This past weekend at UFC 269, Amanda Nunes (21-5) returned to the bantamweight division. She was defending her title against Julianna Pena (12-4) who most people weren’t giving a chance.
Admittedly, I was not giving Pena a chance on Saturday night. Nunes is considered to be the greatest female fighter of all time and for good reason. Once she hit her stride, she’s defeated all the greats at both 135 and 145 pounds.
Not only that, but nobody has been competitive with her. For that reason, UFC 269 was expected to be another cakewalk for the champion. However, it turned out to be anything but.
Nunes opened the fight strong and sat Pena down with a big jab and a leg kick. Immediately, I started thinking that it was just a matter of time before Nunes stopped Pena and retained her UFC title.
However, the second round proved to be a round that would be remembered forever. Pena stood toe to toe with Nunes on the feet and actually got the better of the champion. Pena’s jab was sharp and she was hurting Nunes.
Nunes looked incredibly discouraged and exhausted after these exchanges. She desperately clinched with Pena which resulted in Pena taking her down. Once there, Pena immediately took the back of Nunes.
Pena locked up a choke and Nunes tapped almost immediately. Julianna Pena shocked the world and became the UFC bantamweight champion.
What’s next after UFC 269?
I’m still stunned by the result days later while typing this out. I can’t believe that Amanda Nunes is no longer the UFC’s bantamweight champion and I’m sure she can’t believe it either.
When the shock is gone, the question then becomes what’s next? Well, the UFC had the plans mapped out for a Nunes win, but I don’t think they envisioned a Nunes loss.
Amanda Nunes has already made it clear what she wants next. The former UFC bantamweight champion has come out and said that she wants the rematch with Pena and that is what the promotion will move to make.
Had Nunes won, the plan was for the UFC to make the superfight with Kayla Harrison (12-0) at 145. However, the Nunes loss through a wrench into everything. While some might think this throws a wrench in the plans to sign Harrison, I think the UFC will push forward with those plans.
Now, the UFC can establish Harrison while Nunes prepares to rematch with Pena. Should Nunes run through Pena in a rematch, you can still build the superfight and chalk Nunes’ loss as being unprepared and overlooking Pena.
I expect the UFC to make the rematch pretty quickly perhaps around March or April. Don’t expect a big break before we see the rematch between the new champion and Nunes.