UFC Reveals Amanda Nunes’ Next Opponent After Julianna Pena Drops Out

Amanda Nunes

Getty UFC champion Amanda Nunes.

Julianna Pena is out of her main event title fight against Amanda Nunes, which was scheduled for UFC 289.

The announcement was made by UFC president Dana White in a video posted to social media, laying out that Irene Aldana would be taking Pena’s place against Nunes.

“Julianna Pena was taking on Amanda Nunez on June 10 in Vancouver. Unfortunately, she broke her ribs, she cannot compete,” White said. “We have Irene Aldana, who’s coming in winning four of her last five, and three of those were finishes. We could have another Mexican world champion ladies and gentlemen.”

The fight between Pena and Nunes would have completed their trilogy, with each fighter winning one apiece. Pena shocked Nunes in December of 2021 with a win by submission. Nunes roared back in July of 2022, winning by unanimous decision to get her belt back.

Amanda Nunes Thought Irene Aldana Was Next

The replacement is not surprising. Nunes expressed previously that she thought Aldana would be next for her — not an immediate rematch with Pena.

“I always say I leave it to what UFC decides,” Nunes told ESPN. “I’m ready, I’ve been training, I’m healthy. So, whatever UFC wants to do, I’m ready. I love to do this, I love to fight. I’m here to defend my belt, and Julianna wants it again, I don’t have any problems with defending my belt against her.

“I did [think it would be Aldana]. I thought it was gonna be her. Everything changed to Julianna and I was okay with it, too. No matter what, whatever UFC showed me the opponent, I’m gonna be happy to defend my belt.”

The 35-year-old Aldana is 14-6 in her career, her most recent loss coming to Holly Holm in 2020. But she’s had a solid run and has a pair of first-round finishes on her resume against Yana Santos and Ketlen Vieira over her last four wins.

Julianna Pena Said UFC Forced Amanda Nunes to Fight Her

Pena was thoroughly dominated in her last bout against Nunes, with the scorecards reading 50-45, 50-43 and 50-44. But that didn’t keep her from talking a little smack, saying that “The Lioness” was trying to dodge her.

“She said I had to go fight Irene [Aldana] to fight for the belt against her,” Pena said on the “MMA Hour” in April. “But I don’t know how Irene comes up in this conversation at all. We’re 1-1. This is the biggest women’s MMA fight in history. It’s a Rocky story.

“I think the UFC knows that. I think the UFC knows that they know how to do business, they know how to do big business and make big fights. It’s the only fight that I called for. And I said, ‘You know what, if you don’t want to fight me, Amanda, which the brass told me directly, she does not want to fight me.”

Pena said that the UFC told Nunes that she had to fight her or she’d be stripped of the bantamweight belt.

“They said that if she didn’t fight against me that she would be stripped, and so she had no choice but to fight me. She doesn’t wanna fight me,” Pena said. “They told me she doesn’t want to fight me, and she’s being forced to fight me, because this is the only fight that makes sense.”

Pena will be watching the title fight carefully to see who her next opponent could potentially be.

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