Fight Facts: UFC 224 ‘Nunes vs. Pennington’

By Jay Pettry May 14, 2018

Fight Facts is a breakdown of all of the interesting information and Octagon oddities on every card, with some puns, references and portmanteaus to keep things fun. These deep stat dives delve into the numbers, providing historical context and telling the stories behind those numbers.

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Taking the trip down to Rio de Janeiro for the ninth time, the Ultimate Fighting Championship brought with it an “Event of the Year” contender with fantastic action from open to close. UFC 224 on Saturday featured a record-tying number of stoppages, a champion on the warpath, a legend competing in his final bout and plenty more.

FISTIC FIREWORKS: UFC 224 featured 11 fights that ended before the final bell, tying UFC Fight Night 55 in 2014 for the most finishes at a single event in the company’s modern history.

PROUD MOMENT: The main event between Amanda Nunes and Raquel Pennington marked the first title fight in UFC history to feature two openly gay fighters. Both women have partners who also fight in the UFC, with Nunes in a relationship with strawweight Nina Ansaroff and Pennington engaged to strawweight Tecia Torres.

SLOWN BURN: Nunes’ technical knockout of Pennington at 2:36 of the fifth round was the second-latest stoppage in a women’s fight in the UFC, behind only Miesha Tate’s submission of Holly Holm at 3:30 of the fifth round at UFC 196. Nunes-Pennington was only the third women’s bout to end in a finish after the third round.

A LITTLE RESPECT: In Nunes’s four UFC title fights, the bout with Pennington was the first where she was the betting favorite; Nunes closed as a massive -700 favorite. She closed as an underdog in her previous three title fights: +265 vs. Tate, +165 vs. Ronda Rousey and +125 vs. Valentina Shevchenko.

NINE TO FIVE: With her victory over Pennington, Nunes picked up her ninth win inside the Octagon, tying countrywoman Jessica Andrade for most all-time by a female fighter. It was also the fifth knockout Nunes has earned in the UFC, the most ever by a woman.

SIXTY PERCENT OF THE TIME, IT WORKS EVERY TIME: Ronaldo Souza’s last five bouts have all resulted in post-fight bonuses, despite his holding a 3-2 record in those five appearances. “Jacare” earned a “Fight of the Night” bonus in his co-main event battle with Kelvin Gastelum, as well as three “Performance of the Night” bonuses along the way. In his knockout loss to Robert Whittaker, the latter picked up a “Performance of the Night” bonus at Souza’s expense.

EASY AS 1-2-3: Mackenzie Dern missed weight by a whopping seven pounds for her strawweight clash with Amanda Bobby Cooper, clocking in at 123 pounds. Dern became the first non-heavyweight in modern UFC history to have a weight advantage of at least seven pounds and still win.

TAKE A BOW: By knocking out Vitor Belfort with a front kick in the second round, Lyoto Machida picked up his 10th career win by KO or TKO. Half of those knockouts have come via kick.

LEGEND: Belfort made his Ultimate Fighting Championship debut in 1997, picking up not one but two victories on the same night to win the UFC 12 heavyweight tournament. If his encounter with Machida was indeed his final appearance inside the Octagon, he will have ended his career tied with Anderson Silva for the most stoppage wins in UFC history (14).

IT TAKES THE BEST: All 14 of Belfort’s losses have come to opponents who had either won a UFC tournament or been champions in the UFC, Pride Fighting Championships or Strikeforce.

ZEKE FREAK: Alexey Oleynik is the only fighter in UFC history to pull off an Ezekiel choke, and he has now done so twice after tapping Junior Albini with the rare maneuver. Oleynik has submitted 12 fighters with that particular submission in his 68-fight career, registering more wins with that choke than seven different fighters on the UFC 224 card had career wins.

WHEELS ON THE BUS: Elizeu Zaleski dos Santos knocked out Sean Strickland in the first round with a spinning wheel kick and follow-up punches, becoming only the fifth fighter in UFC history to stop someone with that particular kick.

NEVER SAY NEVER AGAIN: Entering UFC 224, Strickland (21 fights) had never been finished, Karl Roberson (six fights) had never been defeated and Brian Kelleher (27 fights) and Thales Leites (35 fights) had never been knocked out. All four suffered through career firsts.

BREATHE IN THE AIR: Since her first title defense against Rousey, Nunes has walked out to Rihanna’s “American Oxygen,” and she has yet to lose with the track. Nunes’s girlfriend, Ansaroff, used the track once in 2016 and lost.

SOMEONE SHOULD TELL HIM: Walking out to Eminem’s “Lose Yourself” for the third time in his UFC career, Sultan Aliev was stopped between rounds when his corner intervened. Aliev is 1-2 with the fateful track, and recorded fighters have a paltry mark of 5-14 when using it -- a winning percentage of 26.3 percent.

Jay Pettry is an attorney and a statistician. Writing about MMA since he started studying the “Eminem Curse” in 2012, and writing for Vice Sports and Combat Docket along the way, he put together many UFC fight result and entrance music databases to better study the sport. You can find him on twitter at @jaypettry.

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