Houston the front-runner to host UFC 265 per Dana White

It looks like the UFC will be heading back to Texas in August. At least, that’s how it’s looking right now. This week, Dana White sat down with Yahoo Sports’ Kevin Iole and they talked about all the happenings with the promotion.

Of course, one of the topics that came up was the UFC heavyweight division. Currently, the promotion is trying to finalize the first title defense for the new heavyweight champion, Francis Ngannou (16-3).

Ngannou knocked out Stipe Miocic (20-4) at UFC 260 to capture the heavyweight title. Prior to that night, it was understood that the winner would fight Jon Jones (26-1, 1 NC) is a super-fight over the summer.

However, financial negotiations never got off to a hot start between Jones and the UFC. Now, it doesn’t appear that Jones is going to be fighting anytime soon. With that, the promotion moved to the top contender, Derrick Lewis (25-7, 1 NC).

Lewis is one of the more popular fighters in the UFC and he holds a decision win over the current champion. He’s won four fights in a row and he definitely deserves the next crack at the heavyweight title. Because Lewis is next, the promotion is honing in on Houston, Texas hosting UFC 265.

UFC 265 – Home Field Advantage

Now, the UFC hasn’t finalized the rematch between Ngannou and Lewis. However, the word is that the fight is getting pretty close to the goal line. The promotion is planning on the heavyweight title fight headlining UFC 265.

Currently, Amanda Nunes (21-4) – Julianna Pena (10-4) is the lone title fight on the August PPV. However, it appears that the promotion is going to have the heavyweight title on the line in the main event.

Derrick Lewis is a native of Houston and he got a massive pop when shown on screen at UFC 262 earlier this month. It looks like Lewis is going to get a little home field advantage for his second crack at UFC gold.

Of course, this situation is still fluid at the moment. For one, the promotion hasn’t finalized the fight and two, UFC 265 hasn’t been announced for Houston. However, the promotion is looking to lock up the location soon and my guess is the fight will be finalized just before.

BREAKING: UFC books Amanda Nunes – Julianna Pena

Amanda Nunes (21-4) is officially set for her first UFC bantamweight title defense since December 2019. Dana White told ESPN’s Brett Okamoto today that The Lioness is returning to bantamweight in August to defend her title against Julianna Pena (10-4).

You can imagine that this matchup at UFC 265 is going to have a ton of heat behind it. Back at UFC 257, Pena defeated Sara McMann by third round fear-naked choke. After the fight was over, she started calling for a fight with Nunes.

Pena stated that the UFC‘s two-division champion had been ducking her for years. The callouts were odd to me considering where Pena was in the division. The Venezuelan Vixen is just 2-2 in her last four and was put to sleep against Germaine de Randamie last October.

Nevertheless, the trash talk seemed to work and the UFC decided to give Pena the fight. If the current rankings hold, Julianna Pena will enter the cage in August as the sixth ranked bantamweight.

UFC 265 Grudge Match

Amanda Nunes is the greatest of all time and let’s be clear, Julianna Pena really doesn’t deserve this shot at UFC 265. Her resume doesn’t exactly make her the number one contender. Especially considering the top contender just put her to sleep six months ago.

However, Pena called out the champion and that’s what she’s getting. Nunes has defeated the best the UFC has to offer at both 135 and 145 pounds. Pena is one of the few bantamweights that Nunes hasn’t had the privilege of fighting yet.

Perhaps that had a lot to do with this booking as well. Either way, it should be a fun buildup to UFC 265. The last time we saw Nunes was last month when she demolished Megan Anderson at UFC 259.

The win was Nunes’ second straight defense of her featherweight title. Now, Nunes will return to the division that made her a champion for the first time. This should be a fun matchup when August rolls around.

UFC: Is Julianna Pena justifiably confident or extremely delusional?

Last weekend at UFC 259, Amanda Nunes (21-4) successfully defended her featherweight title. The greatest fighter in women’s MMA history furthered her legacy by demolishing Megan Anderson in the first round.

After her latest title defense, Nunes is planning on dropping back down to bantamweight to defend her other UFC title. Waiting for her at 135 pounds is Julianna Pena (10-4). Pena has been extremely vocal about wanting a shot at Nunes.

After Pena’s win over Sara McMann, she got on the microphone and called out Amanda Nunes. She said that the UFC‘s two-division champion had been dodging her for years and it was time for the two of them to meet inside the octagon.

