UFC 277 was punctuated by a remarkable performance from Amanda Nunes in the main event. Fresh off a shocking upset loss to Julianna Pena back in December of last year, doubt was thick in the air that the Brazilian still had the hunger to find her place as the queen of the bantamweight division.
“Amanda is a multi-millionaire who is now at a completely different financial status,” UFC president Dana White said of Nunes’ drive in the lead up to the bout. “She has a baby now. Her life—she is not that hungry savage she was when she started to take this run at becoming a world champion. A lot of that factors in.”
If that was the fear coming into this fight, however, Nunes re-wrote the narrative on Saturday, putting a 5 round beating on Julianna Pena to regain her ‘champ champ’ status. In the wake of her victory, a fellow former two-division title holder gave his thoughts on the ‘Lioness’, and the similarities between her bouts with Pena and his own battles against Nate Diaz.
“It’s remarkable to me, the similarity of last night’s ladies bantamweight title fight rematch, to mine and Diaz—the McGregor Diaz fights,” Conor McGregor explained in a series of recorded messages posted to his Twitter account. “Fight number one: the highly touted—the GOAT of the sport—me/Amanda Nunes; shear toughness, willingness to fight, and caught off-guard. Eats a couple of shots, gives a couple of shots, then eats a couple of shots, then the tide turns—then gets choked.
“Now the return, the rematch; now confidence on the other side. Tenacity, toughness, all that still there. More focused work on the Nunes side/my side. The reason I’m even saying this, originally, is I’m a fan of both women. I’m a huge fan of both those women—Amanda Nunes and Julianna Pena—and everyone who steps inside that fucking Octagon, to be honest, and makes the walk. And at the end of the original bout, ‘I’m not surprised, motherfuckers!’ And then, again, ‘I’m not surprised, motherfuckers!’ Julianna says it. And maaaan, the fight goes the exact same way in the second fight; dropped multiple times, just better prepared. Cracks the shots, gets the drop multiple times, but then the toughness just still there, still in Amanda’s face, still in my face.
“Some fights they are. They’re iconic mixed martial arts bouts that we’re all lucky to witness. And it’s mad that, you know, double-champ, double-champ. ‘I’m not surprised,’ ‘I’m not suprised.’ I dunno, it’s a madhouse scene…”
After his praise for Nunes and comparisons to his Diaz bouts, McGregor went on to talk about Magomed Ankalaev’s kick check and Anthony Smith’s leg, and Brandon Moreno’s stellar interim flyweight title winning performance.
“That Mexican is a little animal of a thing. So’s the little New Zealander, also. Two goers, two proper goers from completely different parts of the world. Two different people, but two of the same in their own way. That was great to watch that bout. A really great bout. And the little Mexican is some boy-o. You gotta give it to him… A proper Mexican entrance and a proper Mexican fight…”
Eventually he wrapped up with a thank you to all the fighters on the card, and what sounds to be the promise of a return to the cage sometime in the not to distant future.
“I’m buzzing, I want to come back. What’s up? Good fights like that, good fight nights like that, good cards like that, good PPVs inspire millions all around the world. Thank you all so much for the entertainment, and I’ll see you real soon.”
McGregor has been rehabbing a broken leg suffered in his third bout against Dustin Poirier in July of last year. No word yet as to just when he might be expected to return to the Octagon, or against who, although the UFC seems to be expecting him back in the cage sometime later this year.