With UFC ever-growing in its fanbase, the final PPV event of 2021 was a spectacle. With an exciting undercard, and various upsets, it was a night to remember.
American-born Julianna Pena, on a one-win fighting streak only, managed to defeat the greatest women’s fighter of all time, Amanda Nunes. The Brazilian Amanda Nunes was around -900, which implied a 90% likelihood chanced of victory. Many of the top betting companies picked by espotsbetting.com had an interesting night to say the least, with reports of one UFC fan losing over $300,000 after backing Nunes.
The biggest upset in UFC history
Pena put on a great performance, in which she stood in the pocket and boxed with Nunes, a strategy that many predicted to be inconceivable at the time. Despite the punching power of Nunes, and that she clearly won the first round, Pena turned it around in the second round.
Pena stood toe-to-toe with Nunes and began getting the better of her during the exchanges. With the energy from the electric crowd, who couldn’t believe what they’re seeing, the eventual rear naked choke led Joe Rogan to claim it was the biggest upset in UFC history.
It seemed that whilst the viewers and even commentators didn’t expect Pena to win, she took it in her stride. "I definitely expected a win and I'm just so grateful. The world is my oyster and you literally have the ability to do anything that you want in this life, and I just proved that tonight."
The rematch is already being talked about, and Nunes, whilst favourite at the bookies for the next one, is only -250, a far cry from the previous -900.
Henry Cejudo Tweeted “Nunes didn’t use her power correctly. Got to emotional, taped due to exhaustion.(no legs in choke) Peña was right Will won this fight. Congrats Juliana Pena #ufc269”
Poirier fails his second title shot
Dustin Poirier, in his second title attempt, failed to secure the belt. In both cases, a grappler had gotten the better of him.
It was Charles Oliveira, 32, who got the better of Poirier at UFC 269. The Brazilian began the first round with effective knees to the body of Poirier, although it did look as though Poirier was getting the better of his opponent on the feet.
However, in the second round, Poirier spent most of the round on his back, unable to get back to his feet. Though, as commentators DC and Joe Rogan pointed out, it appeared as thought Poirier conceded the round early on, and preserved energy and lowered risk by keeping a full guard with minimal attempt to better his position.
In round three, they began back on the feet, with Oliveira getting Poirier’s back whilst standing. Being his speciality move, Oliveria performed a rear naked choke with relative ease, making the American tap and concede the title fight.
Oliveira’s win is made it the 29th finish of his 32 career wins, and his 20th submission. He has fought many fights over the years, and like Michael Bisping, came good towards back end of his career as opposed to the beginning.
"I'm a world champion. I'm the man. They talk. I do it. They can hit. They can hit me a lot. But I keep walking forward." said Oliveira during his post-fight interview.
O’Malley wins over some doubters
Sean O’Malley, whilst still yet having faced a ranked opponent, put on an impressive display against Raulian Peiva. O’Malley looked extremely relaxed and confident, being able to get the better of the Brazilian on the feet throughout the fight.
O’Malley put down his TKO finish to watching a lot of Canelo’s boxing fights. "Honestly, I think he's one of the toughest guys I have fought. But when I land those big shots, I'm going to take you out, and that's what happened.” stated O’Malley.
With Cody Garbrandt on the same card, there was a lot of back and forths between O’Malley and Cody during the pre-fight press conference. Given Cody’s loss and his poor run of form, yet still being a former champion, O’Malley may push for a fight with Cody in an attempt to secure his first win over a ranked opponent.
Cody lost his fight on the night to New Zealand’s Kai Kra-France. Kara-France won in an emphatic fashion, who was being the aggressor throughout the fight. The Kiwi was relentless in his striking, giving Cody little chance to recover from the moments were he got caught.
After getting his 14th win in his career, Kara-France stated "I know I'm the best in the world, and taking out a former champ just put me right in line next for a title shot." He then went on to put forward his name to fight the winner of Moreno and Figueiredo, stating he wants to be the flyweight champion in 2022.