These comments seemed to amuse Nunes and most of the MMA community. After Nunes won on Saturday night, we learned that Holly Holm was out of her upcoming fight against Julianna Pena. That fight was being looked at as a potential title eliminator.

After that news dropped, Julianna Pena took to social media to continue her callouts of the UFC champion. Pena also appeared on Ariel Helwani’s MMA show where she continued to callout Nunes and made some rather interesting remarks.

Will the UFC book the grudge match?

Pena told Ariel Helwani, “She knows stylistically I’m the worst matchup for her. Let’s go back to the Cat Zingano fight. She lost, she curled up the fetal position and the referee had to pull Cat off of her. I beat Cat. I’m the best wrestler in the division. She knows she’s gonna curl up in the fetal position (again).”

Strong words from Pena towards the UFC’s two-division champion. However, is her words just showing confidence or straight up delusion? To me, everything she said in this interview with Ariel Helwani came across as Chael Sonnen level delusional.

The fight she’s referencing was seven years ago before Nunes had a strength and conditioning program. Nunes hasn’t remotely gassed in a fight anytime in the last few years. In fact, she just beat Felicia Spencer for five consecutive rounds without breaking a sweat. There is no questioning the cardio of Amanda Nunes now.

I’ll give Pena credit for putting herself out there, but some of the things she says just make no sense at all. However, at the end of the day, this talk is likely going to get her a crack at the UFC title.

After UFC 259, Dana White hinted that Pena might be next for Nunes at 135 pounds. Despite being ranked sixth and having just lost to the top contender a few months ago, Pena’s ability to sell the fight might win out here.

I respect Julianna Pena for calling for this fight and wanting this fight. Not many people do, however, my advice to her would just be to be careful what you wish for. Personally, I hope this fight gets made because the women’s divisions could use some of this heat.

After another dominant title defense at UFC 259, what’s next for Amanda Nunes?

This past Saturday at UFC 259, Amanda Nunes (21-4) defended her featherweight championship against Megan Anderson (11-5). Anderson’s physical attributes figured to give Nunes a new challenge that she wasn’t used to.

Anderson is very tall and she has good range striking as well as submissions. However, were those attributes going to be enough was the big question. The answer was emphatically no at UFC 259.

From the opening bell, Anderson looked extremely tentative. Her eyes were very wide and she had the look of someone who didn’t want to be there. Shortly into the first round, Nunes landed her first big bomb.

Anderson took the shot well, but she looked horrified. Nunes pushed forward and landed more shots that had Anderson hurt badly. Anderson shot for a desperation takedown, but Nunes ended up on top.

Once the UFC‘s two-division champion was on top, it didn’t last long. From the top, Nunes was able to lock up an inverted triangle choke. She transitioned that to a triangle armbar and Anderson was forced to tap. A beautiful performance by Nunes.

What’s next after UFC 259?

After this performance, it appears that the featherweight division will be put on ice for a bit. The UFC has no plans to close the division with Nunes’ desire to remain a two-division champion, but there simply aren’t any challengers there at the moment.

With that, Nunes will return to bantamweight for her next fight. As of now, it appears that the UFC is leaning towards having former Ultimate Fighter winner, Julianna Pena (10-4) challenge Nunes. This is a decision that I don’t personally agree with.

While Pena has been vocal about her desire to fight Nunes, she’s ranked sixth in the division. She was put to sleep by Germaine De Randamie (10-4) just a few months ago. Having Pena jump the line just doesn’t make a lot of sense to me even if there’s beef there.

Trilogies or Beef?

In my opinion the two women I’m interested in Nunes fighting next at 135 is De Randamie and Valentina Shevchenko (20-3). Shevchenko and De Randamie both have something in common. They are unbeaten inside the UFC outside of their fights with Nunes.

Shevchenko is 0-2, but many (including myself) through that she actually won the second matchup with Nunes. The UFC’s flyweight champion is defending her title in April, and if she wins, we could see the trilogy.

However, out of the contenders at 135, nobody is more deserving than De Randamie. Yes, she’s lost to Nunes twice, but she’s beat everyone else at 135. She showed great improvement on the ground against Pena and she showed that she can strike with Nunes.

