Amanda Nunes vs. Julianna Pena UFC 269 Odds, Pick & Prediction: Can Champion Retain Belt? (Saturday, December 11)
Chris Unger/Zuffa LLC. Pictured: Amanda Nunes.
- Amanda Nunes is an overwhelming favorite against Julianna Pena at UFC 269.
- While Nunes hasn't lost since late 2014, Pena has dropped two of her last four fights.
- Sean Zerillo breaks down the matchup and how bettors can find value in the fight below.
Amanda Nunes vs. Julianna Peña Odds
|Approx. 11:30 p.m. ET|
The GOAT of women’s MMA defends her 135-pound title at UFC 269, when Amanda Nunes faces Julianna Peña.
Nunes is seemingly unstoppable, while Peña has lost two of her last four fights. On paper, this doesn’t look like it will be very close.
But is there a reason to believe the challenger can give Nunes trouble? Let’s break it down. For more analysis on the rest of the card, you can check out my projections for the entire slate here.
Tale of the Tape
|Avg. Fight Time||9:11||11:19|
|Weight (pounds)||134.5 lbs.||135 lbs.|
|Date of birth||5/30/88||8/19/89|
|Sig Strikes Per Min||4.50||2.8|
|SS Absorbed Per Min||2.45||1.7|
|Take Down Avg||2.50||2.49|
Saturday will mark the second consecutive fight that Nunes closes over -1000 (90.9%) consensus in the betting market. Before the Megan Anderson fight in March, her previous career-best was -700 (87.5% implied) against Raquel Pennington 2018 — and she closed as an underdog against Cris Cyborg (+170) and Valentina Shevchenko (+121) in her two bouts on either side of that matchup.
Despite the aura of greatness surrounding Nunes — a few brave bettors are willing to stand against her in each fight. “The Lioness” is a prominent physical presence at 135, but she can slow down if her opponents survive the championship rounds, during which point she grapples and turns into a wet blanket on top for the duration.
Talentwise, Peña is seemingly on the lower end of Nunes’ run of title challengers. She’s not defensively responsible, either on the feet or on the mat, and her cardio doesn’t stand out either.
Still, if Peña can survive the first 10 minutes against Nunes, she will stay in the champion’s face and make this bout surprisingly competitive.
Peña needs to push a pace and force Nunes to work early and often, even if Peña is getting her back turned to the cage where she’s forced to defend. So long as Peña can stay out of trouble from big power shots and make Nunes work, she has a path to victory late in the fight since Nunes tires the more that she’s forced to grapple.
I doubt that Peña (2.5 takedowns per 15 minutes, 53% accuracy) can get Nunes (84% takedown defense) to the mat early, but tying her up in the clinch and attempting to wear on her could lead to some success later in the fight.
Nunes (2.50 takedowns per 15 minutes, 53% accuracy) should be able to dictate where the fight takes place (23% takedown defense for Peña), and she carries significantly more power and efficiency (+2.05 to +1.1 strike differential; +8% combined accuracy and defense) in the striking exchanges.
Nunes vs. Pena Pick
I don’t show value on either side of the moneyline or the total for this fight. The Under 1.5 (+115) is likely a better play than Nunes to win in Round 1 (+150), but I don’t show any value on Nunes’ winning method props either, and her odds to win by finish (projected -263, listed -330) are outrageous.
Peña to win in Round 4 (+5500) or Round 5 (+6500) are worthy dart throws in case Nunes gasses out completely, but I would prefer to bet Peña live after Round 2 at a massive number right when she’s coming into her best win condition.
- Julianna Peña Live after Round 2