The showdown between UFC champions Amanda Nunes and Cris Cyborg will have to wait – if it happens at all.
The UFC today made official a women’s bantamweight title fight between champ Nunes and Raquel Pennington. The bout, which was previously reported by MMAjunkie, is set to headline the UFC 224 pay-per-view May 12 at Jeunesse Arena in Rio de Janeiro, with prelims airing on FS1 and UFC Fight Pass.
Although Nunes (15-4 MMA, 8-1 UFC) vs. Pennington (9-5 MMA, 6-2 UFC) was expected, UFC President Dana White toyed with the idea of scrapping it to ensure a champion vs. champion showdown between Nunes and featherweight titleholder Cyborg (20-1 MMA, 5-0 UFC). Following Cyborg’s TKO win over Yana Kunitskaya this past Saturday, White said he would consider making the super fight next.
“I think that I will,” White said at UFC 222’s post-event press conference in response to a question from MMAjunkie.
“Could be (in Rio),” White continued. “I mean, (Cyborg) just fought, so once the adrenaline goes down, she’s got to get checked out and make sure she’s 100 percent. And I just think her and Nunes is the fight that needs to happen.”
Be that as it may, it’s Pennington who gets a 135-pound title shot first, despite not competing since November 2016. Pennington is on a four-fight winning streak capped by a dominant decision over ex-champ Miesha Tate at UFC 205. Pennington previously was targeted for a bantamweight title shot against Nunes at UFC 219 but was sidelined in October after a vehicle accident.
For Nunes, the fight with Pennington will be the third attempted defense of her bantamweight title in a win streak that stretches six fights. Most recently, Nunes outpointed Valentina Shevchenko by split decision in September at UFC 215, rebounding after a bout of sinusitis that scratched a previous headliner between the two.
The latest UFC 224 lineup includes:
Champ Amanda Nunes vs. Raquel Pennington – for women’s bantamweight title
Ronaldo Souza vs. Kelvin Gastelum
Vitor Belfort vs. Lyoto Machida
Nick Hein vs. Davi Ramos
Ramazan Emeev vs. Alberto Mino
Junior Albini vs. Aleksei Oliynyk
Cezar Ferreira vs. Karl Roberson
Jack Hermansson vs. Thales Leites