On Saturday night at American Airlines Center in Dallas, the moves paid off as Nunes reclaimed the UFC welterweight title she lost to Peña in December, and made a unanimous decision (50-45, 50-44, 50-43) in the UFC main event 277 and claim a piece of MMA history.
“Lioness, if you don’t get the prey the first time, I’ve better set up the traps and I know I’ll get it the second time,” Nunes said afterward, holding her little daughter in the ring.
Nunes, whose 15th UFC win is the most in promotion history, won her 10th title – the most for women in UFC history and 5th overall.
Nunes left Peña bloodied as she struggled to thwart Nunes’ change to Southpaw position, with right hand and foot forward, then led with right strokes followed by a left hook of the right. She said this, along with her wrestling style in subsequent rounds, was key.
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“The main thing was my southern cone,” Nunes said. “I know I was going to join her tonight. I knew she wouldn’t be able to adapt to that. She’s not a striker. … She was so confused. I’m not good yet with my Southerner. I told my coach, ‘I’ll see how I feel.'” I tried tonight, and I felt I’m fine.”
Using the stance, Nunes (22-5 MMA, 15-2 UFC) knocked down Peña (11-5, 7-3) several times at first and then defeated Peña with wrestling moves. She defeated Peña three times in the second round, a UFC women’s record for knockouts in a tour, according to ESPN stats and info. Peña has led 85-60 in big hits and has taken it six times in eight attempts.
After the fight, Peña headed to receive medical attention for the facial cuts, according to UFC president Dana White.
“Juliana has a hunk missing from her forehead,” he said at a UFC 277 post-fight press conference. “She’s going to see a plastic surgeon now, she’s going to take a while to heal, and then I don’t know. She’s pretty banged up tonight. It was like five or six knockouts in the first two rounds. She got hurt. She needs to take some time off, relax, spend time with her daughter then we go from there.”
Nunes became the first to regain the UFC bantamweight title after losing it, but it came at a cost. Her right eye was almost swollen and she used crutches to get to the press conference after the fight.
“I thought she was totally dominant,” White said. “There were five knockouts in the first two rounds. There is a huge difference between submissions and knockouts. Can’t even compare. Juliana is tough as her nails and her will to win is second to none. She wanted to win. I think as much as Amanda was dominant – and she was dominant tonight – I wasn’t I think it was close in any shape, shape, or form. It was a complete shutdown.”
Nunes, who is planning to get some rest and visit a Brazilian family she hasn’t seen in years due to the coronavirus pandemic, called it “the best day ever” and added that “the best thing I did was make my own gym. In my gym, I feel safe. I feel like I can grow and develop.”