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Who will fight for the vacant UFC women’s bantamweight title?

UFC Women's Bantamweight title division
Mandatory Credit: Aaron Meullion-USA TODAY Sports

Who will fight for the vacant UFC women’s bantamweight title?

At UFC 289, the UFC women’s bantamweight title became vacant after Amanda Nunes announced her retirement. Now, the UFC is left to determine who should fight for the vacant title. The division is certainly void of anyone with the talent of name value of Nunes. Still, they will need to fill the hole she left behind. Let’s take a look at the top contenders that may have a chance to fight for gold.

Julianna Pena

Julianna Pena may never get another shot at her rival Nunes, but it is likely that she gets another shot at gold. At UFC 289, Pena was scheduled to fight Nunes before a rib injury forced her out of the bout.

The UFC clearly views Pena as a title challenger. The promotion has given her several opportunities to fight for the belt. You could make an argument that Pena did not deserve the trilogy bout with Nunes after being dominated in the rematch. That did not stop the UFC from giving her the fight, however. In a unique position, Pena could help get the women’s bantamweight division back on track.

Love her or hate her, Pena adds some promotional value that other fighters in the division lack. Pena did a great job of creating a rivalry with Nunes. Even after Nunes’ retirement, she has continued to throw verbal jabs at the legend. That willingness to sell a fight would be useful in the post-Nunes era of the UFC women’s bantamweight division.

Raquel Pennington

Raquel Pennington seems to be in a great position to fight for the vacant UFC women’s bantamweight title. At UFC 289, Pennington was the backup fighter for the main event. While that does not guarantee her a title fight, it certainly shows that she will be in contention.

Pennington, 34, is a long-time veteran of the division. With 18 UFC fights under her belt, she is an established name in the promotion. More importantly, she has won six consecutive fights, which dates back to 2019.

Pennington has been knocking on the door of a title fight for a minute now, but after Nunes’ retirement, it looks like she at least has her foot in the door. It’s also worth noting that Pennington has already called out Pena with the hopes of fighting for the belt.

At this point, Pena vs. Pennington should be considered the heavy favorite for the vacant UFC women’s bantamweight title fight.

The winner of Holly Holm vs. Mayra Bueno Silva

The world of MMA is unpredictable and volatile, so let’s toss in wild card options to close this list.

I think the most reasonable of the names left on the table are Holly Holm and Mayra Bueno Silva. The two female bantamweights are set to headline a UFC Fight Night in July. The winner of that bout should be in title talks.

At UFC San Antonio, Holm picked up a good win over Yana Santos and proved her name belonged in title contention. In her last four bouts, Holm has gone 3-1. That lone loss came to Ketlen Vieira in a controversial split decision. Plus, one of those four victories came over the aforementioned Pennington.

Mayra Bueno Silva is one of the top prospects in the bantamweight division. At the moment, her resume does not scream title contender. In the UFC, she is 5-2-1. Although, she has gone 3-0 since moving up to bantamweight. That said, if she can impressively defeat Holm her stock will skyrocket.


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