Amanda Nunes vs. Julianna Pena Staff Predictions: UFC 269 fight breakdown, betting odds
Amanda Nunes vs. Julianna Pena is this Saturday’s co-main event at UFC 269.
It’s a clash for the UFC Women’s Bantamweight Championship as long-reigning champion Nunes is set to defend the title against Pena at the T-Mobile Arena on December 11.
Nunes is undefeated since 2014 and has remained bantamweight champion since defeating Miesha Tate at UFC 200 in July 2016. Most recently, Nunes defeated Megan Anderson via first-round submission to defend her featherweight title.
Pena returned to action in July 2019 and has since won two of her three fights with victories against Sara McMann and Nicco Montano. The McMann win came earlier this year in January and the third-round rear-naked choke submission has helped her earn this title shot against the champion.
Read on for our Nunes vs. Pena predictions, staff picks, and betting odds for this UFC 269 co-main event.
Nunes vs. Pena betting odds
- Nunes: -855
- Poirier: +530
Nunes vs. Pena staff picks
To put it bluntly, there’s a reason that Amanda Nunes is the heavy betting favorite in this matchup. A lot of what these two women do in the octagon are different but on the side of Pena, what she does is very based on being able to dominate position. What Pena does so well is she uses a lot of striking pressure and aggressive forward movement to bully her way into the clinch. This either ends in a takedown or a reversal where she ends up finding her back to the cage, however, we have seen an ability to counter this situation by committing completely to a takedown from that defensive position. The problem is, it’s a double-edged sword, Pena is a laser focussed fighter and knows how to commit absolutely to her tactic, if it works she snowballs towards a win, but when she loses position mid attempt, she falls hard.
Amanda Nunes has great Judo and power jiu-jitsu as well as a distinct size and physicality advantage, and her ability to counter takedowns is evident from her past fights. Furthermore leading up to this point, Nunes should have a substantial advantage striking, she hits likely the hardest in her division. While Pena works linearly with good boxing, Nunes utilizes the full arsenal of a largely Thai boxing skillset. This means she will be more effective at more ranges and will have the ability to dictate how the range is played out.
The greatest part of Pena’s game is her ground and pound. If she can work her way to mount especially, she is particularly sound at working around the guard to land punches, hammerfists, and elbows, without wasting any strikes. She is good at trapping guards and using her opponent’s position as they try to defend to break through openings and relentlessly work until the fights are finished. At the same time, the submission threat is also always present and she has quite a few on her record from varying positions.
However, most of this can also be said for Nunes so whoever can establish a dominant position, where ground and pound becomes a factor will pick up a good advantage in this fight. The ability to end up here probably weighs heavier in Nunes’ favor, with her more powerful striking, experience, and grappling abilities. However, for Pena, her focus as a strength should look to potentially work Nunes into vulnerable positions late where she has faded in the past. The margin for this to happen is slim, but there is potential, although ultimately most signs point to a title defense by the champ.
Prediction: Amanda Nunes to win.
The GOAT of Women’s MMA; and, in my book, on the Mount Rushmore of the UFC, Amanda Nunes is set to grace the octagon and defend her bantamweight belt Saturday night. “The Lioness” hasn’t lost in seven years and has all but cleared out her division. Further, she has fought and beat Shevchenko, the dominant flyweight champ, not once but twice. Nunes is a different animal in the cage than her opponents. She throws with more power, has a higher level of striking acumen, pushes a higher pace, and lands with more violence than almost anyone she faces. Her overhand right is her patented knockout punch but the combinations she throws leading up it are the reason her right-hand finds the mark. In the grappling department, Nunes continues her domination. She averages 2.5 takedowns per fight and defends them at an 84% clip. Overall, Nunes has finished 17 of her 21 wins; and, recently, finished a fight by reverse triangle armbar in 2 minutes flat. Nunes’ preferred path to victory is to force her opponent to make a mistake and then finish the fight. Nunes is incredible at reading her opponent while still leading the dance in the fight. She accomplishes this by keeping the pressure high and expertly combining all facets of MMA- striking, wrestling, and submissions. Then, as soon as her opponent makes a mistake, “The Lioness” pounces and often gets the finish.
