The UFC 224 main event has Amanda “The Lioness” Nunes defending her bantamweight championship against Raquel “Rocky” Pennington. The challenger is the clear underdog and has not been given much of a chance in the eyes of most fans and analysts. If Pennington wins this fight it would be a huge upset.
Nunes will have the advantage being in her home country of Brazil, but what else does the “The Lioness” have working for her in this fight? For starters, Nunes has devastating power in her strikes that usually result in victories by knockout or complete domination. Nunes also uses kicks that are very effective in slicing away at her opponents’ legs.
As most spectators know, Nunes defeated Miesha Tate and Ronda Rousey in 2017. It was very impressive by itself but when you consider that at the time both opponents stood on top of the divisions, it’s down right scary how easy Nunes made it look.
After those emphatic wins Nunes faced off against Valentina “Bullet” Shevchenko. In the past Nunes was having issues with her cardio. The Shevchenko fight went all five rounds, resulting in a controversial split decision win for Nunes. Even though the judges’ results where doubted by some onlookers, Nunes’ cardio was not. Nunes proved to have enough in the gas tank for a championship fight.
In retrospect, if Shevchenko had tried a couple takedowns early on it could’ve made Nunes more hesitant to exchange so freely on the feet. Hopefully, Shevchenko’s missteps have been noticed by Raquel Pennington and can implemented into her own strategy.
Pennington’s fighting approach is more of a traditional boxing style. She’s had fourteen professional fights and only scored one technical knock out. With those results it doesn’t really seem like “Rocky” has tremendous punching power. Her striking usually leads into grappling and submission attempts. Nunes throws a lot of body kicks so that would be a good time for Pennington to try her wrestling. Nunes might try to take the fight to the ground as well, but Pennington has displayed great take down defense in the past.
The biggest hole in Pennington’s game is her tendency to get stuck against the cage in the clinch position with her opponents. She can’t allow that to happen again in this fight because Nunes destroys stationary targets.
Pennington needs to keep the distance by throwing her quick jab in Nunes face while looking for any takedown opportunities that open up. More importantly Pennington has to weather Nunes’ offense in the early rounds and keep her back off the fence to have any realistic chance.
Nunes will be coming into this main event motivated and looking for an impressive finish. Pennington may be resilient enough to last all five rounds, we shall see. Ultimately the champion will retain the title and the challenger will have put up a “Rocky” like effort. That’s a possibility but there’s also a chance Nunes will smash Pennington within three rounds. The third option of Pennington actually wining is unlikely, but stranger things have happened in MMA.
WHO: Amanda “The Lioness” Nunes
WHEN: After the 5th Round
Thanks for reading and make sure to check out the upcoming:
“MMA NERD Speed Recap” covering the results of this fight and the rest of the UFC 224 main card. To Be Continued…
Rick “The MMA NERD” Monsey