UFC Vegas 88: Chelsea Chandler Survives Late Surge by Bloodied Josiane Nunes

Chelsea Chandler and Josiane Nunes, UFC Vegas 88
LAS VEGAS, NEVADA - MARCH 16: (R-L) Chelsea Chandler punches Josiane Nunes of Brazil in their women's bantamweight fight during the UFC Fight Night event at UFC APEX on March 16, 2024 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Jeff Bottari/Zuffa LLC via Getty Images)

Former featherweights Chelsea Chandler and Josiane Nunes returned to 135lbs at UFC Vegas 88 on Saturday — sort of.

While both had competed at 145 in their previous bouts, that weight class had been mothballed by the UFC following the retirement of Amanda Nunes. Chandler, meanwhile, missed weight on Friday, coming in a single pound over the limit.

Nunes immediately held center than pressed forward and declining a glove touch to kick off the fight. Chandler fired a left but the attack of Brazil’s Nunes, with a powerful left hand of her own, proved more dangerous. Chandler fired a kick up the middle, and soon, Nunes opted to drive Chandler into the fence, where the pair battled for head position.

Chandler finally just powered Nunes off the fence, but as impressive as that was, she was soon under fire and retreating once again. Nunes appeared happy to bite down and throw her left, and finally it was Chandler initiating a clinch. They would finally go to the ground with just over 90 seconds on the clock, Chandler on top, Nunes closing her guard.

The pair would head to a second round, where Chandler, nose bloodied, would eventually get the back of Nunes on the ground. Chandler managed to get both hooks in, but rather than lock up a body triangle, transitioned to mount. Nunes rolled, and Chandler went with her, eventually settling on top in half-guard. Chandler would find some room to smash away with elbows in the final minute and a half, but was also back in full guard. As for Nunes, she was unable to find any space to scramble free and really seemed to accept being on her back far more than she should have.

Josiane Nunes came out early in round three pressing the action, chucking left hands while Chandler countered and fired a kick. Nunes moved in with some nasty shots, landing more than one before they clinched up. That didn’t last long and they soon separated, moving back to center. Nunes was fighting like she was on a mission, and after clearly losing the second she likely was. Chandler, meanwhile, was circling on the outside, and being beaten to the punch.

At the midway mark, Chelsea Chandler finally tied things up, looking for a takedown. It wasn’t there, and Nunes went back to leading the dance, backing Chandler up. Chandler, meanwhile, landed a kick to the rear end of Nunes while backing up. With the final minute approaching, Nunes appeared to be in control of the round. Chandler pumped her jab, but Nunes fired off a superman punch. Left hands followed, and while bloodied, it was Nunes walking her opponent down.

That turned out to be too little, too late however, with Chandler winning the first two rounds on all three scorecards.

Official Result: Chelsea Chandler def. Josiane Nunes by unanimous decision (29-28, 29-28, 29-28)