UFC 224’s main event ended with women’s bantamweight champion Amanda Nunes pummeling friend and title challenger Raquel Pennington into a bloody pulp.
The main event of UFC 224 featured Brazil’s Amanda Nunes in her home country, defending her championship against number one contender Raquel Pennington. The fight had a curious subplot to it. Nunes and Pennington are friends, who had to put that aside for the fight. They’re both openly gay, and dating fellow UFC stars. They’d gone as far as to go on double dates together. It’s something the UFC mostly glossed over, outside of its usual promotional endeavors.
When the friends went to war, Amanda Nunes landed a big leg kick that dropped Raquel. She continued throwing and landing big shots, and a number of big leg kicks. Nunes soon had Pennington up against the fence and was unloading with more heavy strikes. The champ essentially did what she wanted in round one. While Pennington scored with a few strikes of her own, she was heavily out-landed and hit with some hard shots.
Round two started out with Pennington’s leg looking horrible. She looked for a takedown but couldn’t land it; Nunes however landed a leg kick that made Pennington’s leg buckle. Nunes kept Pennington on the fence and continued landing shots and having her way with the title challenger. Pennington again shot for a takedown, and once again was stuffed. That left her back on the cage. Nunes was firing off a multitude of different strikes, including throwing a spinning back kick to Pennington’s body. Pennington then got a leg and finally took Nunes down. Before long, ‘Rocky’ had her back. She finished the round on top, but there was no end in sight.
Round three saw Amanda Nunes still applying pressure, but ‘Rocky’ was landing more frequently than the first two frames. Pennington then closed the distance and Nunes picked her up and slammed her down for her first takedown of the fight. They get back to their feet, and Raquel Pennington shot for a leg — no dice. The two traded for a bit and Rocky shot for a takedown again only to eat some knees in the process. The round ended with Pennington eating another big knee.
Nunes and Pennington traded to open the fourth. The two both were displaying surprisingly good cardio considering what stage of the fight they were in at that point. Plenty of gas left in the tank it seemed. Nunes completed a takedown and wound up in full guard, but Pennington successfully regained her feet. Nunes then maneuvered Pennington to the fence and began brutalizing her with knees and hard shots. It became a beating, but Pennington survived the round. ‘Rocky’ then went back to her corner and told her coach that she was done, only for her coach to convince her to keep going.
A lot will be made of that exchange between corner and fighter between rounds in the coming days. Pennington was already beat up, but what happened in the fifth round made it worse. In a display that was borderline disgusting and hard to laucnh, Raquel Pennington marched out to the slaughter. Soon enough, she found herself taking shots against the fence again. Blow after blow. Nunes slammed Pennington down again, and looked for ground and pound. There was plenty to be had. Nunes took the back and began landing bombs while Pennington tried vainly to cover up. The challenger was bloodied and battered. It was a fifth round that, given her mindset after the fourth, probably didn’t need to happen.
Mercifully, the ref waved it off. Amanda Nunes retained the title via fifth round TKO, and embraced her friend afterward, as well as Pennington’s fiance, Tecia Torres. The champ said they’ll go out for a beer, but first, Pennington will likely need medical attention. Of note: the finish pushed Amanda Nunes past Ronda Rousey’s record for finishes in the UFC bantamweight division. Nunes now has seven.
Amanda Nunes def. Raquel Pennington by TKO, Round 5, 2:36