Two blue-collar males with mutual respect.
The best feminine blended martial artist of all time trying so as to add a win towards a chattering rival.
A promoter pleased with these variations.
These attracts on Saturday, when the Final Combating Championship will maintain its final pay-per-view card of the yr, don’t generate the moment mainstream recognition of Conor McGregor, Israel Adesanya or Jon Jones. However the matchups supply a various exhibiting of fighters whom the corporate has leaned on for a number of years, a circumstance that was evident on Thursday because the fighters stared one another down after a information convention.
The U.F.C.’s president, Dana White, stated he appreciated the fighters’ completely different approaches. The light-weight champion, Charles Oliveira (31-8-0), and the No. 1 contender, Dustin Poirier (28-6 -0), who will headline U.F.C. 269, seemed one another within the eyes intently, however briefly talked.
Amanda Nunes (21-4-0), who will defend her bantamweight belt, wore a Gucci bucket hat whereas she bickered along with her challenger, Juliana Peña (11-4-0). White stated every card had a singular dynamic whatever the widespread highlight.
“Followers respect all these fights,” White stated in a phone interview.
These fights conclude a yr that closely featured Poirier, who will likely be competing for the light-weight title for the second time in his profession. In July, he fought McGregor, the brash Irish star, within the U.F.C.’s most closely marketed occasion of 2021. He defeated McGregor by technical knockout within the first spherical of what was their third combat since 2014. McGregor landed awkwardly after a blow and fractured his left tibia, a shock conclusion to per week of hostility as McGregor repeatedly insulted Poirier and Poirier’s spouse, Jolie.
Past cash and elevated stardom, the combat was dangerous. Poirier, who entered the U.F.C. in 2011, had gained six of his final seven fights — the loss coming towards the previous champion Khabib Nurmagomedov in 2019 — and will have argued as an alternative for a title shot with Oliveira. He jeopardized an basically assured championship combat and risked having to climb up the ranks once more if he misplaced. However he guess on himself and is now in place to doubtlessly finish the yr with gold and leather-based.
“These classes I’ve realized, I’m very grateful for,” Poirier advised reporters. “Being the world champion is ceaselessly — 25 minutes till eternity. That’s what’s going by my head each evening once I fall asleep.”
Oliveira turned the champion in Might when he defeated Michael Chandler by technical knockout within the second spherical. Nurmagomedov (29-0-0) retired in 2020 with an unblemished file and when he competed, he basically held the division hostage. This will likely be Oliveira’s first title protection, and an fascinating matchup for him as a jiu-jitsu specialist towards a well-rounded fighter like Poirier. The parity on the high of the light-weight division for the primary time since 2018 excites White.
“You by no means know who’s going to win, and there’s going to be some thrilling fights,” White stated. “Khabib was unbelievable and dominating all people, and now you don’t know who may probably be the champion.”
Nunes, much like Nurmagomedov, has cemented herself as among the finest athletes within the sport. She entered the U.F.C. in 2013 and has misplaced simply as soon as within the firm. Ladies’s blended martial arts grew by fighters equivalent to Ronda Rousey, Holly Holm, Miesha Tate and Cris Justino, generally known as Cyborg.
Nunes defeated Tate to turn into bantamweight champion in 2016 and simply dispatched the remainder afterward, exhibiting versatility in all of her fights with sturdy punches, head kicks and submissions. Her knockout of Justino in 2018 for the featherweight belt made her the primary lady in U.F.C. historical past to be a simultaneous champion in two weight lessons.
Nunes, who’s a lesbian, and her associate turned mother and father final yr, and Nunes has been open about motherhood and her sexuality. In a bloody, male-dominated sport like blended martial arts, White stated her identities are essential for illustration.
“She touches so many several types of individuals and that’s superior for reaching them and changing them to followers,” White stated. “However above all that and every part she is, she’s an superior human being and I really like working along with her.”
Nunes contracted the coronavirus in July, canceling an earlier scheduled combat with Peña in August. The delay pissed off Peña, and he or she has talked about it incessantly throughout media excursions. Peña has for years stated she felt Nunes was avoiding her. Now, the matchup is about.
“It doesn’t matter what she does Saturday, I’ll end her,” Nunes stated. “This belt isn’t going wherever.”