Moving over quickly form any talks of Amanda Nunes vs Cris Cyborg at UFC 226, the UFC has booked a defence of the Women’s Bantamweight Championship at UFC 224, reports Ariel Helwani of MMA Fighting.
Nunes will defend her Title against surging contender Raquel Pennington, who is on a 4 fight win streak herself.
Nunes last defended her belt in a controversial split decision victory against Valentina Shevchenko in September of 2017. Number three ranked contender Pennington was last seen in the UFC in 2016, when she defeated Miesha Tate in the latter’s final fight.
This fight has reportedly been in the talks for a month or so now, and would explain the UFC’s reluctance to make the proposed Amanda Nunes vs Cris Cyborg super fight right away, especially considering that Cyborg stepped up to save UFC 222 by defending her Featherweight Championship against Yana Kunitskaya.
It is, however, expected that Amanda Nunes and Cris Cyborg will eventually fight, especially since the Women’s Featherweight division faces an acute lack of contenders. But should both Cyborg and Nunes overcome their respective challengers, it does look like the fight still can’t be made in time for International Fight Week in July.
Amanda Nunes has been on a six fight win streak in the UFC, after her loss to Cat Zingano in 2014. The last three of those six wins have been card headlining main events, where she beat Miesha Tate, Ronda Rousey and Valentina Shevchenko.
Raquel Pennington, on the other hand, has dropped split decisions to both Jessica Andrade and Holly Holm, before rematching and defeating Andrade, followed by victories over Bethe Correia, Elizabeth Phillips and Miesha Tate heading into her first UFC Title shot.
When the two women do battle at UFC 224, it would also mark the first occasion when two openly gay fighters are fighting for a UFC Title.
The UFC 224 card in Rio is scheduled on May 12th and also features Lyoto Machida vs Vitor Belfort and Jacare Souza vs Kelvin Gastelum in a Middleweight Title eliminator.