Amanda Nunes Defeats Julianna Peña to Reclaim UFC Women’s Bantamweight Title

It’s a case of sweet revenge for Amanda Nunes

The 34-year-old Brazilian professional mixed martial artist defeated Julianna Peña via a dominant unanimous decision (50-45, 50-44, 50-43) in the main event of UFC 277 on Saturday night at American Airlines Center.

Amanda NunesNunes had vowed to make changes in her game and get her belt back after shockingly losing it seven months ago to Peña.

With the victory, Nunes, the greatest women’s fighter in MMA history, reclaimed the UFC women’s bantamweight title she lost to Peña at UFC 269 in December.

“The lioness, if they don’t get the prey the first time, I set the trap and I know I’d get it the second time,” Nunes said in her postfight interview.

Nunes said this fight was all about “strategy” and that the key was her going southpaw. Then, when Peña got comfortable on the feet, Nunes said she started to go for the takedowns.

“The main thing was my southpaw,” Nunes said. “I know I was gonna catch her with that tonight. I knew she was not gonna be able to adjust to that. She’s not a striker. … She was so confused. I’m not very good yet with my southpaw. I told my coach, ‘I’m gonna see how I feel.’ I tried tonight, and I felt good.”

Nunes dropped Peña with a check right hook out of the southpaw stance several times in the early rounds. As the fight wore on, Nunes began using her wrestling to take Peña down over and over, then cut her up from top position with slicing elbows.

Peña had several bad cuts on her face after the fourth round. Nunes nearly had a rear-naked choke finish in the fifth, but Peña was incredibly tough and fought it off.

Nunes had moments where she might have been able to finish the fight but perhaps didn’t want to make the mistake she did in the first fight, where she got tired after trying to finish Peña in the first round.

“Julianna is tough as nails,” UFC president Dana White said. “Her will to win is second to none. She wanted to win. As dominant as Amanda was, and she was dominant tonight — I don’t think it was close in any way, shape or form; I thought it was a complete shutout — she still looked a little gun shy to me.

“She had Julianna hurt many times, had her on crazy legs many times and never really went in for the kill.”

After the first fight, Nunes left her longtime gym, American Top Team, and moved into a private facility she has dubbed Lioness Studio. She trained under coach Roger Krahl, who was in her corner for some of her biggest fights, like the knockout of Ronda Rousey.

“The best thing I did was make my gym,” Nunes said. “In my gym, I feel like I’m safe. I feel like I can grow and evolve.”

In the second round, Nunes knocked Peña down three times, setting the record for most knockdowns in a round ever among women in the UFC, according to ESPN Stats & Information research. Overall, Nunes outlanded Peña 85-60 in significant strikes and took Peña down six times in eight attempts.

Nunes’ 15 UFC wins is the most among women in UFC history. This was her 10th title fight win, the most among women in UFC history and fifth best overall. Nunes is the first woman in the UFC to regain the bantamweight title after losing it.

Saturday’s fight was the 13th immediate rematch ever in the UFC after one fighter took the belt from another. Saturday marked just the third time in those instances that a fighter reclaimed the title. Randy Couture did it against Vitor Belfort in 2004 and Deiveson Figueiredo did it this past January over Brandon Moreno.

Judges Douglas Crosby and Sal D’Amato each scored the second round 10-8 for Nunes, while Crosby also scored the fifth 10-8 for Nunes. The other judge, Jacob Montalvo, did not score a 10-8 in any round.

Coming in, ESPN had Nunes ranked No. 2 and Peña ranked No. 4 on its pound-for-pound women’s MMA list. At bantamweight, Peña was No. 1 and Nunes was No. 2.

Nunes (22-5) was on a 12-fight winning streak before losing to Peña, with wins during that stretch over the likes of Ronda Rousey, Cris Cyborg, Miesha Tate and Holly Holm. The Brazilian slugger, who trains out of South Florida, is also the UFC women’s featherweight champion.

Nunes, 34, is the first UFC fighter to defend two titles in separate weight classes concurrently — and has seven title.

Cris Cyborg Knocks Out Sinead Kavanagh to Retain Bellator’s Women’s Featherweight Title

Less than two minutes… That’s the time it took Cris Cyborg to roll past her latest opponent.

The 36-year-old Brazilian mixed martial artist, Bellator’s women’s featherweight champion, was as dominant as ever in defending her belt for the third time, knocking out Sinead Kavanagh in the first round of the Bellator 271 main event on Friday night in Hollywood, Florida.

