Already the second most successful UFC women's Bantamweight Champion, Amanda Nunes faced the battle of TUF 18's Raquel Pennington at UFC 224 in her third championship defense.
Once, Pennington would have seemed an unlikely opponent. Just three years ago, she was 5-5 in her career, and had dropped fights to Holly Holm and Jessica Andrade. Between September 2015-November 2016, she won a rematch over Andrade, beat former champion Miesha Tate and former title challenger Bethe Correia, and sent Elizabeth Phillips packing from the UFC. Unfortunately, a severe leg injury slowed Pennington's pace and put her out of action for over a year and a half.
Nunes made an impression right out of the gate with a leg kick that dropped Pennington and set up the rest of her offense. Nunes outclassed Pennington for the duration of the first round, as Pennington was never really able to get an offensive going consistently.
In round 2, Pennington used a waistlock takedown in the final minute to counter four minutes of eating strikes. Round three witnessed much of the same, until Nunes crumbled Pennington with a knee to close of the round. The cardio of Nunes seems to no longer be in question, as she looked fresh as a daisy entering the "championship rounds." Nunes returned to kneeing Pennington, this time in the head during round four after several minutes of top control and a takedown.
Nunes is still three successful title defenses short of Ronda Rousey's UFC women's record of six, but it's worth noting that Rousey defended the Strikeforce Women's Bantamweight title once more before being awarded the UFC title.
Pennington told her corner in between rounds four and five that she was done, but her coach talked her back into going into the cage. This resulted in Nunes dragging Pennington to the ground and finishing off the challenger.
In the cage after the fight, Pennington's significant other Tecia Torres joined her in the cage, while Nunes' in Nina Ansaroff did as well. The bout was the first to serve as a UFC PPV headliner with two openly gay fighters. Nunes said that when they leave, they'd all get a beer.
You can see our full, live UFC 224 coverage at this link, and join in on our post-show podcast, which airs live right after the PPV.