UFC 269: Julianna Pena shocks Amanda Nunes, Charles Oliveira retains lightweight title
Last updated on .From the section Mixed Martial Arts
Julianna Pena produced one of the biggest shocks in UFC history as she sensationally submitted two-division champion Amanda Nunes at UFC 269.
American Pena, 32, ended the Brazilian's 12-fight win streak to capture the women's bantamweight title.
In the co-main event, Brazilian Charles Oliveira retained his lightweight title with a third-round submission victory over Dustin Poirier in Las Vegas.
Former interim champion Poirier had been favourite heading into the fight.
Pena shocks the world and dethrones 'The Lioness'
Pena showcased her grit, and grappling skills, in the opening round as she effectively defended off her back as Nunes, 33, looked to claim a first-round submission finish.
Then, in a thrilling second round that had the Las Vegas crowd on their feet, Pena stood toe to toe with Nunes and traded punches in a lengthy striking exchange that saw the challenger gradually get the upper hand.
Pena seemingly could not miss with her left jab, and eventually broke down 'The Lioness' before taking an exhausted champion to the canvas and locking up a rear-naked choke to force Nunes to tap out and concede defeat.
"I told you. Don't ever doubt me again. Willpower, strength and determination, it will take you places," she said.
"I definitely expected a win and I'm just so grateful. The world is my oyster and you literally have the ability to do anything that you want in this life, and I just proved that tonight."
Poirier fails in second title shot
Oliveira, 32, turned to his world-class grappling skills to break the resistance of Poirier.
In a breathless opening round, Oliveira repeatedly hurt Poirier to the body with kicks and knees, but the American continued to press forward and land big punches that stunned the champion as the momentum swung back and forth.
Eventually, Poirier dropped Oliveira, but rather than engage with the jiu-jitsu specialist on the mat, he instead waved Oliveira back to his feet and the action resumed.
Oliveira dominated round two, dragging Poirier to the mat as he looked to work his way towards a submission. But Poirier, also a Brazilian jiu-jitsu black belt, held on grimly as the champion connected with heavy elbows from the top.
The champion then completed the job in the third round as he took Poirier's back in the opening seconds of the round, then locked up a standing rear-naked choke to force the tap and register a submission win in his first title defence.
Oliveira's victory was the 29th finish from 32 career victories, and his 20th career submission. It was also his 20th win inside the UFC octagon.
"I'm a world champion. I'm the man. They talk. I do it," he said after his win.
"They can hit. They can hit me a lot. But I keep walking forward."
Meanwhile, a crestfallen Poirier was left to ponder what went wrong after falling short in his second title tilt.
When asked what surprised him about the champion, the Louisiana native said: "His durability. I put some good clean shots on him. I thought that was going to get him away in the first round.
"I brawled again when I wasn't supposed to. The gameplan was to take my time and let the fight unfold, take him into the fourth and fifth and pick him apart."
Kara-France calls for title shot after huge win
New Zealand's Kai Kara-France claimed a huge TKO victory over former bantamweight world champion Cody Garbrandt, then called for a shot at the winner of the upcoming flyweight title bout between Brandon Moreno and Deiveson Figueiredo.
Kara-France, 28, calmly stalked Garbrandt around the octagon. Then, once he saw his opening, he struck with a huge right hand that dropped the American.
Kara-France moved in, looking to complete the finish, and kept his patience as Garbrandt, 30, tried to scramble clear of danger.
But the Kiwi striker wouldn't be denied and another flurry of punches eventually broke Garbrandt's resistance and forced the finish at after three minutes and 21 seconds in the first round.
"I know I'm the best in the world, and taking out a former champ just put me right in line next for a title shot," said Kara-France after securing the 14th finish of his career.
"I've been watching Brandon Moreno and Figueiredo. I want the winner of that fight. 2022, you'll be seeing the new flyweight world champion, right here."
Garbrandt, meanwhile, finds himself in a difficult position after his fifth defeat - and fourth loss by KO or TKO - in his past six bouts.
O'Malley dazzles with TKO finish
In the opening main card match-up, rising bantamweight star Sean O'Malley scored a crowd-pleasing first-round TKO of Brazilian Raulian Paiva.
O'Malley, 27, looked relaxed and confident as he found his range early, then loaded up toward the end of the first round to force his 12th finish from 15 career victories with a flurry of heavy-handed shots.
After extending his run of form to three successive wins, O'Malley revealed that his TKO finish was inspired by watching Saul 'Canelo' Alvarez boxing fights with his coach Tim Welch.
"Honestly, I think he's one of the toughest guys I have fought," he said of Paiva.
"But when I land those big shots, I'm going to take you out, and that's what happened.
"Before I came here, Tim and I were watching a bunch of Canelo highlights, and I wanted to put (Paiva) up against the cage and tee off like that."
Best of the rest
Earlier in the night, there were big wins for fan favourites Dominick Cruz and Tai Tuivasa on the preliminary card.
Former bantamweight champion Cruz bounced back from a heavy knockdown in the first round to defeat Pedro Munhoz via unanimous decision.
Tuivasa claimed the biggest knockout of the night with a second-round stoppage of Brazil's Augusto Sakai, before celebrating with a customary 'shoey' to the delight of the Las Vegas fans.
There was also a notable victory for Geoff Neal, who edged fellow top-15 contender Santiago Ponzinibbio via split decision (28-29, 30-27, 29-28) in their welterweight main card bout.
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