Cris "Cyborg" Justino

This fight looked like most of the fights during Cyborg’s 16-year pro career. She came out blitzing Kavanagh, trapping her against the cage and unleashing punches that within the first minute had bloodied her face.

Kavanagh (7-5), a 35-year-old from Ireland who trains in the same SBG Dublin gym as Conor McGregor, did manage to get her back off the cage and, relying on her background as an amateur boxer, she began trading punches with Cyborg, which wasn’t the best idea.

A right hand wobbled the challenger and another right sent her crashing to the canvas, flat on her back. Referee Jason Herzog immediately jumped in to wave off the fight as a knockout at 1 minute, 32 seconds of Round 1.

For Cyborg (25-2, 1 NC), a former 145-pound champion in the UFC, Strikeforce and Invicta FC promotions, it was her fifth straight win and the 11th first-round knockout of her career.

Cyborg, who lives and trains in Southern California, has just one loss in her past 27 fights, a run of success that extends back to her pro MMA debut in 2005.

In an interview afterward inside the cage, Cyborg, who was a 25-1 betting favorite, smiled as she apologized to her coaches.

“I’m sorry, my team,” she said. “I didn’t do anything that we planned.”

Then Cyborg put this virtuosic performance behind her and shifted her focus to her next title defense. She mentioned that she had called for a fight with former UFC title challenger Cat Zingano, who has won two fights since signing with Bellator two years ago.

“But I leave it to Scott Coker,” Cyborg said, referring to the Bellator president. “I don’t choose fights.”

However, a fight might end up choosing her. Cyborg was reminded that among those in the crowd at Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino was two-time PFL lightweight champion Kayla Harrison, who is a free agent and has been checking out her options. She was at UFC 268 last Saturday. On Friday night, she was at Bellator 271.

“Kayla, thanks for coming to the fights. I really appreciate you’re here,” Cyborg said to Harrison, a 2012 and 2016 Olympic gold medalist in judo. “I’m here. If you want to fight me one day, it’s gonna be a great fight.”

Cris Cyborg to Defend Bellator Featherweight Title Against Sinead Kavanagh

Cris Cyborg is going on the defensive…

The 36-year-old Brazilian mixed martial artist, one of Bellator’s top stars, will defend her belt next month.

Cris CyborgBellator president Scott Coker announced on The MMA Hour that Cyborg will defend her women’s featherweight title against Sinead Kavanagh on November 12 in Hollywood, Florida.

Cyborg (24-2, 1 NC) is one of the greatest women’s fighters in MMA history.

The Brazil native, who fights out of California, is 3-0 in Bellator, beating Julia Budd for the women’s featherweight title in January 2020.

Cyborg has lost just once since her pro debut in 2005, to UFC double champion Amanda Nunes.

Cyborg is the only MMA fighter to win titles in four major promotions: UFC, Strikeforce, Bellator and Invicta FC.

Kavanagh (7-4) has won two in a row. The 35-year-old Ireland native, who trains out of SBG Ireland (Conor McGregor’s team in Dublin), is coming off a unanimous decision win over Katharina Lehner in October 2020.

Cris Cyborg Defeats Leslie Smith by TKO to Defend Bellator Women’s Featherweight Title

Cris Cyborg is keepin’ her title..

The 35-year-old Brazilian mixed martial, whose real name is Cristiane Justino Venâncio,

Cris Cyborg 

defended her Bellator women’s featherweight title, beating Leslie Smith by TKO at 4 minutes, 51 seconds of the fifth round in the main event of Bellator 259 on Friday night at Mohegan Sun in Uncasville, Connecticut.

It was a rematch of a 2016 bout that Cyborg finished via TKO in just 1:21.

Known for her violent, quick finishes, Cyborg previously had been deeper than the third round only three times in her career. Smith is only the second fighter to take Cyborg into the fifth round, joining former UFC women’s bantamweight champion Holly Holm.

ESPN has Cyborg ranked No. 3 on its women’s MMA pound-for-pound list. Her only loss since her pro debut in 2005 came against Amanda Nunes, the UFC women’s bantamweight and featherweight champion.

In their first fight at UFC 198 five years ago, Smith disputed the stoppage as being too early. She got some measure of vindication Saturday night, but the outcome wasn’t really ever in doubt.

Cyborg dominated every round, landing big combinations and several impactful suplexes that sent Smith hard to the mat. Cyborg dropped Smith in four out of five rounds with punches. Many of Cyborg’s former opponents have folded after feeling her power, but Smith didn’t until the closing seconds.