Ultimately, I believe the UFC will go down the path of Julianna Pena. Again, this is something I don’t agree with, but at the end of the day, the promotion does a lot of things that the media doesn’t agree with.

UFC: Holly Holm injured and out of Julianna Pena fight

A highly anticipated matchup in the UFC‘s women’s bantamweight division is off. We learned tonight that former bantamweight champion, Holly Holm (14-5), has sustained an injury and is out of her May matchup against Julianna Pena (10-4).

Julianna Pena tweeted out the news about the Holm injury as she was watching UFC 259. At this time, there is no word on what the injury is for Holly Holm or how long she will be out of action.

Holm had one of the best performances of her career last October on Fight Island. She looked better than ever and she appeared to be heading for another shot at the UFC bantamweight title.

To get that shot at the title, she was going to have to beat Pena. Pena is currently ranked sixth in the bantamweight division while Holm is ranked second. At this time, there are rumblings that the promotion might do something different with Pena, but this entire situation is fluid.

What will the UFC do?

Depending on the injury news, the UFC could always rebook this fight at a later date. If the injury is relatively mild and the fight can be pushed back to June, I could see the promotion moving in that direction.

However, if Holm is going to need more time, the promotion will likely look at different options for Julianna Pena. Pena has been very vocal about her desire to fight two-division champion, Amanda Nunes (21-4).

Nunes just defended her featherweight title at UFC 259. However, Pena has a steep uphill climb to convince the promotion to give her the next bantamweight title fight. The reason is because the number one ranked contender, Germaine de Randamie (10-4) just put her to sleep in October.

My guess is that De Randamie will likely get the next shot at the bantamweight title. Yes, she’s fought Nunes and lost twice already, but she’s the most deserving. You can’t give Pena that shot when she was just put to sleep by De Randamie.

I know she’s coming off of a loss, but perhaps a fight with Irene Aldana (12-6) could be next. Or even a shot against Aspen Ladd (9-1). Both contenders are ahead of Pena in the rankings and would make for quality opponents.

UFC books Holly Holm – Julianna Pena

The UFC has finalized a big matchup in the women’s bantamweight division. ESPN’s Brett Okamoto was the first to report that the promotion has finalized a matchup between former bantamweight champion, Holly Holm (14-5), and former Ultimate Fighter winner, Julianna Pena (10-4).

The fight will take place at a UFC Fight Night on May 8th. For Julianna Pena, she will be looking to pickup her second straight victory after getting choked out by Germaine de Randamie. Pena just fought at UFC 257 where she pulled off a submission victory over former title challenger, Sara McMann.

Of course, Pena made headlines with her callout after the fight. For some reason, Pena called out the UFC champion, Amanda Nunes, while suggesting that the champ had been ducking her. However, it’s worth noting that every time Pena has been in a title eliminator, she has lost.

Nevertheless, the callout fell on deaf ears because she was never going to get a title. However, she does get a big step up in competition and if she wins her next fight, it will be hard to deny her of a UFC title shot.

UFC title eliminator?

Pena isn’t getting a shot at the title next, but she is getting a crack at a former UFC champion. Holly Holm is one of the most decorated fighters in women’s combat sports. Holm is a former world champion in boxing and her career highlight came at UFC 193 when she knocked out Ronda Rousey to become UFC champion.

However, since that moment, Holm hasn’t been able to climb back to the top of the mountain. She lost her title in her first title defense to Miesha Tate. After that loss, she’s had three more shots at the title. Once at bantamweight and two shots at the title at featherweight. She came up short in all three attempts.

Holm defeated Raquel Pennington in early 2020 by decision, but the fight was not impressive. Many were wondering if Holm was past her prime. However, in her last performance, she looked better than ever. Holm took on the tough, Irene Aldana. She put on a clinic that night and almost got the finish.

It was a brilliant performance over five rounds by the former UFC champion. Now, Holm will go head-to-head with a hungry Julianna Pena. Considering where things are at in the bantamweight division, it would be difficult to deny the winner of the fight of a title shot. Perhaps Germaine de Randamie will get the next shot, but these two ladies are right behind that.

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.

UFC 257 Preview: Julianna Pena – Sara McMann

A UFC 257 matchup that’s been flying under the radar takes place tomorrow in the women’s bantamweight division. Two top ten bantamweights will battle it out as Julianna Pena (9-4) will take on the former Olympian, Sara McMann (12-5).

