The dust hadn’t even settled at UFC 259 when a potential title challenger emerged for Amanda Nunes.
Not at featherweight, mind you. Nunes defended her 145lb title Saturday with a brilliant albeit short display of striking and grappling against Megan Anderson. After a couple of heavy right hands, Nunes took the fight to the ground, quickly submitting the former Invicta FC champ with a triangle arm-bar.
Featherweight is all but cleaned out. Only the 1-0 Danyelle Wolf remains. But it is the bantamweight division, where Nunes is also champion, where her focus could turn next. And Saturday, top 135lb contender Julianna Pena called for a title fight with “The Lioness.”
Pena was supposed to face Holly Holm on May 8, a fight that was looked upon, at least for Pena, as a potential title eliminator. That fight, however, appears to be off. ESPN’s Ariel Helwani broke the news Saturday, with Pena later confirming the report.
No reason was given for Holm’s withdrawal from the bout. Pena (10-4), 31, is 2-2 in her last four. She’s coming off a win over former title challenger and Olympic medalist Sara McMann in January. Previously, she had suffered another setback, opposite ex-featherweight champ and bantamweight title challenger Germaine de Randamie.
It’s unclear if the UFC would be willing to consider booking Pena in a title fight off a single win. But she’s certainly hungry for the opportunity. Promotion chief Dana White did confirm Pena had been texting the UFC all night. And a title fight? “Yeah, we could do that,” White said during the post-fight press conference.