Former MMA fighter-turned-analyst Chael Sonnen has explained why an immediate trilogy fight between Amanda Nunes and Julianna Peña makes sense.
At UFC 277, Peña was looking to repeat a feat that she achieved seven months earlier at 2021’s final pay-per-view. But while she had her hand raised back then after one of the biggest upsets in the promotion’s history, there was to be no second installment of the Spokane native’s GOAT-slaying chronicles in Dallas on July 30.
Across five rounds, “The Venezuelan Vixen” was beaten and bloodied by a focused “Lioness” who’d made the necessary adjustments ahead of the pair’s rematch. While Peña offered some resistance through submission attempts, she ultimately fell on the wrong side of a massively lopsided unanimous decision verdict.
Despite the setback, Peña wasted no time in calling for a rematch, noting that her and Nunes now boast one win apiece in their series.
But while many have suggested that the now-former bantamweight queen is owed an immediate opportunity to regain the gold having offered Nunes the same luxury following UFC 269, others have pointed to the manner of the loss as reason enough for the Brazilian to move on.
Now, former two-division UFC title challenger Sonnen has offered his take, and he firmly falls on the former side of the debate.
Sonnen Differs From 85% Of Polled Fans On Peña/Nunes 3
During a recent video uploaded to his YouTube channel, Sonnen assessed the logical next step for Nunes after she regained champ-champ status in the UFC 277 headliner.
While he acknowledged the clear-cut nature of the decision, which saw 50-45, 50-44, and 50-43 scorecards submitted in favor of the “Lioness,” Sonnen noted that he’s not against Peña receiving an immediate rematch, largely due to the lack of a better option.
“Julianna Peña has come out and said that she should get a rematch against Amanda Nunes… When Julianna comes out and says, ‘Give me a rematch with Amanda,’ I’m not against it,” Sonnen said. “This (UFC 277 main event) is a massively lopsided contest, I get that. But that doesn’t disqualify something from being warranted for a rematch… I don’t have a better idea, I truly don’t.”
Many will no doubt respond to Sonnen by crying the name of UFC Women’s Flyweight Champion Valentina Shevchenko. Whilst “Bullet” has fallen to two defeats against Nunes, both came prior to her ongoing dominant run atop the 125-pound mountain, and the rematch was also a decision that split community opinion, as well as the judges.
However, for Sonnen, there’s no visible benefit to Shevchenko and Nunes completing their trilogy at the moment. In fact, the former UFC and WEC standout believes that it would be an illogical booking from the promotion as it would guarantee a defeat for one of its “invincible athletes.”
“There’s talk of Shevchenko, but that’s very light. You gotta understand, when you start doing that champ-champ business, when you start putting two awesome athletes against each other but you don’t get any return, that’s not gonna be a mega fight,” Sonnen said. “Even you people out there going, ‘No, no, Chael, please, that’s the one I want,’ I get it. I would like to see Shevchenko and I would like to see Amanda, too, but you’re not gonna get a bounce.
“If I was to put two champions against each other, iron on top of iron, I guarantee that one of my invincible stars is going to lose… I’m not gonna guarantee that whoever wins is gonna get a bounce,” Sonnen added. “All I know for sure, as the decision-maker, is I get dead-even, but one of my invincible athletes takes a loss.”
Interestingly, Sonnen’s take comes as a clear minority view when put alongside a recent poll ran by MMA News on social media in the aftermath of UFC 277.
Just shy of 200 fans gave their input when asked whether they’d prefer to see Nunes complete a trilogy with Peña or against Shevchenko, with 85.1% favoring the Kyrgyzstani over “The Venezuelan Vixen.”
Do you agree with Chael Sonnen? Does Peña/Nunes 3 make more sense than Shevchenko/Nunes 3?