By Julie Glass
Amanda Nunes dominated Raquel Pennington last night in Rio to retain her women’s bantamweight title at UFC 224.
Pennington didn’t appear intimidated at the start of the contest, but an early leg kick sent her toppling to the floor. Pennington was able to get quickly back to her feet, but Nunes pushed forward and looked to trap Pennington against the fence. Another low kick swept Pennington to the floor, though she again got quickly back on her feet and looked to set up counters to Nunes’ heavy punches.
Nunes continued to batter the leg as the round wore on, and Pennington struggled to answer the speed of her opponent’s attacks. Nunes was in complete control, and she appeared unconcerned by anything Pennington might have to offer.
Nunes continued to press forward in the second, firing punches and kicks to the body, as well. Pennington repeatedly backed to the fence and looked to counter, but Nunes always seemed just a step ahead, not to mention more powerful, as well. As the round wore on, Pennington did find some moderate success in the center of the octagon, but Nunes continued to pepper away at the body and legs.
Pennington did work inside in the final minute and was able to bring the fight to the floor, scoring with a few short punches on top before they ultimately reset on their feet before the bell.
Pennington appeared energized to start the third, and she was content to stand in the pocket and trade. Nunes did again catch her attention with a snapping leg kick and then was able to corral a charging Pennington and drop her to the floor. While Nunes enjoyed top position, she didn’t do a ton with the position, and referee Marc Goddard brought them back to their feet with less than two minutes remaining.
Pennington’s left eye seemed to swell in the latter stages of the round, and while her heart was evident, she struggled to mount any meaningful offense.
Nunes remained in control in the fourth, simply proving herself to be the better striker and then scoring with a slick little outside trip to take the fight to the floor. With Nunes again offering only limited offense there, Pennington was able to get back to her feet and try to scrap, but there was no question who was getting the best of the exchanges.
With the result seeming to be a foregone conclusion in the fifth, Pennington told her corner she didn’t necessarily want to answer the bell for the final frame, but her coaches didn’t agree.