Nunes defeats Peña to regain UFC women’s bantamweight belt

DALLAS (AP) — Amanda Nunes won a five-round unanimous decision over Julianna Peña in the main event of UFC 277 on Saturday night to regain the women’s bantamweight championship she lost last December.

Nunes (22-5), nicknamed “The Lioness,” also holds the featherweight belt. The judges’ score was 50-45, 50-44 and 50-43.

“Again double champion, baby!” Nunes shouted to the crowd after the fight. “This is the best day of my life.”

Peña defeated Nunes last December in Las Vegas to win the title in one of the biggest upsets in UFC history.

Saturday’s bout was the first title defense for Peña (12-5) in the 135-pound division.

Brandon Moreno won the co-main event with a third-round TKO over Kai Kara-France in a scheduled five-round bout to claim the interim men’s flyweight championship belt.

Nunes dropped Peña three times in round two, twice on right hooks and then with a left to the forehead.

Nunes took down Peña midway through the third round and kept her on the mat, punching her in the head to open cuts along Peña’s hairline that left blood spattering on the mat.

Nunes again had Peña on his back for much of the fourth and fifth rounds. Peña’s face was streaked with blood that stained much of the carpet.

“I could have finished her, but I wanted to go five rounds with her tonight to prove I was better than her,” Nunes said, her swollen right eye nearly shut, using crutches to reach the session. maintenance. “I could have done six, seven rounds.”

Nunes came out and added a left-handed stance to her normal right-handed stance. She believes Peña confused.

UFC President Dana White said Peña was pulled from the arena after the fight to see a plastic surgeon about damage to her forehead.

“Julianna is tough as nails,” White said. “His will to win is second to none.”

Nunes held the bantamweight belt for more than five years before the December loss, which ended a 12-fight winning streak that included nine straight title fights.

Referee Herb Dean stopped the fight between Moreno and Kara-France at 4:34 after Moreno, sporting a deep cut under his right eye with blood streaming down his face and chest, landed a kick to the liver that brought down Kara-France. Moreno then finished him off.

Moreno (20-6-2), of Tijuana, Mexico, topped the division and Kara-France (24-10), of New Zealand, was second. Moreno was supported by a crowd chanting “Mo-re-no!” and “Me-xi-co!” sometimes during the game.

Deiveson Figueiredo regained the flyweight belt from Moreno last January with a unanimous decision in a trilogy bout in the 125-pound division. But Figueiredo injured his hand months ago and couldn’t defend his title, leading the UFC to create an interim title fight.

After Saturday’s fight, Figueiredo entered the octagon with his championship belt and met Moreno. Figueiredo said he would love to welcome Moreno to his native Brazil for the undisputed title.

“I don’t care (where),” Moreno said. “Let’s go.”

Moreno said he allegedly told Figueiredo he didn’t appreciate his stepping into the cage but didn’t want to set a bad example for his 8-year-old daughter.

Sergei Pavlovich received a TKO in 55 seconds in a scheduled three-round bout against Derrick Lewis, the oldest fighter on the card at 37 and a Houston fan favorite. Pavlovich landed a series of punches to the head and upper body of Lewis. Lewis eventually fell but jumped back when referee Dan Miragliotta stopped him, as both Lewis and the crowd expressed their displeasure at the decision.

White said the fight shouldn’t have been stopped.

“Miragliotta made a mistake,” White said. “It happens.”

Pavlovich (16-1) placed 11th while Lewis (26-10) finished fifth.

Alexandre Pantoja quickly finished Alex Perez on a tap at just 1:31 in their scheduled three-round men’s flyweight match. Pantoja (25-5), ranked No. 4, rode Perez (24-7), No. 6, along the fence and locked his arms on Perez’s jaw to force submission.

Magomed Ankalaev scored a TKO at 3:09 of the second of three rounds against Anthony Smith in a men’s light heavyweight bout. Ankalaev (18-1), ranked No. 4, beat Smith (36-17), No. 5, in the first round, then hit him along the base of the fence early in the second round when the referee Jacob Montalvo stopped the fight. Smith injured his left leg and was helped out of the cage, but White said there was no broken bone.

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