Amanda Nunes’ 5 1/2-year run as UFC women’s bantamweight champion is over. Julianna Pena stopped it Saturday night in the co-main event of UFC 269.
Pena submitted Nunes in the second round of their bout in Las Vegas, which came immediately before the Charles Oliveira-Dustin Poirier main event. She sank in a rear naked choke to end the bout at 3:26 of the round.
“I’m not surprised, motherf—ers,” Pena said in a postfight interview with Joe Rogan in the Octagon as she held her daughter. Pena was confident beforehand that she would dethrone the champ. “I told you, don’t ever doubt me again. Willpower, strength and determination, it will take you places.”
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“You know, no one has ever given me any respect,” she said in a backstage interview. “They’re always just sleeping me. And I said, ‘That’s fine, I like flying under the radar.’ Everybody’s sleeping and I just woke them up. I was just trying to let them know. I told you, I told you I was going to do it, and I did it.”
The result represents one of the biggest upsets in UFC women’s history. Pena (12-4) was a 6-1 underdog vs. 10-1 favorite Nunes (21-5), who won the belt in July 2016 from Miesha Tate.
“I thought I was going to have to fight longer, like she was going to fight longer, but she tapped,” Pena told Rogan.
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The loss ended a 12-fight winning streak for Nunes that began in 2015. She said she wasn’t caught off guard by how Pena fought.
“Honestly, no surprise at all,” she told Rogan in the Octagon. “I know she’s a warrior, I know she’s going to come forward. I know she can get hit and still keep moving forward. I just, today, like, checked out.”
UFC president Dana White said that a rematch would be available to Nunes if she wants one. Pena said she would be happy to have rematch, but she also wants a rematch with UFC women’s flyweight champion Valentina Shevchenko. Shevchenko beat Pena in 2017.
Nunes still holds the UFC women’s featherweight crown.
The MMA world was quick to congratulate the woman who dethroned one of the sport’s all-time greats:
Everyone was laughing at Julianna Pena for the things she said. Well, she got the last laugh – the one that matters. #UFC269
— Nolan King (@mma_kings) December 12, 2021
Peña talked so much for the past year (and beyond, to be honest). No one believed her but her and her team. What a moment. This is pretty damn incredible. She freaking called it.
— Ariel Helwani (@arielhelwani) December 12, 2021