Does Julianna Pena deserve a title shot after UFC 257?

This past weekend at UFC 257, Julianna Pena (10-4) took on Sara McMann (12-6) on the prelims. After losing the first round, Pena performed very well on Saturday night and ended up pulling off a rear-naked choke in the third round.

It was a big win for Julianna Pena and the win put her at sixth in the UFC‘s bantamweight rankings. However, the headlines weren’t surrounding the performance. The headlines were around the post-fight interview.

After the fight was over, Pena called out the UFC‘s two-division champion, Amanda Nunes (20-4). Pena said that Nunes was ducking her and that a fight between the two women needed to be made.

Nunes immediately clapped back on Twitter saying, “Ducking? You couldn’t even make yourself a contender for me.” The notion that Amanda Nunes is ducking Julianna Pena is completely ridiculous and the callout didn’t make sense from that perspective.

I completely understand calling out the UFC champion. However, the reality is that Nunes has never dodged Pena. In fact, Nunes is correct in that Pena has lost both of her title eliminator fights that would have earned her a shot. So after her win at UFC 257, does Julianna Pena deserve the next shot?

A UFC title shot for Pena?

The simple answer her is no. Julianna Pena’s win at UFC 257 does not warrant a title shot. We can’t forget the fact that Pena was just put to sleep by Germaine De Randamie (10-4) a few months ago.

Julianna Pena is 2-2 since 2016 and neither one of those wins came against top five competition. That resume doesn’t warrant a shot at the UFC bantamweight title and the greatest of all time in Amanda Nunes.

For Pena to get a title shot, she’s going to need to beat someone in the UFC’s top five. However, I will say that nobody in front of her would make for a more compelling matchup against Nunes.

Nunes has already defeated de Randamie twice and she knocked out Holly Holm (14-5). The two most compelling contenders outside of Holm and de Randamie are Pena and Aspen Ladd (9-1). Ladd is currently recovering from a knee injury.

I think the best play for the UFC is to pair up Holm against de Randamie for the second time. In addition, they should book Pena against Aspen Ladd. The winner of Ladd and Pena would provide a compelling new challenger for Amanda Nunes. However, to be clear, Julianna Pena shouldn’t jump the line.

In the UFC’s women’s divisions, who will be a champion after 2021?

This week I’ve gone through all of the men’s divisions in the UFC. From flyweight to heavyweight predicting who will walk out of 2021 with a title around their waste. Well, what about the women’s divisions?

The UFC‘s four women’s are currently controlled by three of the very best fighters in the world. Amanda Nunes (20-4), Valentina Shevchenko (20-3), and Weili Zhang (21-1) stand on top of the four divisions.

Nunes reigns over the UFC‘s featherweight and bantamweight divisions. Shevchenko is the queen of the bantamweights while Weili Zhang is the champion at strawweight which is the best division in women’s MMA.

This year there plans to be a number of exciting female matchups in the UFC. As mentioned, the strawweight division is completely stacked and there is the potential of some super fights between champions in 2021.

The UFC is planning for a massive year in 2021 and the women figure to be a big part of that. The question then becomes, will any of the current champions lose their crowns in 2021?

UFC champions after 2021

Strawweight – Weili Zhang

In my opinion, the UFC champion that has the highest chance of losing in 2021 is Weili Zhang when it comes to the women. That’s not a knock on her at all, but it’s more of a testament to how good the strawweight division is.

That said, I believe that she will still be the UFC strawweight champion after 2021 is over. Weili only fought once in 2020 and it was the fight of the year. She defended her title against arguably the greatest strawweight of all time, Joanna Jedrzejczyk (16-4).

At UFC 248, Weili showed me something we hadn’t seen from her yet. She showed that she can really dig down deep in a tough fight. Joanna pushed her to the limit, but Weili was game for five rounds and won a split decision.

Her first test of 2021 will likely come against Rose Namajunas (9-4). Thug Rose is the number one contender, but there have been hurdles in making the fight. Should it get made, I’m expecting another fantastic matchup.

However, in the end, I think that Weili Zhang is just the better fighter overall. If she loses in 2021, I really don’t believe it’ll be at strawweight. Her only loss would be if she moves up to take on the UFC’s flyweight champion.

Flyweight – Valentina Shevchenko

You can make the argument that the best female fighter in the UFC is Valentina Shevchenko. Of course as long as Amanda Nunes is the champ-champ, she will hold onto the number one spot in the pound-for-pound rankings.

However, you can make the argument that Shevchenko actually defeated Nunes the last time they fought at UFC 215. Nunes won by split decision in a fight that I actually scored for Shevchenko.