Sara McMann was an Olympic Silver Medalist in freestyle wrestling and she’s challenged for UFC gold during her tenure as a fighter. However, we haven’t seen much of her over the past couple of years.

Tomorrow night will be McMann’s third fight since the start of 2018. The former title challenger is looking to pickup her second consecutive win tomorrow night. The last time we saw McMann she won a decision over Lina Lansberg.

That fight took place almost a year ago exactly. McMann seems very focused and she seems intent on making another run towards a potential UFC title shot. She has a tough test in front of her if she wants to do that.

Former Ultimate Fighter winner, Julianna Pena, last fought back in October on Fight Island. The Venezuelan Vixen had a really good fight with top contender and former UFC champion, Germaine de Randamie.

Pena had some real bright spots in that fight. However, she was choked unconscious in the third round. Had Pena won that fight, she might’ve been the next in line to face Amanda Nunes for the bantamweight title.

UFC 257 Prediction

This is a very good matchup and a very intriguing one at UFC 257. I’m very curious to see how the grappling exchanges go in this fight. Of course, we all know McMann’s pedigree as a wrestler.

However, Pena is one of the better grapplers at 135 pounds. She’s good on top and she’s good on her back. She poses a number of challenges for McMann when it comes to the grappling.

On the feet, Pena is going to enjoy a reach advantage at UFC 257. For her to get the better of the striking, she’s going to need to keep the fight at range and strike long tomorrow night.

I think Pena is going to have the advantage there. For McMann to win tomorrow, she’s going to have to do some damage in the clinch and control Pena on the ground. While I think she’ll have her moments, I see Pena scoring more over three rounds and edging out a decision.

Prediction: Julianna Pena by Unanimous Decision

UFC Fight Island 4 Preview: Does Holly Holm have one more title run in her?

Tomorrow night, the UFC returns for their fourth fight night card on Fight Island. In the main event of the evening, we have a women’s bantamweight contest between former champion Holly Holm (13-5) and Irene Aldana (12-5).

Holm just turned 38 years old a couple of months ago, but the former UFC champion wants to capture gold one more time before she hangs it up. Saying this week at the media day that she wants to retire as UFC champion.

Irene Aldana is looking for the biggest win of her UFC career tomorrow night. Aldana is coming off of a huge knockout of Ketlen Vieira back in December last year at UFC 245. A win over Holm could give Aldana a shot Amanda Nunes.

Holm vs Aldana Prediction

This is a very intriguing matchup on paper for the UFC. Aldana has really crisp boxing skills which could give her some big moments on the feet. However, she’s going up against an elite striker who’s a former world champion in boxing.

Despite her credentials, Holm has been more of a point fighter in her UFC career. She has two highlight reel headkick knockouts, but outside of that, it’s usually not the most entertaining fight when Holm is in the cage.

She didn’t impress anyone back at UFC 246 in her rematch with Raquel Pennington. Holm used a lot of grappling and clinching to point her way to a decision. Even when she’s striking, she uses kicks to score points and keep range versus doing serious damage.

Aldana has very good pop in her hands. She can crack with the best of them at 135 pounds. Her knockout of Vieira is truly something special to watch as she used a jumping left hook to floor the previously unbeaten Brazilian.

Aldana is a very intriguing fighter in the division considering she’s won of the few that hasn’t fought Amanda Nunes yet. She’s 5-1 in her last six fights with the lone loss being a very close split decision loss to Raquel Pennington.

In this fight, I’m not really liking Aldana’s chances. While she certainly has the skills to get it done, I’m afraid she’s going to be out-pointed by Holm. Look for Holm to use her kicks and mix in some grappling to keep Aldana guessing and off her game.

Prediction: Holly Holm by Unanimous Decision

Rest of UFC Fight Island 4

There are some pretty decent fights on the UFC Fight Island 4 card. It’s not the sexiest card in the world, but there are some interesting fights. One of the earlier fights in the evening features the return of Carlos Condit (30-13) taking on Court McGee (19-9).

The fight I’m really looking forward to is the bantamweight contest between Germaine de Randamie (9-4) and Julianna Pena (9-3). To me this fight is better than the UFC Fight Island 4 main event. I think whoever wins the most impressively out of those two contests could be the next UFC title challenger.