Amanda Nunes makes a meal of Julianna Peña at UFC 277

Amanda Nunes makes a meal of Julianna Peña at UFC 277

The Lioness still hungers for gold, and she feasted heartily on Saturday night.

Seven months after falling prey to Julianna Peña, Amanda Nunes once again rules as the apex predator in both of the UFC’s heaviest women’s divisions.

The reigning featherweight champion wasn’t content to settle for just one belt. No. Nunes wanted that bantamweight crown back; she needed it.

“When The Lioness don’t get the prey for the first time, I set the trap better, and I knew I’d get the prey this time,” a beaming Nunes replied in the octagon, moments after regaining the 135-pound crown in UFC 277 main event in Dallas. “Now, we are here, making history again. Double champ again, baby!”

Even as a considerable betting favorite over Peña, whose December victory via second-round submission ranks among the greatest upsets in UFC history, doubts sprang up. Was this the beginning of the end for MMA’s female GOAT? Was the move away from vaunted American Top Team an act of desperation? Were COVID-19 and a knee injury mere excuses from a facing legend?

Here’s a new question: After the way the Brazilian mauled Peña at American Airlines Center, how silly do those questions sound on Sunday?

To hear Nunes tell it in the cage, changing up her training home paved the way for such brilliance on what she called “the best day ever in my life.”

Amanda Nunes
Amanda Nunes
Getty Images

“The best thing that I did was make my gym happen,” Nunes declared. “In my gym, I feel like I’m safe. I feel like I can grow even more.”

Perhaps that growth, that evolution, was the genesis of a new approach. The wheels came off Nunes’ finely-tuned engine last time — following a strong opening frame — when she allowed herself to engage in a firefight with Peña, who has previously been known more for her dangerous grappling and submissions. The dual-champ faded, and one of her belts drifted away to the 32-year-old from Spokane, Wash.

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