It wasn’t the most exciting main event in UFC history, but Amanda Nunes was effective on Saturday night.
The UFC women’s bantamweight champion went home to fight in Brazil for the first time in three years, and left the cage a winner. Nunes picked apart a game-but-overmatched Raquel Pennington at UFC 224 in Rio de Janeiro before finishing her in the fifth round.
The time of the stoppage was 2:36 for the TKO win on Saturday night as Nunes had her third successful title defense.
“I live in the U.S., but I’m from Brazil,” Nunes said. “I represent Brazil with the flag and the belt.”
Nunes set the tone in the opening round by pushing forward and peppering Pennington with leg kicks, to the point the challenger’s left leg was purple by the time the opening round was out.
Pennington, who had not fought in a year and a half, had her best round in the second, the fight’s closest frame. Pennington landed nice counters and then a late takedown in a tossup of a round. But Nunes got back in gear in the third and restored order, as she continued to stalk her opponent and slowly wear her opponent down. By the end of the fourth, Pennington, her nose broken, told her corner she was finished.
The corner sent Pennington out anyway, though, and the fifth round was an ugly spectacle, as Pennington bled horrifically as Nunes rained down punches until the fight was waved off.
The fight was the first UFC title fight featuring openly LGBT fighters, and Nunes, who is engaged to fighter Nina Ansaroff, acknowledged the difficulty of fighting friend Pennington, whose partner Tecia Torres was a longtime teammate of Nunes.
“I never fight a friend before,” Nunes said. “It was very hard for me to fight a friend, I like these girls for so long.”
Nunes (16-4) has now won seven straight fights. Pennington (9-6) had a four-fight win streak snapped.