The reality is, there is no one at 125 pounds that I see posing a threat to Shevchenko. Her first title defense of 2021 will come against Jessica Andrade (21-8). The former strawweight champion made her flyweight debut with a bang in October.

She was able to stop Katlyn Chookagian in the first round with body shots. Andrade definitely has the power to make it interesting, however, I just don’t see her being able to hang with the overall skillset of Shevchenko.

Bantamweight & Featherweight – Amanda Nunes

This is another easy one. Outside of Valentina Shevchenko, who can really challenge Amanda Nunes in 2021? She’s defending her featherweight title against Megan Anderson (11-4) at UFC 259.

Anderson should give Nunes some interesting challenges given her height and range. However, does anyone really believe that Megan Anderson will be the one to dethrone Amanda Nunes?

Nunes is on another level from most of her competition. She is the greatest female fighter to ever live. Nunes holds two victories over Shevchenko, she’s knocked out Cris Cyborg, she’s knocked out Ronda Rousey, she’s knocked out Holly Holm, and I could go on.

It is truly something special to watch her compete inside the octagon. 2021 is going to be interesting in that I could see the UFC pairing Nunes and Shevchenko up a third time. The only way Nunes or Shevchenko lose in 2021 is if they fight each other.

Honestly, I don’t know how that fight would go. Of course you’d have to favor Nunes. However, Shevchenko has all the skill to be able to hang with her. It’s a superfight that I desperately want to see in 2021.

UFC rebooks Petr Yan – Aljamain Sterling

The UFC has finalized the much anticipated bantamweight title fight between Petr Yan (15-1) and Aljamain Sterling (19-3). MMA Junkie was the first outlet to report that the sides had finalized the new fight date.

The UFC bantamweight title fight will officially take place on March 6th at UFC 259. The PPV card is turning out to be quite the spectacle as the promotion has already booked Adesanya – Blachowicz and Nunes – Anderson for UFC 259.

Now, we get to add Yan and Sterling to the mix. Yan has looked untouchable since he made his octagon debut back in 2018. He’s gone on a seven fight run that has led him to the undisputed bantamweight title.

After Henry Cejudo (16-2) vacated the bantamweight title after UFC 249, the UFC decided to pair Yan up against the former featherweight champion, Jose Aldo (29-7). Yan was tested early on, but in the end, he dominated and finished Aldo in the fifth round.

It turned out to be a devastating performance as Yan captured the bantamweight championship. Yan looks like he’s going to be incredibly tough to beat, however, his opponent on March 6th seems very much up to the task.

Sterling’s UFC title shot

There is nobody in the UFC that is more deserving of a title shot than Aljamain Sterling. Sterling was arguably the top bantamweight contender alongside Yan prior to the Aldo fight.

However, prior to Cejudo fighting Dominick Cruz (22-3) at UFC 249, Cejudo was supposed to fight Aldo. Aldo couldn’t travel due to the pandemic so Cruz stepped in. Despite Sterling being ranked higher, Aldo got the title shot against Yan because he had been promised one previously.

Sterling had to wait and fight Cory Sandhagen (13-2). Sandhagen looked like he was going to be incredibly tough to beat, however, Sterling went right through him and choked him unconscious in less than 90 seconds.

For his win, Sterling was given a title shot against Yan in December. However, Yan had to pull out of the fight and the UFC has been working on a replacement date. They have found one on an incredibly stacked card on March 6th.

Three Superfights the UFC can make in 2021

Conor McGregor, UFC

2021 is promising to be a big year for the UFC. The world’s leader in mixed martial arts had a very good 2020 despite the global pandemic. Now, the promotion is poised to capitalize and have an even bigger 2021.

They are starting their year with an incredible three-fight run on Fight Island ending with the rematch between Conor McGregor (22-4) and Dustin Poirier (26-6, 1 NC) at UFC 257. The UFC is starting out the year with a bang.

There are so many big matchups that the UFC is already talking about booking. You have Israel Adesanya (20-0) moving up to challenge Jan Blachowicz (27-8) at UFC 259. Jon Jones (26-1, 1 NC) is moving up to heavyweight to go for the UFC heavyweight title.

These are fights that are already set in stone. However, there are some major superfights that the UFC could attempt to make in 2021. These fights would depend on the fighters winning early in the year, but if they do, there’s a big opportunity for the promotion.

UFC Superfights in 2021

Khabib Nurmagomedov – Conor McGregor 2

Dana White recently said that the UFC will attempt to make this fight happen should McGregor win at UFC 257. What makes this fight hard to pull off is getting Khabib Nurmagomedov (29-0) to agree to it.

