Although Peña (11-4 MMA, 7-2 UFC) submitting Nunes (21-5 MMA, 14-2 UFC) to claim the bantamweight title at UFC 269 was dubbed arguably the greatest upset in the promotion’s history, Cyborg (25-2 MMA, 4-0 BMMA) saw it coming.
Peña lost Round 1, but was able to avoid taking any significant damage. However in Round 2, she completely turned the tide when she poured the pressure on Nunes, backing her up with a flurry of punches. Peña proceeded to take down a fatigued Nunes and submitted her as soon as she wrapped her arms around her neck for a rear-naked choke. With Nunes having just one finish in the championship rounds over Raquel Pennington in 2018, Cyborg thinks the former dual-champ is no longer a threat after Round 1.
“You know, I was not surprised,” Cyborg said in an interview with Combat Sports on Fanatics View. “I (picked) Julianna Peña because the five losses for Amanda Nunes, four were the same style as Julianna Peña. Before my fight with Nunes, we knew Amanda Nunes’ danger is in the beginning, in the first round. If you pass the first round with her, you can get in the fight.
“We knew this. Of course, when you fight her, you go fire to fire and that happens, you know, what happened. We knew that when she goes past the first round, she sees she cannot finish you, so she’s either going to run away or quit on the floor or something, and this is what happened with Julianna Peña.”
Cyborg lost her UFC featherweight title to Nunes just 51 seconds into their fight in December 2018, getting caught on the counter after engaging in a brawl. The costly mistake handed Cyborg her first loss in more than 13 years, but she was able to rebound nicely with five straight wins, including capturing the Bellator featherweight title.
But Cyborg thinks not only did Nunes gas out against Peña, she gave up as soon as Peña got position for the fight-ending choke.
“I don’t feel like Julianna did any submission because she didn’t have a submission the way she finished the fight,” Cyborg said. “I feel like Amanda Nunes at one point, she sees she cannot finish and Julianna Peña continued going forward and she tapped. But (Peña) didn’t have any submission. I don’t know what was passing through her mind in the second round because when you’re going to fight for the title, you’re ready for seven rounds, and that was the second.
“I feel like Julianna Peña did very good jabs. In the second round, Amanda wanted to finish the fight, to KO her as fast as she can, but Julianna was keeping her on the jab. The jab really opened a lot of doors for Julianna. The reality is when they stopped the fight, I didn’t think they finished the fight because she didn’t have a submission there, and I didn’t see the tap, too.
“I don’t know what passed through her mind there, but I believe she quit at that time.”
Julianna Pena def. Amanda Nunes at UFC 269: Best photos
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Twitter reacts to Julianna Pena’s title-winning upset of Amanda Nunes at UFC 269