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Seven months ago, after losing her bantamweight belt in a stunning loss to Julianna Peña, Amanda Nunes made serious changes.
She left the top American team gym where she had long trained, moved to a private gym she called “Lioness Studio” and trained under Roger Krahl. He’s been in her corner for some of her biggest fights, including the one where she knocked out Ronda Rousey.
On Saturday night at the American Airlines Center in Dallas, the actions paid off as Nunes regained the UFC bantamweight title she lost to Peña in December and a unanimous decision in the UFC’s main event (50-45, 50-44 , 50-43) hit 277 and claims a part of MMA history.
“The lioness, if she doesn’t catch her prey the first time, I better set the traps and I know I’d catch her the second time,” Nunes said afterwards as she held her baby daughter in the ring.
Nunes, whose 15 UFC wins are the most in promotion history, won her 10th title fight — most among women in UFC history and fifth-most overall.
Nunes left Peña bloodied as she struggled to thwart Nunes’ switch to a southpaw stance with a right hand and right foot forward and then lead with right jabs followed by a left cross and right hook. That, along with her wrestling technique in later rounds, was key, she said.
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“The most important thing was my southpaw,” Nunes said. “I know I wanted to catch her with that tonight. I knew she wouldn’t get used to it. She’s not a striker. … She was so confused. I’m not very good with my southpaw yet. I said to my coach, ‘I’ll see how I feel.’ I tried it tonight and I felt good.”
With that stance, Nunes (22-5 MMA, 15-2 UFC) dropped Peña (11-5, 7-3) several times in the early stages and then defeated Peña with her wrestling moves. She knocked down Peña three times in the second round, a UFC women’s record for single-round knockdowns, according to ESPN Stats & Information. She led Peña 85-60 in significant strikes, defeating them six times in eight attempts.
After the fight, Peña made his way to seek medical attention for lacerations to his face, according to UFC President Dana White.
“Julianna is missing a big chunk on her forehead,” he said at the UFC 277 post-fight press conference. “She’s going to see a plastic surgeon right now, take some time to heal, and then I don’t know. She’s pretty crazy tonight. It was like five or six knockdowns in the first two rounds. she was hurt She needs to take some time off, relax, spend some time with her daughter and then we’ll move on.”
Nunes became the first to regain the UFC bantamweight title after losing it, but it came at a price. Her right eye was nearly swollen shut and she used crutches to get to the post-fight press conference.
“I thought it was totally dominant,” White said. “In the first two rounds there were five defeats. There is a big difference between submission attempts and knockdowns. They’re not even comparable. Julianna is tough as nails and her will to win is second to none. She wanted to win. I think as dominant as Amanda was – and she was dominant tonight – I didn’t think it was close in any way, shape or form. It was a complete shutdown.”
Nunes, who plans to get some rest and visit a Brazilian family she hasn’t seen in years because of the coronavirus pandemic, called it “the best day ever,” adding that “the best thing I’ve ever done.” have done, set up my gym. I feel safe in my gym. I feel like I can grow and develop further.”