White is planning on talking with Khabib on Fight Island about his future. Khabib retired after he defended his title at UFC 254, however, White said that he’s going to try to convince him to come back.

Should McGregor win in January, there’s not a bigger fight the UFC could make in terms of dollar signs. McGregor is the biggest star in the sport, but Khabib is a big star on his own. The two men hate each other and a brawl ensued after their first fight.

In my opinion, they are going to get the chance to make this happen. I believe that McGregor will win at UFC 257, and then eyes will turn to the talks between White and Khabib. If Khabib agrees to it, it might be the biggest UFC PPV of all time.

Jon Jones – Israel Adesanya

There is no questioning that Khabib and McGregor would be the biggest PPV seller. However, the biggest superfight the UFC could make between two fighters in 2021 is the potential matchup between Jon Jones and Israel Adesanya.

Jones is considered to be the greatest fighter that the UFC has ever seen. Adesanya is looked at as the new-breed who is on his way to becoming the UFC’s biggest superstar. Stylebender is attempting to become a two-division champion at UFC 259.

These two men have long talked about fighter each other. Jones is currently preparing to fight for the heavyweight title in the summer. If Jones is able to win and Adesanya is able to win at UFC 259, the two men would control three titles.

There has never been a potential superfight where the champions of three combined divisions would face off. Combine that with the personal animosity and you have the makings for a massive fight that could take place at the end of 2021.

Amanda Nunes – Valentina Shevchenko 3

This might not be a superfight that everyone wants to see, but it’s sure one I want to see. UFC two-division champion, Amanda Nunes (20-4), taking on the UFC flyweight champion, Valentina Shevchenko (20-3), for a third time.

Both of these champions are so dominant in their divisions that nobody truly questions whether they will win their next fight or not. The debate is more centered around how they will win their fights.

These two have fought twice before with Nunes winning both. However, their fight at UFC 215 in 2017 was razor close. I’ve watched the fight a few times and I can see the argument for the judges giving it to either fighter.

The lack of challenges in their divisions is truly a testament to the dominance of the two champions. Their next challenges are set as Nunes will take on Megan Anderson while Shevchenko will fight former strawweight champion, Jessica Andrade.

Should both win, I think the UFC should seriously think about the trilogy. It would make all the sense in the world, and I don’t think there are UFC fans out there who would complain about seeing these two greats fight one more time.

UFC: State of the Amanda Nunes divisions entering 2021

As we get ready to enter 2021, the UFC‘s bantamweight and featherweight divisions are still controlled by the GOAT, Amanda Nunes (20-4). Nunes has held both titles since December of 2018 when she knocked out Cris Cyborg at UFC 232.

Since making her UFC debut back in 2013, Nunes has gone 13-1 with her lone loss coming to Cat Zingano. That fight occurred when Nunes will still coming into her own inside the octagon.

After that loss, she’s hardly looked human. Only Valentina Shevchenko and Germaine de Randamie have even been competitive. Every one else has been destroyed by Nunes inside a UFC octagon.

In 2020, we only saw the two-division champion once. She defended her featherweight title against Felicia Spencer back at UFC 250. It was one of the more one-sided title fights you will ever see in the UFC.

Nunes was scheduled to face Megan Anderson (11-4) at UFC 256, but she had to pull out of the fight. The fight has been rescheduled and Megan Anderson will get her shot at the two-division champion at UFC 259.

UFC Bantamweight & Featherweight Overview

Nunes has said that she plans on being very active in 2021. She wants to defend both of her titles and her current plan is to fight at bantamweight after this first title defense against Megan Anderson at featherweight.

After Anderson, it’s not clear on what’s next for Nunes at featherweight. The UFC has been trying to acquire talent for that division, however, they still don’t have enough to even fill out the rankings.

Bantamweight is a different story. The clear number one contender in the division is de Randamie. Germaine de Randamie made her UFC debut back in 2013 and she has only been defeated twice in the octagon.

Both of those losses came to Amanda Nunes. Last December, the two fought at UFC 245. Nunes clearly won the fight, but de Randamie showed that she has the ability to stand up with the champion. De Randamie just fought and put Julianna Pena to sleep with a choke in October.

A fight that I could see the UFC doing is the rematch between de Randamie and Holly Holm. Holm is the former bantamweight champion and she’s won two straight. Her last performance against Irene Aldana was sensational.

Holm and de Randamie fought for the featherweight title back in 2017 with de Randamie edging that one out. I could see the UFC putting those two together in a title eliminator while Nunes defends at featherweight.