Pena is entering the octagon with a valuable and unique attribute- unbridled confidence. Pena, in every interview, has expressed that she truly believes she is better and will do something no one has been able to do in 7 years: beat the champ. Pena’s self-assessment of her game is lofty; but, ultimately, her identified strengths are accurate. Pena is a high-level Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu practitioner who, when on top, boasts a solid submission game. However, on when on the bottom, she has struggled with her submission defense. On the feet, Pena looks to strike strategically rather than with volume so that she can open up an opportunity for a takedown. She has a positive strike differential but averages less than 3 significant strikes per minute. Pena’s primary strategy is to push forward with strikes and then shoot a takedown. She averages 2.5 takedowns per fight. Once on the mat, as alluded to above, Pena looks to end the fight. Whether a choke or ground and pound, Pena prefers to hunt for a finish rather than grind out a decision win.
Put simply, Nunes is in a different tier of fighter than Pena. She is bigger, faster, stronger, more technical, more credentialed, and just more talented. I, personally, don’t believe there is another woman on the planet who can beat Nunes in either of her weight classes. I anticipate Nunes demonstrating her dominance once again Saturday night with an emphatic, and likely quick, finish.
Prediction: Nunes by finish
Pena is a well-rounded, experienced UFC fighter. Within her tenure inside the octagon, she has shown the ability to accumulate wins in a multitude of ways, ultimately showcasing comfort wherever the fight goes. In her most recent fight against Sara McMann, Pena dominated the wrestle-heavy fighter on the feet, out landing McMann by 128 strikes and landing at an impressive 73% success rate. Although she was taken down 3/3 times, Pena showed patience and comfort on the ground resulting in securing her 4th submission win as a professional. Her comfort fighting anyway needed to win will be needed when she goes up against the female GOAT of the UFC, Amanda Nunes. This comfort parlayed with having experience fighting previous title contenders along with having fought Valentina Shevchenko rationalizes Pena’s supreme confidence and her consistent desire to fight Amanda.
Amanda is the unequivocal female GOAT of the UFC. She has fought the “who’s who” of the UFC, holding wins over Tate, Rhonda, Cyborg, Holm, and Valentina not once, but twice. This impressive resume accompanied by having an impressive 81% finishing rate has left little doubt in considering her the greatest female to have ever entered the octagon. Of recent note, Amanda has displayed a greater willingness to showcase her multi-faceted skillset as a fighter, rather than relying solely on her impressive speed-power, blitz tactic on the feet. Of her last five fights, two have been taken to the decision – she landed 14/18 takedowns during said fights -, two have been finished in the first round by TKO/KO, and one, her most recent bout, by submission in round one. Although the recent track record of winning via a multitude of ways resembles that of Pena, the inherent skillsets are far different. Rather than being a solid, well-rounded fighter as Pena is, Amanda is elite in every sense of the word in all facets of MMA. Her only alleged weakness is her cardio, but her recent decision-wins have combated this concern, as she dominated each
respective fight for all 25 minutes. I not only believe Amanda is the most dangerous female fighter in the octagon but also, possesses the fewest weaknesses of any female fighter.
Amanda will win this fight however she wants it done. Pena may prove to be better on the feet or ground than expected, but whichever area she is not, Amanda will quickly identify. This identification will be met by a consistent and steady attack, as Amanda possesses the skills necessary to keep the fight wherever she wants it. Given Pena has been quite vocal about her belief in slaying the champion, I expect Amanda to treat this as Pena “poking the bear”, consequently, Amanda will release her inner Lioness and finish Pena quite quickly.
Prediction: Amanda by round 1-2 finish
Braeden Arbour is an aspiring journalist out of Ontario, Canada. He is a recent graduate of Trent University, with a black belt in Karate and a blue belt in Judo. He has also been an avid fan of MMA for the last decade.
Michael Pounders is a high school English Teacher, a boxer himself, and is a fan who loves, gambles on, and nerds out about all things MMA.