Amanda “The Lioness” Nunes returns to her native Brazil, looking to defend her bantamweight crown for the third time, as she takes on perennial contender Raquel Pennington in the main event of UFC 224.
Nunes’ incredible run of form has left six consecutive wins in her rear-view mirror, with only Valentina Shevchenko able to take the aggressive Brazilian out of the first round. That run included her forty-eight second decimation of Ronda Rousey, who has since left the sport well alone, pursuing a career in the WWE.
Raquel “Rocky” Pennington has been patient in waiting for her title shot, last sending Miesha Tate into retirement back at the infamous UFC 205 card in November 2016. She has won four consecutive bouts, with a submission victory over Jessica Andrade starting that run back at UFC 191.
For Pennington, her ability to close the slight reach differential will be key if she is to upset the odds in Rio de Janeiro. Pennington tends to do the best of her work inside the clinch, but with Nunes’ striking as dangerous as it is… Pennington will have to be wary of over extending and getting caught.
The lack of an emerging challenger at 135lbs has led to this somewhat underwhelming main event, but you’d expect someone like Ketlen Vieira to be heading towards being the next challenge for the winner of this bout.
However, if Nunes again proves too strong and defends her title for a third time… are we headed towards a superfight between two Brazilians, with one of the scariest fighters in the sport in Cris Cyborg?
Pennington’s gas tank can’t be challenged, having averaged 13:07 of fight time per UFC bout. She has never been scheduled to go five rounds before, whereas Nunes averages just over six minutes of in-cage time… despite being scheduled to go five rounds on three occasions.
Nunes is rightly considered a huge favourite in this fight, but this is mixed martial arts… literally anything can happen!