. The problem is though, he’s pretty much fought everyone already. When you look at the more well known names of the division, there aren’t many fresh fights left for the Beast. He’s coming off that brutal elbow KO loss against Tai Tuivasa in February so it’s not like he’s in a position to demand anything. But I was a tad surprised myself to see this matchup made. Fair play to Lewis because this is a bit of a high risk/low reward fight to take, especially coming off a bad knockout loss.

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There’s Pavlovich wiping out Shamil Abdurakhimov in a round on the London card in March. Not a mega impressive win or anything but he looked dangerous. He’s a bit of an unknown quantity as well. He’s not been beating top guys but, of the opponents he has faced, he’s gone 15-1 with 12 first round knockouts. And the only loss came against Alistair Overeem in 2018. Who knows how good he is? Like I said, ballsy move by Lewis taking this fight. Pavlovich might’ve already gone as far as he’s capable of for all we know, or he could be a killer who’s on his way to the title mix. We won’t know what he’s truly about until he’s in with some of the better fighters at HW, and that’s what I like about this. Lewis is by far the biggest test he’ll have been faced with since that lone career loss to Reem. So we’ll see how he does here.

 

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Alexandre Pantoja vs Alex Perez is a very solid fight in the Flyweight division. Pantoja might just be the most overlooked guy at 125 for me. He’s 24-5 and already has two wins over Brandon Moreno. Although one was on TUF so doesn’t appear on his official record. He’s a tricky customer for pretty much anyone and he’s never been finished. In his last two fights he decisioned Manel Kape and got a POTN winning submission victory over Brandon Royval. Not too shabby. Perez is 24-6 and came up short in his title fight against Figgy back in November 2020. Got subbed quick in that one. He hasn’t fought since either through one thing or another. He’s a good fighter and actually scored a first round leg kick stoppage over Jussier Formiga before the loss to Figgy but to come back from a long layoff against someone like Pantoja is a big ask. I read the other day that Pantoja will serve as the backup on this card incase either Moreno or Kara-France drop out of the co-main. Makes sense and I like that they’ve got a Plan B in place. Hopefully it won’t come to that but it’s a good idea.

 

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Magomed Ankalaev vs Anthony Smith is a decent PPV opener. Feels very much like a changing of the guard type matchup this but I’m not 100% sure anymore about Ankalaev. For a while I’ve thought he’s probably the darkhorse of the division and maybe the champion in waiting. But I don’t know anymore. He’s really good, don’t get me wrong. I’m just not sure he’s gonna have quite the impact I initially thought he would. He’s got time though and he’s stacking up the wins. He’s only just turned 30 and has a record of 17-1, 9 by KO/TKO and he’s currently ranked #4 in the division. He beat Thiago Santos in his last fight but it was a really flat, lacklustre showing. It was Ankalaev’s first UFC main event and a big opportunity to make a statement against an established name at 205 but it didn’t go that way. The fight was dull and Ankalaev’s own performance wasn’t amazing either. He beat a badly fading Santos on points but made hard work of it and even got dropped at one point! I don’t remember his previous wins over Oezdemir or Krylov being particularly great either. He looked terrifying when he brutally knocked out Ion Cutelaba a couple of years ago but as he’s gone up in levels it hasn’t been the same. I still think he might have the tools to give anyone issues on a good night but I’m not as convinced by him as I once was. In Smith he’s got another veteran and respected name. This’ll be Smith’s 53rd pro fight. He turns 34 just days before this show, not an old man but he’s got some miles on him and been in some hard battles. In fairness to him, he’s coming into this one off the back of 3 straight first round wins over younger opposition. There’s fight in him yet. Ankalaev should really be winning this fight at this stage in both their careers and I think he will. But seeing him get clipped and dropped by a declining Santos last time, it makes this that little bit more interesting to me. Got to think Smith’s confidence is high as well coming off those 3 wins.

