This upcoming weekend, we have two title defenses at UFC 269. Charles Oliveira is defending his lightweight title for the first time against Dustin Poirier and Amanda Nunes is defending her bantamweight title for the sixth time against Julianna Pena.
This is the first time in UFC history that we see two Brazilian champions defending their belts on the same card. They both have tough matchups in front of them, so let’s waste no time diving into the action they’ll be going up against.
The first title fight of the night will be Nunes against Pena. In this fight we see the champion dropping back to bantamweight for the first time since 2019 when she beat Germaine De Randamie via unanimous decision. The champion has moved up and defended the featherweight title more times recently, due to the contenders that were in that division she hadn’t faced yet.
Pena has made a claim that the champion should be stripped due to her inactivity within the division, however, there haven’t been any challengers who Dana White has felt she needed to fight. Ironically enough, Pena‘s last loss was to De Randamie and since then Pena has only won one fight.
You can see the issue with why a promoter would be alright with a champion not defending a title, given the number one contender is 1-1 in her last two fights. Due to nobody being able to sustain a winning streak and make noise, it made sense for Nunes to stay up at featherweight and fight new challengers.
However, the sheer fact that Pena called out who many believe is the greatest women’s mixed martial artist of all time, was enough to get a shot. She did win her last fight via submission, and she stated that she will take Nunes down and have success there due to the fact that she hadn’t fought anyone like her before.
Nunes has been matched up with plenty of opponents who were able to wrestle, it’s just that they rarely were ever able to take her down. Pena’s claim will be tested and we will see if she is able to walk the walk after she talked to talk to get the title shot.
What would be next for the winner of this is hard to predict. It’s almost guaranteed that Nunes would get an immediate rematch if Pena is able to defeat her. If Nunes wins then I am not sure what she will do next given the bare state of both the bantamweight and featherweight division as I wrote in an article previously you can see below:
The headliners of the card to cap off a historic night, we have Oliveira fighting Poirier. This was a fight that was supposed to happen before, but the fact that Poirier chose to fight Conor McGregor for a third time as opposed to taking the title shot led Michael Chandler to get the shot against Oliveira back in May of this year at UFC 262. Oliveira knocked out Chandler to become the new lightweight champion after Khabib Nurmagomedov vacated the belt and retired from the sport.
This will be his first title defense, and a lot of people do not think he’s the best fighter in the division at the moment. It’s rare where you get a champion that is seemingly so disrespected, but when you think of the situation he’s in, it makes sense.
Not only do fans feel like he isn’t the rightful champion, as he didn’t defeat Nurmagomedov to win the belt, but tack on the massive fanfare that Poirier has built up since taking down McGregor the last couple of fights it makes sense. The general public has put their money where their mouth is also, as Poirier is currently the favorite in the fight.
The most recent time we’ve seen the champion as the underdog was Rose Namajunas rematching Zhang Weili at UFC 268, and this ended in a split decision victory for Namajunas. I do think that Poirier deserves some of this respect as he has been one of the most consistent lightweights of all time, let alone in recent memory.
With that being said, I still think the champion has a lot of ways to win this fight. If they can keep the fight standing Olivera should fare well with his striking ability, and if it goes to the ground we know the UFC record holder for submissions can hold his own down there as well.
Poirier is looking to win his first-ever undisputed UFC championship (won interim title at UFC 236), and claim his throne at the top of the sport. He is not one to underestimate his opponents and we will see if he can get the best of Oliveira come December 11, 2021.
What would be next for either guy who wins the lightweight championship is a fight with Justin Gaethje. It is fair to assume that Gaethje has been named the number one contender after seeing Beneil Dariush and Islam Makhachev booked for a main event fight in February.
There is a slim chance in which McGregor can come back from injury and challenge either guy given his star power and he will be granted this fight. The reason he can play spoiler in my opinion is not simply because he’s the biggest star in the UFC, it’s because that the champion would likely want to fight him because it’ll make them the most money which we know seeing how Poirier chose the money fight over the title earlier this year.
Even though we saw this fight three times already, I do not put it past anyone involved to take the opportunity and sign off on Mcgregor-Poirier IV. When everyone is chasing money fights it’s easy to see how the rankings and ladder of hierarchy in the division can get leapt by simply being the more popular fighter.
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