Nunes took her opponent down and landed an elbow. While Pennington’s standup is the straw that stirs the drink for her, she has a stealthy good clinch game and proven submission skills.
Raquel was still in it, though, and she landed an uppercut. This round was all Nunes and blood formed from the nose of Pennington.
“I proved in that fight that I could go five rounds because a lot of people talk about that”, she said. Should be an interesting battle with walkers being allowed in the cage of a sanctioned MMA competition for the first time ever!
Despite her corner’s advice, Raquel started the second round on the defensive. According to the latest oddsmakers, Nunes is the clear favorite, as she is getting odds of -925 to win. She finished the round on top, but there was no end in sight.
Round two was underway and a body kick was there for Nunes. She also scored three takedowns and floored Pennington twice. Nunes took the back and began landing bombs while Pennington tried vainly to cover up.
Pennington then grabbed one of Nunes legs, and after a struggle, took Nunes down. But she’s become an effective champion regardless. She is more of a grinder that tries to out-work her opponents.
From there, Nunes kept the pressure on, with takedowns of her own and slowly tenderizing Pennington’s face. Referee Marc Goddard stopped the 135-pound title fight at the 2:36 mark of the final round inside Jeunesse Arena.
Third-ranked Julianna Peña will return post-pregnancy coming off a January loss to the aforementioned Shevchenko, who moved down to 125 pounds after the Nunes rematch. Pennington went for a takedown, but was thwarted.
Nice back and forth with punches in the fourth round. Pennington constantly appeared to have her back against the fence, with the cage cut off and seemingly no means of escape. Nunes tried to pass, but couldn’t do much. Pennington ran right into a takedown. She secured one of the few bulldog choke finishes in Ultimate Fighting Championship history when she put away Ashlee Evans-Smith at UFC 181 in December 2014. A knee to the head was there for Nunes. The round ended with both fighters throwing leather.
Nunes is still three successful title defenses short of Ronda Rousey’s UFC women’s record of six, but it’s worth noting that Rousey defended the Strikeforce Women’s Bantamweight title once more before being awarded the UFC title.