Amanda Nunes (23-5) earned a unanimous decision victory over Irene Aldana (14-7) to retain her bantamweight championship in the main event of UFC 289 from Rogers Arena in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada. After the victory, she cut her gloves off and retired from MMA as one of the all-time greats.
Nunes gave Aldana plenty of respect early in the fight, keeping her distance, but finding her range. Nunes earned a takedown but immediately hopped back to her feet, unwilling to engage on the ground. Aldana was hesitant to exchange, keeping her hands tight and overreacting to every feint. With about a minute remaining in the first round, Aldana caught Nunes with a nice counter right that sent the champ stumbling.
In the second, Nunes looked downstairs, with big leg kicks that started to show damage on the challenger’s lead leg. Aldana got dropped midway through the round with an easy takedown, but Nunes refused to do anything on the ground. Aldana began to let her hands go late, and Nunes responded with a combo and a nasty clinch and knee to the head. Nunes continued to pour it on late, earning a third takedown with 15 seconds remaining in the second.
The third saw Nunes bully Aldana to the ground three times, maintaining top control for most of the round. With less than a minute remaining in the round, Aldana looked exhausted and started letting her hands go. Nunes caught Aldana with another big combination followed by a clinch and knee.
Aldana opened the championship rounds with much more activity, but almost immediately ate a gigantic elbow from Nunes. The champ continued to pick apart Aldana with shot after shot, mixing up takedown attempts with elbows, front kicks, and overhand shots.
The fifth was much of the same for Nunes, who earned a takedown and maintained top position basically the entire round.
Nunes defended the bantamweight crown for the first time since winning the belt back at UFC 277 against Julianna Peña. Nunes came into Saturday night’s main event having lost just twice since 2014. She puts a bow on her career, defeating every notable women’s fighter in the UFC’s history, with wins over Ronda Rousey, Holly Holm, Cris Cyborg, Valentina Shevchenko, and Miesha Tate.
Aldana stepped up to fight Nunes when the former champion, Peña, withdrew in May due to a rib injury. Aldana won her last two bouts via knockout heading into her title tilt, last falling in 2020 in a decision loss to Holly Holm.