 

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Alex Morono vs Matthew Semelsberger. OK fight. I’m neither here nor there on Morono really. He’s not a bad fighter. Decent 21-7-0-1 record and on a little 3 fight winning streak. Battered the shell of Donald Cerrone inside a round last May, decisioned Mickey Gall in December. There’s much worse on the roster but there’s just something about him that brings out the complete apathy in me. Sounds silly but maybe it’s just that he looks so bland. Like the CAW template you used to start with on the old WWE games. Then add in that his fighting style isn’t exactly flashy or dynamic and he’s got no real personality to speak of, there isn’t much to work with. Semelsberger might make this one worthwhile though. He’s no future contender but I think I’ve enjoyed everything I’ve seen of him so far. He’s had 5 fights in the UFC now and he ended 2 of them by knockout in under 20 seconds apiece.

 

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Drew Dober vs Rafael Alves. Could be a fun one here. Dober’s been great to watch recently, win or lose. Aside from the submission loss to Islam Makhachev last year, his last bunch of fights have been ace to watch. Him bashing up Alexander Hernandez was so satisfying, the 3 round scrap against Brad Riddell was fantastic and his last fight against Terrance McKinney was one of the best, most dramatic, one round barnburners I can recall in recent memory.

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If you somehow missed it, get it watched. It was on the Santos vs Ankalaev card in March and was about as wild a 3 minute fight as you’ll ever see. Dober getting decked, weathering the McKinney storm and getting the finish himself was nuts. I’m a bit hazy on Alves but he did get a first round submission victory over Marc Diakiese in his last fight in November. He also went the distance with Damir Ismagulov before that so he’s tough as well. We’ll see how it goes but Dober seems the type who can drag an entertaining fight out of most.

 

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Don’Tale Mayes vs Hamdy Abdelwahab. Yay. Unranked Heavyweights. Always a pleasure. This was originally supposed to be Mayes vs Justin Tafa which, while still not great, at least had Tafa who’s become a bit of an undercard favourite of mine due to his love of getting into slugfests. So when he dropped out, my interest pretty much vanished. I don’t even think Mayes is that bad but I’m a bit fuzzy on him. I mostly remember him as one of Ciryl Gane’s early Octagon victims. He’s 9-4 and coming off a TKO win over the mighty Josh Parisian.

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He also did that to Parisian. Abdelwahab makes his UFC debut, stepping in on late notice. I’d never heard of him but looking him up, I’m intrigued now. He’s unbeaten at 5-0 with 5 knockouts, 3 of them in less than a minute, and has fought exclusively on Jorge Masvidal’s Gamebred FC and iKon FC cards. Apparently he’s an Olympic Greco-Roman wrestler (competed at the 2016 Games in Rio) and will be the first ever Egyptian fighter in UFC history. Just like that, my interest is restored. 

 

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Drakkar Klose vs Rafa Garcia. This was supposed to be Klose against Carlos Diego Ferreira but CDF is out with an injury, which sucks for him. His career really seems like it’s dwindling away now. Anyway, Klose is 12-2-1 and beat the absolute dogshite out of Brandon Jenkins in April. He’d been out 2 years prior to that win after suffering a bad KO loss against Beneil Dariush in 2020, then he had that mad injury from Jeremy Stephens pushing him at the weigh in which cancelled their fight and he’d been out since. He came back with a bang in that Jenkins fight. Garcia is the late fill in. A solid enough substitute with a 14-2 record and 9 finishes. He’s beat Natan Levy and Jesse Ronson in his last couple of fights after dropping a couple of decisions upon entering the UFC. It’s alright this but a bit of a comedown for me. I was looking forward to Ferreira hopefully getting back in the win column.

 

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Michael Morales vs Adam Fugitt. Last minute patch up job this. Morales was meant to fight Ramiz Brahimaj but that went in the bin. Glad they managed to keep Morales on the card. He’s looking like a legitimate prospect.

