From staff reports
Julianna Peña was first to the punch against all-time great Amanda Nunes on Saturday, and the Spokane native secured her first UFC world championship in dramatic fashion in Las Vegas on Saturday at UFC 269.
Peña overpowered Nunes with a flurry of blows in the second round before she climbed on the bantamweight champion’s back and forced an end to the bout via rear-naked choke.
“I definitely expected a win, and I’m just so grateful,” Peña said after the win. “The world is my oyster, and you have the ability to do anything you want in this life, and I proved that tonight.”
Nunes (21-5) had her 12-fight winning streak snapped and suffered her first loss since 2014. She had made eight consecutive successful title defenses – six of them at bantamweight.
Peña, who was the No. 3 bantamweight going into the night, improved to 12-4 overall and 7-2 in the UFC.
Nunes strikes put Peña on her back twice in the opening round, but Peña stayed out of serious trouble as the two grappled for position until the end of the round.
Peña drew Nunes into a slugfest in the second round, and Peña landed the harder, cleaner punches to take control. She rocked Nunes with multiple combinations before ending the fight on the mat.
Peña entered the bout with a pair of wins and two losses over her previous four bouts, including a victory over Sara McMann via rear-naked choke on Jan. 23 that set up the title fight with Nunes.
“I told you don’t ever doubt me again,” Peña said. “Willpower, strength and determination – it will take you places.”
Peña, 32, is a 2007 graduate of Mt. Spokane High School.
Nunes’ resume is littered with victories over some of the best women in the history of the sport. The 33-year-old has beaten Valentina Shevchenko and Germaine de Randamie twice apiece – both have defeated Peña – and also possesses wins over fighters such as Ronda Rousey, Holly Holm and Cris Cyborg.
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