Current women’s bantamweight champion Amanda Nunes against challenger Raquel Pennington is the main event on the card for UFC 224 in Rio de Janeiro on Saturday.
Home favourite Nunes is into her third defence of her belt, and his hotly fancied – but can the American Pennington pull off a surprise?
Our betting expert has taken a look at the odds.
Reigning champ rightfully favourite
Nunes hasn’t lost in four years and is the overwhelming 1/10 favourite with grosvenorsport.com to come out on top in her home country. The 29-year-old clinched the belt two years ago when she delivered a rear-naked choke to upset Miesha Tate at UFC 200 and followed that up with a memorable first-round knockout versus Ronda Rousey at UFC 207.
The champion is enjoying a six-fight winning streak, which puts her professional record since she joined the UFC at an impressive 8-1. It’s no surprise that she’s so short, especially on home soil.
However, Nunes has experienced a few cardio issues in the past – which means it’s all the more likely that she is going to look to seal the deal in the early stages of the five-round fight.
The 1/3 on offer for the fight not to last the whole distance is still too short to give any real value, but I am tempted by the 7/1 with grosvenorsport.com for Nunes to take it in the third.
To do this she will have to keep her wits about her, arguably more so than in her previous attempts to defend her title, because she certainly comes up against a worthy adversary here in Pennington, who is 6/1 to claim the victory.
Underdog Pennington to make it difficult
The underdog will know her opponent’s vulnerable spot; Nunes’ cardio troubles and having only gone past three rounds on one occasion. Pennington, on the other hand, has the ability to draw out the fight to make it painful.
The bantamweight has only ever been stopped on one occasion – all the way back in 2012 in a submission loss against Cat Zingano. Her drive and stamina are formidable and it’s 2/1 to go the distance this time around.
Nunes is still the 9/4 favourite to win by decision, even if it does go the full five. She has the odds and the crowd in her favour and I do fancy her to win it, but she may well have to dig deeper than she is used to in order to take this fight into an early end.
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