“I knew she’s tough,” Cyborg said in her postfight interview. “I knew. I’ve met her before. I know her. I really respect her. She’s a real fighter.” With time expiring in the fifth round, Cyborg landed a crushing right hand that dropped Smith. She then followed up with big punches on the ground. Smith turned over and covered up, but Cyborg continued the onslaught, and referee Dan Miragliotta stepped in and waved it off.

Afterward, Cyborg called out former UFC title challenger Cat Zingano for her next title defense. Zingano is 2-0 in Bellator and coming off a finish last month.

Cyborg (24-2, 1 NC) picked up her second Bellator title defense Saturday night. The Brazil native, who trains out of Southern California, has won four straight overall. She has 19 career wins via KO/TKO in 24 victories. Cyborg is the only fighter in MMA history to win titles in four major promotions: UFC, Bellator, Strikeforce and Invicta FC.

Cris Cyborg to Defend Bellator Women’s Featherweight Title in Rematch Against Leslie Smith

Cris Cyborg is ready for her next challenger…

The 35-year-old Brazilian mixed martial artist, whose real name is Cristiane Justino Venâncio, will put her Bellator women’s featherweight title on the line against Leslie Smith on May 21.

Cris Cyborg

Cyborg beat Smith in 2016 in what was Cyborg’s UFC debut. Cyborg (23-2, 1 NC) is one of the best female fighters of all time. She is coming off a second-round submission win over Arlene Blencowe last October. That was Cyborg’s first title defense.

Cyborg stopped Julia Budd by fourth-round TKO in January 2020 to win the title. That victory made Cyborg the first fighter to win titles in four major promotions: UFC, Bellator, Strikeforce and Invicta.

Since 2005, Cyborg has been defeated only by UFC double champion Amanda Nunes. Cyborg left the UFC when her contract expired in 2019 after a rocky tenure.

Smith (12-8-1) has won four of her past five fights. The California native is coming off a unanimous decision over Amanda Bell last September.

Smith was finished by Cyborg in 1:21 at UFC 198 on May 14, 2016, but disputed that, saying it was an early stoppage.

She is best known for her attempts to organize MMA fighters, who don’t have a union or association.

Amanda Nunes Thrashes Megan Anderson to Retain UFC Women’s Featherweight Title

Amanda Nunes keeps on dominating…

The 32-year-old Brazilian professional mixed martial artist, the most dominant female fighter in mixed martial arts history, absolutely thrashed No. 1 featherweight contender Megan Anderson.

Amanda Nunes

Nunes (21-4) forced Anderson (10-5) to tap to an armbar at 2:03 of the opening round of their featherweight title fight at UFC 259 inside the Apex. In all likelihood, she could’ve finished the fight any way she wanted. She rocked Anderson with a right hand in the opening minute, a shot that had the challenger on skates. Anderson was so hurt, she actually shot a takedown on Nunes, which led to a finish on the ground.

With the victory, Nunes defended her 145-pound title for the second time. She’s also still in control of the 135-pound bantamweight title. She is one of only three champions in UFC history to defend titles in multiple weight classes, and she holds UFC records for the women’s divisions in wins (14), finishes (10) and wins in title fights (9).

“The plan was exactly how I finished the fight,” Nunes said. “I’m here. It’s not my fault [I’m this dominant]. I know there are a lot of girls out there who want this opportunity. Who wants it?”

Anderson was a plus-700 underdog going into the fight — and that might not have been high enough. She did enough to earn a shot at Nunes in the 145-pound weight class, but she looked shell-shocked from the opening bell. Nunes slipped in a fastball overhand right early on, and it was all survival instincts from Anderson from then on. She ate several more right hands, before desperately attempting a takedown.

Nunes, a black belt in Brazilian jiu-jitsu, easily stuffed the shot and moved to top position. She set up a triangle armbar attempt almost instantly and quickly produced the fourth submission win of her career. She extended her win streak to 12 overall, which is the second longest in the UFC behind only welterweight champion Kamaru Usman.

Amanda Nunes

Nunes and her wife, UFC strawweight Nina Ansaroff, brought their infant daughter, Raegan, into the Octagon after the win. Nunes, who was born in Brazil but trains in Florida, had Raegan at her side all fight week.

“I’m more dangerous now with my little girl,” Nunes said. “No one is stopping me.”

The UFC has not indicated any long-term plans for its 145-pound division, but there is no one in the foreseeable future for Nunes to fight at that weight. Her next move will almost assuredly be at bantamweight, where she has held the title since UFC 200 in 2016. She has defeated all of the sport’s biggest names, including Miesha TateRonda RouseyHolly HolmCris Cyborg and Germaine de Randamie.