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He’s from Ecuador, only 22 years old and he’s undefeated at 13-0 with 11 finishes so far. He got in through DWCS and made his Octagon debut at UFC 270 in January, stopping Trevin Giles in the first round. I remember MMA Twitter losing their shit, with some instantly declaring he’d have a brighter future than Khamzat Chimaev. He’s undeniably got a lot of potential but it’s very early days and he did get briefly dropped by Giles, who’s very average really. Looks like he’s gonna be exciting regardless. Fugitt steps in on short notice, he’s 8-2 with 7 finishes and comes in off 4 straight wins inside the distance. Only name I recognise on his record is Austin ‘Mr Paige VanZant’ Vanderford, Fugitt lost a decision to him back in 2017.

 

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Ji Yeon Kim vs Joselyne Edwards. Another patch up job. Kim was originally set to face Mariya Agapova here. Not an amazing fight in itself but Agapova being a bit of a loon made it slightly more interesting to me. Kim’s had a bit of an unremarkable stint in the UFC. She’s 9-5-2 now and on a 3 fight losing streak. But she is coming off an unexpected banger against Priscila Cachoeira last time out.

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Seriously, it was much more entertaining than it really had any right to be. And I remember thinking Kim should’ve got the decision but the judges went against her. I’m sure the $50K FOTN bonus sweetened it a little bit but I felt like she deserved the W that night. Edwards steps in on a couple of weeks notice. She’s from Panama, 26 years old with a record of 11-4. Hasn’t dazzled me so far and she’s already had a couple of losses to lower level opposition in the UFC. She comes into this one off a points win against Ramona Pascual at UFC 275 in Singapore. That was up at Featherweight, she’s back at Bantamweight for this.

 

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Nicolae Negumereanu vs Ihor Potieria. Not a clue. I’ve not seen much Negumereanu. He’s Romanian, 27 years old with a record of 12-1 and 10 inside the distance. Hasn’t blown anyone away yet but did manage a split decision over Kennedy Nzechukwu last time out. He’s alright but I’m not expecting him to make serious waves. Especially as his lone career defeat came against Saparbek Safarov who’s pretty shite. Potieria makes his first trip to the Octagon here. He’s Ukrainian, 26 years old and 19-2 with 15 finishes. He got a quick TKO win on DWCS back in September.

 

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Orion Cosce vs Mike Mathetha. Pretty sure this was booked on a recent card and got scrapped for some reason. I vaguely recall previewing it before. Anyway, I’ve seen limited footage of these two but it might be worth a gander. Cosce is 7-1, came into the UFC unbeaten and with a little bit of hype after a win on DWCS. But he got stopped in his UFC debut by Phil Rowe last July. Pretty good fight from what I remember but obviously not the ideal result. Mathetha, AKA ‘Blood Diamond’, is also looking to rebound after an unsuccessful Octagon debut. He’s a City Kickboxing guy, so a teammate of Israel Adesanya, Alexander Volkanovski, Kai Kara-France, Dan Hooker etc. That team’s doing alright for itself at the moment, eh? He came in with a 3-0 record but got submitted by Jeremiah Wells in February. So these two are both in the same boat here, both looking for redemption after losing their O in their debuts.

 

Fuck Pena. 

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Edited by wandshogun09
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If any card couldn’t afford to lose fights, it’s this one. And it’s just lost four in quick succession.

1) Ignacio Bahamondes is out of my ‘one to watch’ against Ludovit Klein due to visa issues. The silver lining to this is that Klein’s been moved to the London card against Mason Jones. 

2) Carlos Diego Ferreira is injured and his fight with Drakkar Klose is off. Klose now fights Rafa Garcia.

3) Mariya Agapova is out. Joselyne Edwards steps in against Ji Yeon Kim.

And 4) Ramiz Brahimaj has withdrew from his scheduled fight with Brazilian prospect Michael Morales. Marcel Dorff still has Morales listed for the card against ‘TBA’ but fuck knows if they find a replacement.

Fun and games.

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My initial feeling was that Nunes handily wins a rematch. I just have a feeling that she has one foot out of the game, and if Pena puts that pressure on her again we could very well see a repeat of the first.

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To be fair to Juliana, she has come off well on TUF. The interaction with Amanda is non-existent, but there's no denying the effort she's put her all into coaching her team and the relationships she's built with them. 

