Julianna Peña pulled off one of the biggest upsets in mixed martial arts history to score a second-round submission win over Amanda Nunes and win the UFC bantamweight title at UFC 269 on Saturday.
Peña looked to be in trouble in the first round of the Las Vegas co-main event against one of the most dominant champions the sport has ever seen. The 32-year-old American came storming back in round two, though, rocking the pre-fight favourite with combinations and pouring on flurries of punches.
Nunes, whose record includes wins over Ronda Rousey, Valentina Shevchenko and Cris Cyborg, looked in trouble before the fight went to the mat, and her five-year reign as champion came to an end at the 3:23 mark. Nunes tapped out of the second round as Peña sank in a rear naked choke, handing the Brazilian her first defeat since September 2014.
“I told you, don’t ever doubt me again. Willpower, strength and determination will take you places,” Peña said in a post-fight interview. “You literally have the ability to do anything you want in this life, and I just proved that tonight.”
“Amanda has been such a great champion, and she’s done a ton for the sport,” Peña added after ending her opponent’s 12-fight winning streak. “For me to be able to take out arguably the greatest of all time is something that’s still sinking in right now.”
In the later main event, Charles Oliveira retained his lightweight title, submitting Dustin Poirier with a standing choke early in the third round of a thrilling battle.
Former interim champion Poirier, who scored a pair of wins over Conor McGregor earlier this year to earn the title shot, landed some heavy left hands and downed Oliveira as he won the first round. Oliveira got Poirier on his back early in the second, landing thunderous elbows before securing victory in the next round.
“We respect each other a lot,” Oliveira said through a translator. “But I was going to have my arm raised, and that’s what happened. I want to make history. I want to leave a legacy, and I plan to show people that I can.”