While these divisions won’t see a lot of fresh faces and new contenders, it’s still going to be fun watching Nunes continue her UFC reign in 2021. Maybe someone can pull off a miracle and dethrone her. Time will tell on that one.

UFC rebooks Amanda Nunes – Megan Anderson

The UFC has finalized and booked the women’s featherweight title fight that was supposed to take place a couple of weeks ago. Promotion officials confirmed with ESPN’s Brett Okamoto that Amanda Nunes (20-4) will be taking on Megan Anderson (11-4).

The UFC featherweight title fight will take place on March 6th according to promotion officials. The fight was originally supposed to take place at UFC 256. However, Nunes had to pull out of the fight a few weeks prior.

For the champion, she will be looking to successfully defend her title for the second time. Back in June at UFC 250, Nunes defended her featherweight crown for the first time against top contender, Felicia Spencer.

While Spencer showed incredible toughness and heart, it was a one-sided beating for five rounds. Nunes once again showed why she’s the very best the UFC has to offer with her complete dominance over Spencer.

Nunes is the lone active double-champ in the UFC. She holds both the featherweight and bantamweight titles. Her first defense of the year is at featherweight, but she plans on then dropping back down to 135 pounds to defend the other title.

Can Anderson become UFC champion?

Megan Anderson is going to have her hands full on March 6th. She will try to hand Nunes her first loss in the UFC since 2014. Since that last loss, Nunes has hardly looked human with only Valentina Shevchenko pushing her to the limit.

Anderson is coming into March 6th having won three of her last four in the UFC. Her lone loss came to Felicia Spencer. Outside of that, she’s finished all three of her wins in the first round.

She started with a first round stoppage over Cat Zingano then proceeded to finish Zarah Fairn Dos Santos and Norma Dumont. In her last two fights, she’s shown off her submission skills and her knockout power.

Anderson is going to be a massive underdog to the UFC champion. However, she does have some physical attributes that will give the champion a different look. Anderson is very long at six feet tall.

Her long limbs should allow her to keep her distance if she strikes efficiently. In addition to that, she’s very good on the ground with her long legs. That said, it’s going to be a massive challenge trying to overcome the UFC’s GOAT. March 6th should be a good one at featherweight.

BREAKING: Amanda Nunes – Megan Anderson at UFC 256 is off

The return of the greatest female mixed martial artist of all time is going to have to wait. Per ESPN’s Brett Okamoto, UFC 256 is losing the title fight between Amanda Nunes (20-4) and Megan Anderson (11-4). The fight was expected to headline the card.

Nunes was getting ready to make her UFC return after she became a mother a short time ago. Nunes took some time off after she successfully defended her featherweight crown at UFC 250 in an absolute destruction of Felicia Spencer.

The Lioness seemed ready to be very active over the next year recently stating that she will be competing between 145 and 135 defending both UFC titles. Now, it appears that the world is going to have to wait a little longer for the return of the UFC champion.

This is a tough break for the Australian challenger, Megan Anderson. Anderson has won back-to-back fights to earn the shot at the UFC champion. She has a skillset that would pose some interesting challenges for Nunes.

Per Megan Anderson’s Twitter account, it appears that Nunes was injured which is why the fight has fallen through. She stated that the promotion is working to book the fight for early next year. However, there is no date as of now.

UFC 256 Outlook

UFC 256 has gone through several changes. Originally, the card was set to be headlined by the welterweight title fight between Kamaru Usman and Gilbert Burns. However, that fight fell through after Usman needed more time to heal from his last fight.

Then, the UFC announced that Petr Yan would defend his bantamweight title against Aljamain Sterling. That put the card back to two title fights. However, now we’ve just learned that the headlining fight between Nunes and Anderson is off.

The good news is that the UFC does still have one title fight on the card. The bad news is that the promotion is going to have to scramble to book a quality co-main event or a new main event for the December 12 PPV.

State of the bantamweight division after UFC Fight Island 4

UFC Fight Island 4 was a big night for the women’s bantamweight division. On the main card you had four of the top six contenders in the bantamweight division in action. The champion, Amanda Nunes, had her eyes on the action on Saturday.

In the main event of UFC Fight Island 4, Holly Holm (14-5) took on Irene Aldana (12-6). A fight that was being hyped up as a competitive striking match proved to be anything but. Instead of a competitive fight, Holm completely dominated Aldana over the course of five rounds.

The former UFC bantamweight champion made a big statement on Saturday. Earlier in the evening the top ranked bantamweight contender, Germaine de Randamie (10-4) was also in action. The former featherweight champion took on Juliana Pena (9-4).

This fight proved to be much more competitive than the main event. Both ladies had clearly won a round entering the third in final round. Pena tried to be aggressive, but she ended up getting caught in a guillotine choke. The former UFC champion tightened the choke and put Pena out.