...and yeah, fit.

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Still an annoying twat of a gobshite though. And her trash talk is among the worst I’ve heard, it’s only gone under the radar until now because she wasn’t in the media that prominently before the Nunes win. I feel like the more we hear from her, she’ll end up being seen as the Tito Ortiz/Brendan Schaub of the women’s game. She’s been mouthing off since the Rousey days, was talking bollocks about Shevchenko before getting subbed by her etc. 

Never been a fan but, to be honest, and it’s not even her fault, one of the most grating things about her is the way people are suddenly acting like she was always gonna beat Nunes and she’s unstoppable now. It was a great win but before that what had she done? Now everyone’s a believer in her. MMA fans can be the most fickle, fairweather bunch of divs. And you just know if Nunes goes in and obliterates her this time they’ll quickly switch on the whole thing again and say Pena just got lucky in the first fight.

It just feels weird to me now Nunes is being talked about like she’s some bum now. After the run she was on, the names she beat and the way she fought for years, she looks bad one time and she’s getting dismissed like she’s shite. It’s like people were just waiting for her to finally lose so they could put the boot in. And it’s odd because she seems a nice enough person and she’s been far from boring to watch in the cage. Yet the turn against her since losing to Pena has been pretty harsh, I think. 

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Maybe but fans turning on her for that and one bad loss is still weird. She was talking retirement even before the Megan Anderson fight and said she’d been thinking about it for a while. Maybe she’s been getting burnt out or disinterested. The way she lost to Pena should’ve reignited something there though. Losing like that has to light a spark. If she looks bad again maybe it is over. Just weird how she seemed to drop off a cliff overnight.

Then again, looking back over her last few fights, maybe she’d been fading for longer than it seems. Since she stopped Cyborg and Holm in 2018/19, you could argue she hasn’t really looked quite the same scary force she once was. She went the distance with Germaine De Randamie and I remember GDR actually having spells of success in that one. Then she went 5 rounds with Felicia Spencer, who’s tough but nothing special. Then submitted Megan Anderson quick but, as much as I like her, Anderson’s just not that good and only got the shot because Nunes was running out of challengers. I guess because she was still winning it kind of went unnoticed, and the flashy sub on Anderson might’ve masked it as well, but maybe she was slowing down already the last few years. And the Pena fight was just the one that finally got her. I know I dislike Pena but I’m not taking all the credit away from her. She still had to weather Nunes’ storm and a lot of women have folded under that. Fair play. But if Nunes was already on the decline, the loss kind of makes more sense to me. It’s the most logical explanation anyway. Because there was really no reason to think Pena would have what it took to end Nunes’ reign going in. Looking at their track records, their styles, the lot, there was no logic to picking Pena. In combat sports more than anything, timing is everything. Pena might’ve just caught Nunes at the right time.

I’m giving myself doubts now. When this rematch was announced I instinctively thought ‘Nunes is gonna make this right this time’. Surely she wouldn’t have the worst day at the office ever again, twice in a row. But if she is slowing down, I don’t know. And Pena’s gonna be even more confident now. I’m still favouring Nunes but I’m not as confident in it the more I think about it. And her leaving American Top Team concerns me. I could be wrong. Maybe her training had become stagnant there and a change in environment could be just the shake up she needed. But a change of camp after a loss always feels a bit desperate to me.

It’s an intriguing one for sure. I’m not a big fan of immediate rematches but this one is actually quite fascinating. Plus it’s women’s 135, hardly like there’s a line of interesting contenders waiting. Nunes deserves it as well given her reign as champ. I’m actually looking forward to it more than when I did the opening post. 

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Most women were probably defeated before they got in the cage too. Fighting Nunes must be an intimidating task. She carries more power than most women, she's nasty, and most are dealing with the pressures of their first title fight. To this day, Megan Anderson remains the most terrified fighter i've ever seen get into the cage.

If there's one thing you have to Pena credit for, its in her self-belief, she went after it. That belief will go a long way in an MMA fight if it doesn't wind you up in trouble.

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