Women’s bantamweight champion Amanda Nunes closed this weekend’s pay-per-view event in Edmonton, Alberta with a split-decision win over Valentina Shevchenko that left some fans booing the methodical five-round contest. In the end, it looked like the scorecards were up for grabs, and Pennington doesn’t think Nunes nor Shevchenko did enough to truly assert themselves as the division’s best.
“I wasn’t impressed with either one of them,” Pennington said on Monday’s episode of The MMA Hour.
“I don’t feel like either one of them really went out there and did anything. The highlights made the fight look a lot more exciting than what it really was,” she continued. “Amanda, she had center control the entire time and I guess if you really want to break it down - I haven’t broken it down yet to see all the strikes landing and stuff and I didn’t pay attention to all that, I was just kind of watching the competition because I do believe I’m the No. 1 contender now. So that’s kind of more of what I was paying attention to.”
This was the second encounter between Nunes and Shevchenko, with their first being a three-round affair at UFC 196 that Nunes won by unanimous decision. Nunes was more aggressive in that fight, though she appeared to tire in the third where she had to fend off a furious comeback from Shevchenko.
Nunes went on to claim the 135-pound crown, while Shevchenko defeated Holly Holm and Julianna Pena to earn her rematch. Pennington was surprised that her peers took such a cautious approach in what could have been a golden opportunity for them to make a statement.
“I just figured, with the close fight that they had before, that Valentina would come out given this opportunity and put on a bigger performance, and Amanda obviously wanting to keep the belt, she would go out there and try to dominate,” Pennington said. “But to see them just kind of go back and forth and stand in front of each other, and it was kind of annoying me with the fact that they were bragging about her cardio and stuff because in my opinion everyone can stand in front of each other and do that for five rounds.”
Pennington is hoping that she gets her own chance to test Nunes soon. The 29-year-old put herself in prime position for a title opportunity after outpointing former champion Miesha Tate at UFC 205 last November to pick up her fourth straight win, but she has been sidelined since then with a number of injuries.