After going all of 2020 without a womens bantamweight title defence, the UFC are finally setting up the division to move forward.
Amanda Nunes’ victory over Germaine de Randamie in December 2019 was the last time we saw the 135lbs belt defended, with the Brazilian earning a decision win by using her ground game to grind out a big win. Despite being dominated on the ground, the Dutch fighter showed that Nunes is human by rocking her with an upkick in the second round although she couldn’t get the job done.
Since then, the division has been held up as Nunes defended her featherweight title against Felicia Spencer at UFC 250 and the contenders fought each other to sort out a ranking of some sort. Now three of the top four contenders will all fight on the same card as they look to set up the next title fight against The Lioness.
Holly Holm will take on Irene Aldana in the main event of UFC Fight Island 4 on Saturday night, knowing that a win could earn her a rematch against Nunes who defeated her via head-kick in July 2019. Since then she has defeated Raquel Pennington via a unanimous decision in January, while Aldana is looking to make it three wins in a row to earn herself a first title shot in the UFC.
But as Germaine de Randamie is still ranked officially as the #1 contender, she believes a win for her against Julianna Pena should set up a rematch of her own against Nunes. Pena is ranked as #6 officially but has just 1 win since 2017 after taking almost 30 months off following defeat to Valentina Shevchenko. A win for Pena would likely see her move into contention for a shot, although an immediate bout for the title is unlikely.
With Amanda Nunes set to defend her featherweight title yet again in December against Megan Anderson at UFC 256, there is scope for the UFC to fit another bantamweight clash in between the winner of both fights on Fight Island to determine Nunes’ next opponent at bantamweight.
Holm and de Randamie have fought once before, with the ‘Iron Lady’ controversially getting the win despite some strikes after the horn on several occasions and many scoring the fight in favour of Holm too. A rematch between the two, should they both win as expected, would be welcomed by fans and experts but would also provide the chance for the UFC to determine a true number 1 contender on a winning run and give time for Nunes to recover from her December bout too.
Should Aldana pick up a win against Holm, to keep her active she could then fight the winner of the de Randamie vs Pena bout too to add some legitimacy to her title challenge too. The likelihood though is that she’d wait it out and look to immediately take on the GOAT of women’s MMA.
The division is finally moving though and while Nunes has cleared the division out there are some nice back-stories that can be made of any potential future match ups.