Cris Cyborg to Defend Her Bellator Title Against Arlene Blencowe Next Month

Cris Cyborg is getting into defensive mode…

The 35-year-old Brazilian-American mixed martial artist, whose real name is Cristiane Justino, is ready for her first Bellator title defense as part of the promotion’s debut on a new network.

Cris Cyborg

Cyborg will put her Bellator women’s featherweight title on the line against Arlene Blencowe on October 15 at Mohegan Sun in Uncasville, Connecticut, promotion officials have announced.

The card will air in a Thursday night time slot on CBS Sports Network. Bellator had been on Paramount Network (formerly Spike TV) since 2013.

Cyborg (22-2, 1 NC), ESPN’s No. 3-ranked pound-for-pound female fighter in the world, won the Bellator title in her last outing, stopping Julia Budd by fourth-round TKO in January.

Cyborg has won two straight after losing the UFC women’s featherweight title to Amanda Nunes at UFC 232 in December 2018.

Cyborg departed the UFC after her contract expired last year. She’s one of the most fearsome women’s MMA fighters of all time with 18 KO/TKO finishes in 22 pro wins.

Blencowe (13-7) has won three straight and is coming off a unanimous decision win over UFC veteran Leslie Smith last November. The Australia native has just two MMA losses in the past five years, both to Budd. Blencowe, a 37-year-old boxing veteran, has seven KO/TKOs in 13 pro wins.

Cris Cyborg Makes History with Bellator Win Over Julia Budd

Cris Cyborg has earned her place in the mixed martial arts history books…

The 34-year-old Brazilian-American mixed martial artist, whose real name is Cristiane Justino, made her Bellator debut at The Forum in Inglewood, California, in grand fashion.

Cris Cyborg

Cris Cyborg (22-2 MMA, 1-0 BMMA) scored a fourth-round TKO of Julia Budd to claim the women’s featherweight belt, to complete a grand slam and enhance her legacy in the sport.

The victory saw her win a championship with her fourth MMAorganization, having also won titles with the UFCInvicta FC, and Strikeforce.

In the early rounds of  Saturday’s fight, Cris Cyborg showed little respect to her opponent, throwing relentless strikes to Budd’s face and body.

When victory came in the fourth, Cris Cyborg dropped to the canvas, appearing to celebrate the win in disbelief having ended Budd’s unbeaten run of 2,998 days.

Cris Cyborg Signs with Bellator MMA 

Cristiane Justino is taking her fight elsewhere…

The 34-year-old Brazilian mixed martial artist, better known as Cris Cyborg, has signed with Bellator MMA after a three-year run with the Ultimate Fighting Championship ( UFC).

Cris Cyborg

One of the best women’s fighters in the history of the sport is now under a multiyear, multi-bout contract with Bellator, promotion president Scott Coker announced via Twitter. Coker wrote that it was the biggest contract ever given to a women’s MMA fighter.

Cyborg accompanied Bellator’s announcement with a video message to her fans on Facebook.

“My goal is to become the only female fighter to hold four different major titles in the same division,” said Cyborg, who has already held the women’s featherweight title in the UFC, Strikeforce and Invicta FC.

The final fight on Cyborg’s UFC contract came against Felicia Spencer at UFC 240 in July, a bout Cyborg won via unanimous decision. 

The fighter and UFC president Dana Whitehave had a long history of butting heads, and White said in the aftermath of that bout the UFC was out of the Cyborg business. The UFC waived its 90-day exclusive negotiating window with the Brazilian knockout artist, making her a free agent.

Cyborg, who is No. 3 pound-for-pound among women in ESPN‘s MMA rankings, won the UFC women’s featherweight title by beating Tonya Evinger by third-round TKO at UFC 214 in July 2017. She dropped the belt to Amanda Nunes, also the UFC’s women’s bantamweight champ, at UFC 232 last December via first-round knockout. That defeat was Cyborg’s first in 13 years, since her pro MMA debut in 2005.

From 2005 until 2018, Cyborg was the most dominating and fearsome force in women’s mixed martial arts. Justino went undefeated and won 17 of 20 victories by finish. Cyborg has beaten the likes of Holly HolmMarloes Coenen and Gina Carano. Historically, she has also been one of the best-known women’s MMA fighters in the world, drawing solid numbers on television and pay-per-view.

