Nunes's victory was her third successive title defence, and her seventh-straight victory, as she underlined her status as one of the most dominant forces in women's MMA.
Nunes pinned Pennington back against the cage with a series of heavy kicks in the opening round, with that pattern continuing, as the American struggled to get the champion down on the mat.
And the 29-year-old established her dominance early on by dropping Pennington with two powerful leg kicks, much to the delight of her fellow countrymen and women in the crowd. She paid for the failed takedown attempts, too, as Nunes made a habit of digging knees into the body and head after Pennington bailed on single leg shots. However, her pleas were ignored, and coaches put her back to the octagon into the fifth round.
Pennington finally rolled over with Nunes just pouring on the punishment as the canvas was painted red with blood until the referee saw enough to step into stop the carnage. Pennington showed a ton of heart surviving as long as she did, but Nunes poured it on in the final frame to get the win. The win also serves as Nunes' third consecutive title defense since winning the belt in 2016.
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"We tried to make that fight happen because it's a big fight and the fans wanted it, but it couldn't happen at the time so I moved on", she said, per Kevin Iole of Yahoo Sports. And I would have done the same thing because sometimes when you're exhausted and you don't think you have enough left, your coach's job is to pull the most out of you. 'If you want to retire you have to fight me first'. "It was the most hard fight in my career to fight this girl". Tate continues, "I think she's going to say, "I'm glad I went out in the fifth round". Should Raquel Pennington's corner have thrown in the towel?
Despite it being a successful night for Nunes, whose win is arguably going to fuel further talk of a massive Brazilian super fight against Cris Cyborg, it's Pennington's cornermen that have stolen the headlines for all of the wrong reasons. Whether or not there will be fallout from that situation remains to be seen.