Amanda Nunes’ last fight before Saturday was a narrow split-decision win over Valentina Shevchenko that went five rounds in a second defense of her bantamweight title.
Saturday didn’t provide nearly the suspense as Nunes continually battered Raquel Pennington at UFC 224 for her seventh straight win and third since taking the belt from Miesha Tate in 2016.
Amanda Nunes takes control early
Nunes tripped Pennington up with a leg kick early in the first round and was the aggressor throughout the fight. She repeatedly followed leg kicks with head blows early on, backing Pennington up to the edge of the Octagon and leaving the outside of her left leg bright purple and red from the repeated strikes.
— UFC (@ufc) May 13, 2018
After a pair of failed attempts while backed against the cage, Pennington scored a takedown of Nunes late in the second round to slow the steady onslaught from the champion.
But Nunes was never in trouble and continued to attack a weary Pennington throughout. Nunes delivered several knees to Pennington’s face in the fourth, leaving her faced bloodied.
Raquel Pennington’s corner convinces her to keep going
Pennington wanted to retire after the fourth round with an apparent broken nose, but returned to fight the fifth after her corner talked her into it.
— FloCombat (@FloCombat) May 13, 2018
But Pennington didn’t have anything left in the tank, and Nunes went in for the finish, pinning Pennington on her back around the 3:00 mark. Nunes attacked her face again, and blood poured from Pennington’s nose onto the mat before the fight was called for Nunes via TKO at 2:36 in the fifth round.
Nunes shows respect for Pennington’s toughness
Nunes, a Brazil native, invited Pennington to join her for the post-fight interview in the cage and spoke of her respect for her opponent in front of Rio de Janiero’s Jeunesse Arena.
“It was very hard for me this fight,” Nunes said. “It was the most hard of my career to fight this girl. Because we have the respect.
“When it comes to finish this bout, something I’ve dreamed about for so long, I have to do it. But right now. We are friends. We’re going to leave this cage. We’re going to have a beer and celebrate our friendship.”
The two fighters then embraced.
Respect & friendship between two competitors.
— UFC (@ufc) May 13, 2018
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