LAS VEGAS — Julianna Peña quietly danced in her nook as bantamweight champion Amanda Nunes made the prolonged stroll to the cage for their title fight Saturday within the co-critical tournament of UFC 269 at provided-out T-Cell Area.
For added than 5 years, Peña had waited for this 2nd since Nunes acquired the title at UFC 200 in 2016 by crushing her mentor and terminate buddy, Miesha Tate. She’d believed against all odds that she’d acquire the job performed.
Earlier than she even became as soon as within the UFC, she heard UFC president Dana White became as soon as at Syndicate MMA in Las Vegas. She caught a cab and cornered White, whose sons had been in a jiu-jitsu class.
“She launched herself and told me she became as soon as going to fight for me and change trusty into a world champion,” White stated.
On Saturday, the 2nd finally arrived. She became as soon as a large underdog. At BetMGM, Nunes became as soon as a -1000 favorite, with Peña closing at +625.
Nunes walked to the Octagon because the broadly acclaimed most titillating fighter in girls’s MMA history. Nonetheless there had been no nerves, no doubts, no worries for Peña.
“I became as soon as cool, restful and composed,” Peña stated. “I became as soon as cool as a cucumber.”
She became as soon as buoyed by the increase of her group and coaches, in particular head coach Rick Miniature. In 2019 in Nunes’ outdated bantamweight title protection against Germaine de Randamie, Miniature became as soon as looking out at.
He told her, “It’s likely you’ll well beat her.”
After which, terminate to 2 years to the day later, she did. Peña submitted Nunes with a rear bare choke at 1: 02 of the 2nd after besting her in a toe-to-toe slugfest, stunning her promise to White and ending a 13-year-mature dream.
Unless she defeated Nunes on Saturday, Peña hadn’t acquired motivate-to-motivate fights since taking her 2nd in a row by beating Cat Zingano at UFC 200 on the Nunes-Tate undercard.
The victory became as soon as a reminder of why this sport is so recent. The rest can happen at any time.
“One of the most sizable issues about this sport, what makes this sport so wonderful, is that as soon as somebody is so mountainous of an underdog [can win],” White stated. “How many cases get we been at these occasions the build when the fight’s over, everybody’s taking a gape at every completely different fancy, ‘Holy s!’”
The cardboard confirmed the agony and ecstasy of the game. As Peña climbed to the head of the cage and raised her fingers in exultation — the first time she’s ever performed that, she stated — Nunes became as soon as unfortunate in her nook.
And comparatively later, Dustin Poirier became as soon as submitted within the third round of the major tournament, losing his gentle-weight title venture when he tapped to Charles Oliveira’s rear bare choke.
Poirier had a sizable first round and felt he became as soon as about to change into the new champion. A few moments later, he became as soon as looking out to articulate up the pieces.
“I’m going to proceed to envision out to enact correct and be an even bigger particular person each day,” a choked up Poirier stated.
Peña adopted him to the put up-fight data conference and on no tale stopped smiling. Her left be taught about became as soon as terminate to closed, swollen as a results of the fierce exchanges she’d had moments earlier with Nunes.
The fight became as soon as the first time that two mothers had met for a UFC championship, but Peña grew to change into the first fighter who had given birth to take a belt.
“The UFC of route must make a new belt for me and it’s bought to be ‘Baddest Mother on the Planet,’” Peña stated. “I’m not looking out to articulate the rest a ways flung from Amanda; she’s a ravishing mom. Nonetheless I gave birth to my daughter. I have faith fancy for giving birth, I am the first Mother-Champ. Which implies lots to me.”
She has quite so a lot of alternate choices, though she would perchance well get destroyed others. The UFC is in talks with free agent Kayla Harrison, whom they wished to compare with Nunes at 145 kilos in what would had been a large financial fight.
With Nunes losing, that puts that fight into jeopardy and even per chance the UFC’s possibilities of signing Harrison.
Nonetheless with one door closed — or at leasing closing — others opened. Peña is amenable to a rematch with Nunes at 135, but stated she’s also in a bout at 125 with flyweight champion Valentina Shevchenko, who defeated her in 2017.
She didn’t are looking out to mediate too noteworthy of what’s subsequent trusty now after the fight. She’d been in camp terminate to a year since the bout with Nunes became as soon as postponed from its fashioned September date when Nunes bought COVID-19.
So she wished to articulate time alongside with her family and mirror on the enormity of what she’d finished.
“I haven’t got the rest to declare,” Peña stated. “All americans slept on me and I unnerved the arena.”