It was the first time in UFC history that two openly gay fighters competed for a championship. Opponents sound off and face off: strawweights Mackenzie Dern and Amanda Cooper; former champions Lyoto Machida and Vitor Belfort; middleweights Jacare Souza and Kelvin Gastelum; and women's bantamweight champion Amanda Nunes and challenger Raquel Pennington. Round three witnessed much of the same, until Nunes crumbled Pennington with a knee to close of the round.
The other criticism that often comes up is there are just too many cards to get pumped up about anything other than the more loaded fight cards possible, but Saturday's event comes following a two-week hiatus and is just the sixth event in the last 11 weeks, so it's not like fans have been inundated with a non-stop flow of UFC fight cards heading into this one. She has won six straight contests, and she looks to defend her bantamweight title successfully for the third consecutive time. Expect Machida to weather the storm and use his awkward style to win the fight via decision. Pennington, meanwhile, is on a four-fight winning streak, but has not seen the inside of the Octagon since November 2016 due to injury.
That aside, following Nunes' split decision win over Valentina Shevchenko, which came after the champ withdrew from their UFC 213 bout, the day off, the "Lioness" is looking to turn heads tonight. But whereas Nunes is explosive and deadly with her fists, Pennington is all about being durable... and that's a risky way to be against someone so adept at clobbering people.
As for the significance of the bout featuring two LGBTQ+ athletes, Pennington simply said she was proud. The UFC tweeted Gastelum celebrating after the knockout. The prelim card is on FX starting at 6 p.m.
So why are there no out gay male fighters in the UFC?
This is a single sport, you can't think in group. "It would be incredible if a couple of male fighters came out in the UFC, and it would show how progressive and pioneering the sport is in that regard". "If it's a rival or a friend, you have to step in and fight and get the job done", said Nunes. Her corner talked her into going back out, but it was all for naught.
How might that fight change things on the women's side of UFC? I'm sure there are. I feel like whatever happens this fight, I will walk away with my belt. They would not only be celebrated, but championed as well. Very scary moment for Brian Butler-Au - who manages big fighters like Max Holloway - and is in Rio to support his fighter, Brian BOOM Kelleher, who's fighting on the main card at UFC 224.
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