“I have worked with countless athletes over my 30-plus years of promoting combat sports, but there is no one quite like Cyborg,” said Coker, who promoted Justino with Strikeforce. “Her ability to excite the crowd from the moment she makes her walk to the cage is special, and having had the pleasure of promoting several of her fights in the past, I am looking forward to the opportunity of promoting her once again. Cyborg is the most dominant female fighter in the history of the sport and she will be a perfect fit here at Bellator, where champion Julia Budd and the other women that make up best female featherweight division in the world have eagerly awaited her arrival.”

Cyborg was brought into the UFC in 2016 at a catchweight of 140 pounds. She had competed previously at 145 pounds, a more natural weight. The idea at the time was to set up a fight between Cyborg and Ronda Rousey, but it never materialized. Cyborg was too big to get down to Rousey’s 135-pound weight class and Rousey departed the UFC later in 2016.

Cyborg and the UFC had an embattled relationship even before Cyborg was under contract. In 2014, White infamously made fun of Cyborg for her appearance at an MMA awards show, saying she looked like male fighter Wanderlei Silva in a dress. Cyborg took it as White saying she looked like a man; White has said that he was making a comment on Cyborg’s past history with performance-enhancing drugs. Cyborg tested positive for a steroid and was stripped of her Strikeforce title in 2011.

After Nunes beat Cyborg last December, White repeatedly said Cyborg didn’t want a rematch, which Cyborg vehemently denied. Meanwhile, Cyborg said she felt the UFC never truly built out a women’s featherweight division in which she could compete, which was a valid criticism.

On Ariel Helwani’s MMA Show in July, Cyborg said she wanted a public apology from White as a condition of her re-signing with the UFC.

“Of course, he has to apologize,” Justino said. “I think he has family, he has kids. … I don’t know if he has a heart, but I think one thing he’s doing is not just touching me, because he doesn’t like me. He’s touching the people around me, he’s touching my family. It’s not right.”

The rocky relationship came to an end in earnest after UFC 240 when Cyborg’s team posted a doctored video online that inaccurately quoted White in subtitles while talking to Cyborg backstage in Edmonton, Alberta. Cyborg apologized on social media, but White said in an interview on the UFC’s YouTube channel that the promotion was done with Cyborg.

“I’m going to release her from her contract and I will not match any offers [she receives],” White said. “She is free and clear to go to Bellator or any of these other promotions and fight these easy fights she wants. Done. Done deal. I will literally, today, have my lawyer draft a letter to [Justino’s team saying] that she is free and clear.”

In the Bellator release announcing her signing, it makes note of the promotion’s healthy women’s featherweight division, including Budd, who has won 11 straight.

Amanda Nunes Defeats Holly Holm by TKO to Retain UFC Women’s Bantamweight Title

Amanda Nunesis making the case to be considered the greatest women’s MMAfighter of all time…

The 31-year-old Brazilian mixed martial artist and Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) fighter defeated Holly Holm by TKO on Saturday to retain her women’s bantamweight title.

Amanda Nunes

Nunes landed a right head kick to Holm’s face and followed up with a hard right hand on the ground. The TKO finish came at 4 minutes, 10 seconds in the first round of the co-main event of UFC 239at T-Mobile Arena.

Nunes said she’d told her coach beforehand that she wanted to stop Holm with a head kick, because that is Holm’s signature technique. Holm had the only other head-kick knockout in a UFC women’s bantamweight title fight, against Ronda Rouseyin 2015.

Coming in, Nunes, also the featherweight champion, had beaten every other former UFC women’s bantamweight or featherweight champion outside of Holm, and now she has defeated Holm as well.

“I told my coaches I wanted to knock her out the same way she knocks people out,” Nunes said. “I did it tonight. She was the only former champion I didn’t beat yet. Now I beat her, and I’m very happy.”

Nunes (17-4) said that she next wanted to defend her featherweight belt to become the only UFC champion to defend two titles while holding them concurrently. 

The Brazilian fighter, who trains out of American Top Teamin Florida, has won nine bouts in a row. Nunes, 31, has four first-round finishes in title fights, tied for second with Matt Hughes. Rousey is first with five.

UFC president Dana Whitereiterated his stance that Nunes ranks among the greatest MMA fighters ever, putting her alongside the likes of Anderson SilvaGeorges St-Pierre and Jon Jones.

White said he was open to booking a rematch between Nunes and Cris Cyborg, who lasted only 51 seconds against Nunes in December.

“This woman is tough, man,” White said of Nunes. “She’s unbelievable. Pound for pound, one of the greatest of all time. But there will be somebody next.”

Holm (12-5) had won two of her past three fights. The former three-division world champion boxer has now lost in four UFC title fights. Holm is only 2-5 since her knockout of Rousey at UFC 193.