It was a big night for the top two contenders in the bantamweight division. Both de Randamie and Holm were very impressive, however, there’s not a clear number one contender after Saturday. However, there appears to be a clear path for what’s next.

What should the UFC do?

The greatest women’s fighter of all time, Amanda Nunes, will be defending her featherweight title later this year at UFC 256. The double champion is expected to drop back down to defend her bantamweight title at some point in 2021.

With Nunes planning on returning, the path for the UFC is pretty clear. The promotion needs to pair up de Randamie and Holm again after Saturday night. These two ladies have history that dates back to UFC 208.

Holm and de Randamie headlined that PPV which crowned the first UFC women’s featherweight champion. De Randamie won on the scorecards, but it was a fight that was littered with controversy. De Randamie hit Holm after the bell following multiple rounds.

While de Randamie won three rounds, many believed she should’ve had a point taken away which would have made the fight a draw. Instead, de Randamie walked out as the UFC‘s featherweight champion. However, nobody felt great about the result.

There has never been a more perfect time to run this fight back. These two are the top ranked contenders in the bantamweight division, and it’s going to take some time before Nunes is ready to defend the title. The winner of the rematch would present a clear top challenger for the GOAT.

Germaine de Randamie puts Juliana Pena to sleep at UFC Fight Island 4

One of the more anticipated matchups of UFC Fight Island 4 was the bantamweight contest between Germaine de Randamie (10-4) and Juliana Pena (9-4). De Randamie was looking to bounce back after her title loss to Amanda Nunes at UFC 245.

The fight started out very well for the former UFC featherweight champion. De Randamie was doing a really good job in the first round of stifling Pena from distance. De Randamie seemed to hurt Pena a few times in the exchanges.

However, a very game Pena just ate every shot de Randamie threw her at her in the first round. In the second round, Pena was able to land a takedown early on. After that, Pena controlled most of the second round from the top position.

However, late in the round, a scramble found de Randamie on top. Surprisingly, de Randamie almost locked up a choke at the end of the round. It really showed off the evolution of the former UFC featherweight champion.

In the third and final round of the fight, Pena tried to put a lot of pressure on de Randamie. About halfway through the round, Pena landed a takedown, but landed right into a guillotine choke. De Randamie tightened the choke and put Pena to sleep. A massive win for the former UFC champ.

What’s next after UFC Fight Island 4

In my opinion, it’s very clear that de Randamie is the top contender in the bantamweight division. However, it’s going to be hard for de Randamie to get another title shot soon after just losing to Amanda Nunes in December.

Not only did she lose, but it was the second time that she has been defeated by the UFC champ. There are not a lot of viable challengers out there for Amanda Nunes. However, de Randamie is one despite the fact that she’s lost twice to her.

I think a reasonable next step for de Randamie would be fighting the winner of tonight’s main event. I think paring her against the winner of that fight would establish a clear next challenger for Amanda Nunes’ UFC bantamweight title.

UFC: Amanda Nunes to fight Megan Anderson

The greatest female fighter in MMA history will be making her return in December. Per ESPN’s Brett Okamoto, Amanda Nunes (20-4) will be returning at UFC 256. She will be defending her featherweight crown against Megan Anderson (11-4).

Nunes was rumored to be considering retirement after her last title defense at UFC 250, but with this announcement, it’s clear she’s not going anywhere. Anderson made the most sense as her next challenger, and she’s getting the shot.

Return of the UFC’s GOAT

When thinking of the greatest of all time in women’s MMA, there’s only one name that comes to mind, and that’s Amanda Nunes. It’s one of those questions where there really is not a debate.

Any female fighter that you could say is better or was better, she’s likely fought and defeated. She completely destroyed Ronda Rousey and Cris Cyborg in under a minute. Valentina Shevchenko gave her competitive fights, but still lost twice.

In her last fight at UFC 250, Nunes showed that she’s just head and shoulders ahead of her competition completely dismantling Felicia Spenser over five rounds. The beating was so bad that many begged Spencer’s corner to stop the fight.

Nunes is the only female fighter in UFC history to hold two belts simultaneously. She’s on an eleven fight winning streak and her only competitive fights came against Valentina Shevchenko who’s arguably the second greatest fighter in the world.

This is a massive step up in competition for Anderson. Anderson is riding a two fight winning streak and does pose some interesting challenges for Nunes given her size.

Anderson has good striking and decent submissions. She is going to have to come with her A+ game if she wants this fight to even be competitive. She’s expected to be a massive underdog to the UFC‘s queen.