May 11, 2018

UFC 224: What's Next For Amanda Nunes If She Beats Raquel Pennington?

By Adam Martin

The main event of this Saturday night's UFC 224 card, which goes down at Jeunesse Arena in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, is a mismatch between UFC Women's Bantamweight Champion Amanda Nunes and challenger Raquel Pennington. The current odds for the bout are pegging Nunes as a -1100 favorite and Pennington as a +700 underdog. We've seen some crazy upsets in MMA history happen before, but everything here is pointing towards yet another dominant victory by Nunes, and the odds reflect it.

If Nunes beats Pennington in impressive fashion like the odds suggest, you have to wonder what is next for her. The Brazilian has already defeated almost every top contender at 135 lbs. She beat Valentina Shevchenko by decision twice to send her packing down to 125 lbs. She brutally knocked out Ronda Rousey and sent her into retirement. She finished Miesha Tate and changed the course of her career. She also finished Sara McMann and Germaine de Randamie. The only woman in the UFC to have any success against Nunes was Cat Zingano, who beat her via TKO in 2014, but Zingano is on a three-fight losing streak at the moment and that win over Nunes seems ages ago. Other than that no one has been able to touch Nunes. And clearly, based on the odds, no one believes Pennington is going to be the fighter who ends Nunes' six-fight winning streak.

You can't look too far ahead in this sport, but I'd say there's a very good chance Nunes wins this fight, and so we have to consider what would be next for the champ if she wins. Like I've said, she's essentially cleared out the UFC women's bantamweight division at this point. The only fighters in the Top 5 that Nunes hasn't beaten yet are Julianna Pena, who is taking time off due to having a child, and Ketlen Vieira, who is pretty much the only prospect in the division with the potential to truly be a title contender. But other than that, there's slim picking for Nunes.

That's why, after this fight with Pennington, I fully expect the UFC to once again attempt to book Nunes against Cris "Cyborg" Justino in a superfight for the UFC women's featherweight title which Cyborg currently holds. The UFC wanted to book this fight originally but were not able to get it done in time. Nunes will obviously want a bigger contract to step up in weight to fight Cyborg, and Cyborg will likely use her leverage to secure a new contract as well. We all know the UFC loves to pinch pennies, but in this case it may do what it has to do financially in order to make this fight. Because at this point, Nunes and Cyborg have each essentially cleared out their respective divisions, and the only logical fight for both women next would be against each other.

That being said, Nunes still has to get by Pennington this weekend at UFC 224. On paper this is a matchup she should win, as she is the better striker and grappler and has more finishing ability, but then again it's MMA and crazy things happen sometimes. But should Nunes do what the odds indicate and beat Pennington in convincing fashion, the UFC will have to think of what to do with her next, and the fight with Cyborg makes sense. It's all riding on Nunes beating Pennington this weekend, and if she does, MMA fans have every reason to believe a big superfight will be coming soon.

UFC 224
Amanda Nunes vs. Raquel Pennington (UFC Women’s Bantamweight Championship)

UFC 224: Nunes vs. Pennington takes place May 12, 2018 at Jeunesse Arena in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.

Click HERE for more UFC 224 Pre-Fight Analysis

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