Amanda Nunes, one of the most accomplished champions in UFC history, returns to the Octagon on Saturday, June 10, to defend her bantamweight title against hard-hitting Irene Aldana in the main event of UFC 289: Nunes vs Aldana, from the Rogers Center in Vancouver, Canada.
Both athletes possess an abundance of skills in their striking and grappling, so who will have the advantage on fight night? Take a closer look at the matchup with these notable trends and statistics:
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As soon as the referee starts the fight, Nunes puts her foot on the gas. Nine of Nunes’ 10 finishes since entering the UFC in 2013 have come in the first round, which is more than any woman in UFC history. Those finishes include a 48-second knockout victory over Ronda Rousey – the fifth fastest in bantamweight history, and a 51-second knockout against former featherweight champion Cris Cyborg to become one of the four two-division champions in UFC history, alongside Conor McGregor, Daniel Cormier and Henry Cejudo.
Nunes’ knockouts of Shayna Baszler in 1 minute and 56 seconds and Sheila Gaff in 2 minutes and 8 seconds rank eighth and ninth fastest in bantamweight history, respectively.
Not only is “The Lioness” a fast starter, but her power is second to none in women’s bantamweight history. Landing 51.8 percent of her strikes, Nunes records 4.38 significant strikes landed per minute and averages .67 knockdowns per 15 minutes. While Aldana might not consistently close the show as early and often as Nunes, her striking comes in higher bunches. Landing only 39.8 percent of strikes thrown, Aldana still lands 5.61 significant strikes per minute, over one strike more on average than Nunes.
Aldana’s striking is some of the most overwhelming in the bantamweight division. Her 5.61 significant strikes landed per minute sits at fourth all time in bantamweight history. Also, Aldana’s 773 significant strikes in her 11 fight UFC career is the second most all time in 135-pound history behind only Raquel Pennington (922).
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In 2019, Aldana showcased one of her most impressive performances to date against Vanessa Melo, where she landed 125 significant strikes in 15 minutes, the ninth most in bantamweight history, on her way to a unanimous decision victory. But let’s not forget that volume isn’t Aldana’s only impressive feature in her striking; she possesses enough power to shut the lights off on any of her opponents.
Aldana’s one-punch knockout power was put on display three months after defeating Melo, when she stepped up to fight the then-No. 2 contender Ketlen Vieira. With nine seconds to go in the first round, Aldana landed a picture-perfect left hook that ended the fight the second it landed.
In her last two outings, Aldana’s finished both of her opponents. At UFC 264, Aldana dropped Yana Santos with that same left hook, and followed it up with relentless ground-and-pound until the referee stopped the fight. More recently, Aldana proved that she possesses her power in the later rounds. At UFC 279, Aldana finished Macy Chiasson in the third round with an upkick. That victory was the third upkick knockout in UFC history and the only one of its kind that targeted the body.
One of the biggest discrepancies, though, is in their striking defense. While both Nunes and Aldana defend a high percent of significant strikes thrown, 57.7 percent and 60.9 percent, respectively, Nunes absorbs far less strikes per minute. Nunes’ impressive footwork leaves her absorbing only 2.55 significant strikes per minute. Aldana, however, absorbs 5.71 significant strikes per minute, which can be costly when the distributor is none other than the powerful Brazilian.
In the grappling department, you’ll find Nunes often on the offensive, while Aldana’s on the defensive trying to keep the fight standing. If Nunes can’t finish the fight with her hands, as seen when she recaptured her title against Julianna Pena at UFC 277, she can just as effectively resort to grappling.
In that bout, Nunes secured six of her eight takedown attempts against Pena, accumulating nearly 12 minutes of ground control time with one submission attempt. Those takedowns contributed to Nunes’ 26 total takedowns in the bantamweight division, the second most in the division’s history, only behind Sara McCann (29). Nunes’ 2.68 takedowns per 15-minute average is far higher than Aldana’s 0.2, so it’s safe to assume the fight will only hit the mat if Nunes has the desire and ability to bring it there.
Main Event Preview | UFC 289: Nunes vs Aldana
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Main Event Preview | UFC 289: Nunes vs Aldana
That will be more difficult than it sounds for Nunes, though. Aldana’s defended 84.4 percent of takedowns attempted against her, stuffing 38 of 45 so far in her UFC career, which is the third highest in bantamweight history.
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If these stats tell you anything, it’s that both fighters are capable of finding the target often and with power behind their strikes. Nunes, while the more skilled grappler, may find it difficult to grapple against a difficult to takedown Aldana. This makes for a highly intriguing, explosive main event in Vancouver that you absolutely cannot miss.